2019 Short Track Draft Third-Round Picks: #26-51

The 2019 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes ballot was completed by 80 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-10 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 25. The second pick was revealed later that night.  The third, fourth and fifth picks were announced earlier in the day on Friday.


The reminder of the first-round picks (6-10) were announced later Friday night. The second round picks (11-25) were revealed Sunday night.


For the second 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 Tuesday, April 30 at 12 p.m. with the fifth and final round (76-100) being announced Tuesday, April 30 at 5 p.m.


Here are the 2019 Short Track Draft picks #26-51.

Pick #26
Giovanni Scelzi
Age: 17
Hometown: Fresno, CA
Current Level: Sprint Cars
Twitter: @GioScelzi
Last Year’s Pick: 57th


Scelzi shocked the Sprint Car racing world last September when at just 16 years old, he became the youngest driver to ever win a World of Outlaws Sprint Car race.  He did so at the famed Williams Grove Speedway (PA), beating the best drivers in the country in both the series regulars and the Pennsylvania Posse.  With a big win in the Asparagus Cup in his home state of California already this year, Scelzi made the 31 spot jump to 26th in the Speed51.com Short Track Draft.


Pros: He’s a young up-and-comer in the Sprint Car world that has proven he can beat the best.


Cons: His social media presence is scattered, and not much is known about his life outside the track.


Pick #27
Kyle Benjamin
Age: 21
Hometown: Easley, SC
Current Level: NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
Twitter: @KyleBenjamin_
Last Year’s Pick: 6th


If it seems like Kyle Benjamin has been around the Short Track Draft for a long time, it’s because he has.  This year marks the eighth consecutive year that the Easley, South Carolina driver has been selected in the top 51.  However, this is the lowest Benjamin has ever been since qualifying for the draft.  Much of that has to do with the fact that he’s without a full-time ride this season.  It’s possible he adds more races later in the year, but for now he’s employing an approach taken by Corey LaJoie a few years back and competing with LFR in select NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events.


Pros: When he’s given opportunities, he takes full advantage of them. Whether it’s in Super Late Models, K&N, ARCA or Trucks, Benjamin has found success in pretty much every car he’s driven.


Cons: He’s been around for a while now and still hasn’t landed the opportunity he needs. The lack of races currently on his 2019 scheduled don’t help either.


Pick #28
Zeb Wise
Age: 16
Hometown: Angola, IN
Current Level: Midgets
Twitter: @Zeb_Wise39
Last Year’s Pick: 64th


The kid out of the small northeast Indiana town of Angola took everyone by storm in 2018, but many believe 2019 will be his turn in the spotlight. Racing full-time for the Clauson-Marshall team, the 16 year-old is battling for the championship in the USAC National Midget Series. Last year, he recorded a big win on the prelim night at the famed “Brickyard” of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, plus he scored a USAC National Midget triumph in Pennsylvania and a POWRi victory in Illinois.


Pros: The kid tore up the national Quarter-Midget scene for years and has plenty of talent, plus he is a respectful young lad with plenty of fire in his belly.


Cons: It’s now or never for Zeb Wise. With the team he competes with, he needs to win more in 2019. Otherwise, he could disappear into what is a large talent pool of open-wheel racers.


Pick #29
Chase Purdy
Age: 19
Hometown: Meridian, MS
Series: Currently Without a Full-Time Ride
Twitter: @chasepurdy
Last Year’s Pick: 22nd


Chase Purdy stood a chance to move up dramatically in the Short Track Draft ranks for 2019 following a win in the Snowflake 100 and a fourth-place finish in the ARCA Menards Series points standings.  However, without a current full-time ride at any level, Purdy has quickly fallen off the radar of many experts voting in the Short Track Draft.  Some ballots listed Purdy very highly based on his exploits in 2018, while others dropped him well below his 2018 mark of 22nd in the Draft.


Pros: Won the biggest Pro Late Model race of the year in 2018 and impressed during a full-time ARCA campaign.


Cons: Without a ride, his profile and long-term prospects will suffer.


Pick #30
Devin Moran
Age: 24
Hometown: Dresden, OH
Current Level: Dirt Late Models
Twitter: @devinmoran99
Last Year’s Pick: 83rd


The apple didn’t fall far from the tree for Devin Moran and what an opportunity he has in 2019. The son of Dirt Late Model Hall-of-Famer Donnie Moran, Devin is now competing in the famed Dunn Benson Ford ride that has seen its fair share of talent, from Rodney Combs to Earl Pearson Jr. and most recently, Bobby Pierce. Moran has four wins in the last two years while racing to a top-five spot in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series standings. Even though he has one Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series victory to his credit, Moran is now competing for the Rookie of the Year honors and possibly event the championship on what many consider the top Dirt Late Model national tour in the county.


Pros: Moran is filled with exuberance, but he’s also his worst critic and that can be a good thing for a racer.  Devin always has his dad to lean on for advice as well.


Cons: He needs to win… now. All the big names have won in the Dunn Benson Ford ride.  In fact, Bobby Pierce won four times on the Lucas Oil circuit last year.


Pick #31
Chase Dowling
Age: 21
Hometown: Roxbury, CT
Current Level: Modifieds
Twitter: @CDowling_
Last Year’s Pick: 63rd


Dowling first established himself at Stafford Motor Speedway in the SK Modified division, where he has six career wins, including the SK 5K. After taking time to perfect his Tour-type Modified craft, he broke through last season on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour by winning one of the biggest races in tour history, the Musket 250. Dowling also has three non-NASCAR Tour-type Modified wins, the latest being this past month at Thompson with the Valenti Modified Racing Series.


Pros: A big reason Dowling can succeed in most any ride is that he has a great mechanical