The 2018 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes ballot was completed by 61 short track insiders, including media members, team and driver development professionals, track and series promoters and officials, product and industry representatives, NASCAR National Series drivers, crew members, short track racing veterans and more.  The voters could select as few as 10 and as many as 51 drivers on their ballot, ranked in order that they would choose the drivers to compete for their driver development team in the top levels of the sport.  

 

Speed51.com used a scientific equation that factored in total number of votes, quality votes, first-place votes, top-five votes and top-1o votes in order to determine the top-51 picks in the 2018 Short Track Draft.  

 

The number-one overall pick was revealed on Thursday, April 26. The second pick was revealed on Friday, April 27.  Later that day, the remainder of the first-round picks (3-10) were revealed on Speed51.com. 

 

The third round (26-51) will be announced on Tuesday, May 1 at 5 p.m.

 

For the first time in the history of the Short Track Draft, Speed51.com will be revealing the top 100 picks in the draft.  The fourth round (52-75) will be revealed Wednesday, May 2 at 5 p.m with the fifth and final round (76-100) being announced Thursday, May 3 at 5 p.m. 

Here are the 2018 Short Track Draft picks #11-25. 


Pick #11
Brandon Sheppard
Age: 25
Hometown: New Berlin, IL
Series: Dirt Late Models
Twitter: @B_Sheppard_B5
Last Year's Pick: 15th

Brandon Sheppard is either locking himself into the laurels of the Dirt Late Model history books or setting himself up for someone to come knocking on his door.  Other than Bobby Pierce, there is nobody else as attractive to the upper echelons of racing coming from the Dirt Late Model realm.

 

Sheppard won a record 18-times, including one at the World Finals, on the World of Outlaws Late Model circuit en route to his first national championship in 2017.  He also won twice during Florida Speedweeks on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, including a last-lap heroic move past Scott Bloomquist for the victory.  He had at least seven other victories throughout the season that we can count, including five on The Hell Tour, the DIRTcar UMP Late Model Summer Nationals.

 

And his train keeps on rollin’ this year too.  He already has at least six victories, three with the Lucas Oil tour, two with WoO and one out West in Arizona.

 

Pros: If you are looking for a flat-out, no holds-barred racer, B-Shep is it.  The dude simply wins.

 

Cons: He’s not your clean-cut, prim and proper racer that seems to be attractive to the NASCAR-realm.

 

Pick #12
Derek Griffith
Age: 21
Hometown: Hudson, NH
Series: PASS Super Late Models
Twitter: @DerekGriffith12
Last Year's Pick: 30th

Derek Griffith has a lot going right for him already in 2018.  He's one of seven Kulwicki Driver Development Program drivers, one of 10 drivers named to Team PFC Brakes, and he's already won two Super Late Model races.

 

Griffith kicked off the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) season with a win at Dillon Motor Speedway (SC) and followed that up by also winning the PASS North opener at Thompson (CT) in April.

 

While it's been a while since the state of New Hampshire has seen one of their own compete in NASCAR's highest levels, Griffith may be the The Granite State's best shot since Joey Polewarczyk, Jr.  Coincidentally, both drivers are from the town of Hudson.

 

Pros: He is one of the most friendly drivers you will find in a pit area at any short track around the country.  His personality won him a 2017 51 Award for Best Personality.  He's also strong on social media, which is an important aspect in today's racing game.

 

Cons: He's yet to score a signature win like the Oxford 250, Mason-Dixon MegaMeltdown or Easter Bunny 150.  A win in a big race like that, as well as more success in the Southeast, could go a long ways towards getting his name out there even more.

 

Pick #13
Sheldon Haudenschild
Age: 24
Hometown: Wooster, OH
Series: Sprint Cars
Twitter: @Haudenschild_17
Last Year's Pick: Undrafted

Going from unranked to ranking in the top-15 of the Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes is impressive to say the least. Haudenschild jumped on the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series tour in 2017 and was awarded Rookie of the Year honors.

 

In 2018, Haudenschild was announced as the driver for the Stenhouse Jr.-Marshall Racing team and hit a hot streak, collecting a win with the Arctic Cat All Stars Circuit of Champions and four World of Outlaws wins, including his first career win at Volusia. It is likely that he will add a few more wins to his collection and will have a strong championship run this year.

 

It's also worth noting that Haudenschild is the highest-ranked Sprint Car racer in the 2018 Short Track Draft.

 

Pros: Much like his competitor, David Gravel, Haudenschild has great social media and at-track interaction with fans.

 

Cons: Haudenschild’s experience consists of mainly 410 Sprint Cars and a couple of attempts at a Chili Bowl Nationals run.  At the age of 24, he'll likely need to gain some asphalt experience at some point if he is to make a run at the higher levels of NASCAR.

 

Pick #14
Raphael Lessard
Age: 16
Hometown: St Joseph de Beauce, QC, Canada
Series: Super Late Models
Twitter: @Raphael_Lessard
Last Year's Pick: 7th

Upon moving from his native Quebec down to North Carolina, Raphael Lessard made an immediate impact on the Super Late Model scene in the Southeast, winning four times in CARS Super Late Model Tour competition on his way to the series championship in 2016. Strong showings at big races such as the All-American 400 and Winchester 400 also boosted his draft stock in 2017.

 

But 2017 became a powerful learning season for Lessard, winning just once and having difficulty at some events. But through it all Lessard showed tremendous grit, continuing to learn with each race, including a pair of ARCA starts for Venturini Motorsports.  His potential was recognized by Kyle Busch Motorsports and he landed a full-time ride with the team for the 2018 Super Late Model season.

 

Lessard may have dropped back in the 2018 Draft, but his potential still remains for the future.

 

Pros: He can drive a race car to the absolute limit. His desire to learn is second to none, whether it is to improve his skills behind the race car or the English language. He also presents a positive attitude to all he comes across.

 

Cons: Champion drivers are expected to continue winning, which Lessard didn't do as often as many expected him to do in 2017. While he can get everything out of race car, he has the tendency to use everything on the car up too early at times.

 

Pick #15
David Gravel 
Age: 25
Hometown: Watertown, CT
Series: Sprint Cars
Twitter: @DavidGravel
Last Year's Pick: 28th

In the last year, David Gravel has made a name for himself as one of the top Sprint Car drivers in World of Outlaws competition. Gravel gave Donny Schatz a run for his money on several occasions and contended for the most wins during the 2017 season.

 

Still under the CJB Motorsports banner, Gravel picked up 18 wins on the World of Outlaws tour and finished third in the points standings. At the rate his career is going, it is sure that we will be on the lookout for the Gravel name to have the word, “champion,” beside it in the near future.

 

Pros: Great social media and at-track interaction with fans.  He's also one of the best in competition in today’s Sprint Car world.

 

Cons: Gravel’s experience consists of mainly 410 Sprint Cars, not much more.

 

Pick #16
Travis Braden
Age: 24
Hometown: Wheeling, WV
Series: ARCA
Twitter: @TrBraden
Last Year's Pick: 8th

Travis Braden didn’t race much too much in 2017, but when he did he made it count. The West Virginia native scored four Late Model victories last year, three of which came behind the wheel of a Super Late Model with the ARCA/CRA Super Series. His one Pro Late Model win came with the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour.

 

Braden also made a little bit of noise in some limited ARCA Racing Series starts. He finished fourth at Winchester Speedway (IN) and led 12 laps at Chicagoland Speedway as well.

 

Braden is now racing full-time in the ARCA Racing Series, but his season hasn’t started off the way he’d have hoped.

 

Pro: Braden knows how to win races. He’s proven that throughout the years.

 

Con: Braden is 24 and still has yet to get a shot at the big time from anybody. Prospective car owners must be wondering why.

 

Pick #17
Nick Hoffman
Age: 24
Hometown: Mooresville, NC
Series: UMP Modifieds / Dirt Late Models / Outlaw Karts
Twitter: @Nick_Hoffman2
Last Year's Pick: 10th

Nick Hoffman can win in any type of race car at any dirt track and the soon-to-be 25-year-old has proven that. Hoffman won the big money QRC Speed51 Open in an Outlaw Kart at his home track of Millbridge Speedway in 2017. He’s also now won the Big Gator at Volusia Speedway Park three years in a row in UMP Modified competition.

 

Hoffman is also a pretty good shoe in a Dirt Late Model as well, even though he’s still new to that game. Hoffman just scored a win with the American Late Model Series at Eldora Speedway this past weekend, but that win came a little too late for Hoffman’s draft stock.

 

Unfortunately for Hoffman, this is Hoffman’s last year of Short Track Draft eligibility, which also means making the big three of NASCAR could be difficult for Hoffman who has made starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in the past.

 

Pro: A versatile driver that can win on dirt anywhere in any car.

 

Con: Hoffman is about to turn 25, meaning he will no longer be eligible for the Short Track Draft.

 

Pick #18
Spencer Bayston
Age: 19
Hometown: Lebanon, IN
Series: USAC Midgets / Sprint Cars
Twitter: @spencerbayston
Last Year's Pick: 42nd

It's hard to ignore a champion, and that's exactly why Spencer Bayston climbed 24 spots from 42nd to 18th in this year's Short Track Draft.

 

Bayston visited victory lane three times on his way to winning the USAC National Midget Series championship in 2017.  Overall, he tallied 11 wins and a whopping 41 top-five finishes in 65 races.

 

In addition to his success on dirt, Bayston also made his asphalt debut with Bond Suss Racing in a CARS Tour race at Concord Speedway (NC).

 

Pros: He's still young and he has the backing of Toyota.  As a development driver for Toyota, Bayston will be provided tools that will help him potentially get to the next level.

 

Cons: While we don't want to say he doesn't have a personality, we do believe he could come out of his shell a little more and develop a strong personality as a winning race car driver.

 

Pick #19
Stephen Nasse
Age: 22
Hometown: Pinellas Park, FL
Series: Super Late Models
Twitter: @StephenNasse
Last Year's Pick: 16th

Despite adding a Southern Super Series championship to his resume during the 2017 season, Stephen Nasse falls three spots in the 2018 Short Track Draft.

 

While Nasse earned the title of "champion," he struggled to find victory lane as often as he would have liked last season.  He broke through for a CARS Tour win later in the season, and that win seemed to provide him some confidence heading into 2018.

 

He opened the 2018 season with a win during his first race with the Jett Motorsports team at New Smyrna Speedway (FL).

 

Pros: He's a fierce competitor that has a true passion for the sport and a true desire to get to victory lane.  He's normally a contender to win no matter where he goes.  He's also proven that he can contend for both wins and championships throughout his career.

 

Cons: Unfortunately, the passion and desire he has can sometimes turn into a negative, as we saw last Friday night at Five Flags Speedway.  It's one thing to have a passion to win, but it's another to throw punches at another driver while they're still strapped into their race car.  Nasse admitted himself that he needs to get better with controlling his actions during these situations.

 

Pick #20
Tanner Thorson
Age: 21
Hometown: Minden, NV
Series: Super DIRTcar Series
Twitter: @Tanner_Thorson
Last Year's Pick: 27th

Tanner Thorson is a highly popular and well-known name in the open wheel realm of racing. Thorson is continuing to make the transition from dirt to asphalt as he made his debut in the NASCAR K&N Pro East Series at Bristol Motor Speedway with Young Motorsports in April. Thorson will also make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut under the Young Motorsports banner with the Team Dillon partnership in 2018.

 

After a strong fourth-place finish at this year’s Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, Thorson still continues to impress on dirt. However, he still has not been able to seal the deal and remains winless thus far in the season.

 

Although he hasn’t found victory lane, Thorson’s exposure on asphalt has bumped his stock up to 20th in this year’s draft.

 

Pros: Thorson is a well-rounded driver who can wheel just about anything he is thrown into, especially on dirt. A little bit more experience and success on asphalt could carry him a long way.

 

Cons: Not much has changed from last year to this year in terms of Thorson’s personality. His at-track demeanor still comes across as cocky.

 

Pick #21
Matt Craig 
Age: 19
Hometown: Kannapolis, NC
Series: Super Late Models
Twitter: @matthewcraig54
Last Year's Pick: 19th

There's no doubt about it, Matt Craig can wheel a race car as well as nearly anyone in the Short Track Draft.  The two-time PASS South champion has won just as much as nearly any other asphalt Super Late Model racer in the country since the start of the 2017 season.

 

In 2017, Craig scored six PASS South wins en route to his second straight championship.  Additionally, he picked up one win with the CARS Super Late Model Tour.

 

Pros: He knows how to drive a race car fast.  That may sound over-simplified, but it's true.  Craig simply knowns how to win races.

 

Cons: Unfortunately for Craig, a handful of his victories have come with some kind of controversy after on-track incidents with his competitors.  A select few Super Late Model veterans have even gone on the record stating that they don't appreciate Craig's aggressive driving style.  While you want a driver that can win races, you also want a driver who is respected by his peers.

 

Pick #22
Chase Purdy
Age: 17
Hometown: Meridian, MS
Series: Super Late Models / Stock Cars
Twitter: @ChasePurdy12
Last Year's Pick: 43rd

A strong career for Chase Purdy at Greenville Pickens Speedway (SC) in Late Model Stock Cars helped propel the Mississippi driver up to the ranks of both Super Late Models and Stock Cars.

 

In 2017, Purdy put together a strong season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, finishing fourth in points with five top-five finishes and earning Rookie of the Year honors. He also managed to come home with a number of top fives in Super Late Model racing and a pair top 10s in his ARCA Racing Series starts.

 

While Purdy is getting the recognition he has earned, eventually he must win again.  After all, it’s what got him noticed in the Short Track Draft in the first place.

 

Pros: Purdy is a proven winner who has also shown that he can be consistent.

 

Cons: He’s been known to be a little tough on the equipment he’s driving, and he's been unable to get back to victory lane in quite some time.

 

Pick #23
Sheldon Creed
Age: 20
Hometown: Alpine, CA
Series: ARCA Racing Series
Twitter: @sheldoncreed
Last Year's Pick: Undrafted

This one is an interesting pick.  Nobody in the oval track world knew much about the kid until recently.  The now 20-year-old is a West Coaster, who comes from the Off-Road scene.  In fact, he is the 2014 Pro-Lite champion in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series.  The question was, when he made the switch, would his skills translate to pavement oval scene?

 

He dabbled around in the ARCA Racing Series in 2016 with limited success.  Last year he hooked up with MDM Motorsports and that is where his talents began to break through.  He scored five top-fives and eight top-10 finishes in just 11 races. Those are decent performances, but nothing to bank on a driver for.

 

This year, while he has not won yet, and we emphasize the word yet, he has been ARCA's most consistent driver.  After three races he leads the series championship standings by virtue of three-straight podium finishes.

 

The kid is not only good on the racetrack, but once you get him out of his shell if he doesn’t know ya, he’s got a fun personality too.

 

Pros: He has total car control and is beginning to pick up the nuances of the pavement scene.

 

Cons: He is admittedly slow to progress on a track’s driving characteristics during a race weekend.  We think this is because he doesn’t want to overdrive the car like he’s accustomed to doing in off-road.  However, this could be a good thing too.

 

Pick #24
Hudson O'Neal
Age: 17
Hometown: Martinsville, IN
Series: Dirt Late Models
Twitter: @HudsonONeal71
Last Year's Pick: Undrafted

The kid has it all.  He’s good looking, speaks well and he can drive the wheels off a Dirt Late Model.  If there was ever a driver to be able to make it to the big leagues of racing through Dirt Late Models, Hudson O’Neal may be that guy.

 

Two years removed from a 16-win season in Crate Dirt Late Models, Hudson O’Neal only scored three victories in 2018, one being a prelim night at the Gateway Dirt Nationals in December.  He was strong in the highly competitive world of the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series.  The 17-year-old won Rookie of the Year and scored a best finish of second among his seven top-five finishes.

 

The second-generation driver also competed in his first Lucas Oil Chili Bowl in Tulsa, OK and made his was into the B-Main.

 

O’Neal is being even more aggressive with his development in 2018.  He plans on more than 70 races between Dirt Late Model racing and some Winged Sprint Car competition.  

 

And oh, by the way, he’s the son of 2014 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series champ Don O’Neal.

 

Pros: He is the total package.  The girls love him for his looks and the guys love him for his on-track prowess.

 

Cons: In his second full year in a full-fledge Dirt Late Model, we would like to see him win more.

 

Pick #25
Carson Hocevar
Age: 15
Hometown: Portage, MI
Series: Super Late Models / Pro Late Models
Twitter: @CarsonHocevar14
Last Year's Pick: 49th

The young Carson Hocevar had a meteoric rise through the Short Track Draft rankings from 2017 to 2018. Hocevar was selected 49th overall in 2017. He made the top 25 this year on the back of multiple wins with the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour.

 

Hocevar scored three wins, six top fives and eight top-10 finishes in 12 races with the All-Stars Tour last year. He was the championship favorite, but a rough race in the finale at Winchester Speedway ended his title hopes.

 

The Michigan native also dabbled in Super Late Models last year and has done the same early this season. Hocevar scored a top-10 finish at the Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TN) in early April.

 

Pros: At just 15, Hocevar is a contender for a win everywhere he goes.

 

Cons: Failed to win JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour title after having dominant season.

 

- Text by Speed51.com Staff

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2018 PFC Short Track Draft Second-Round Picks: #11-25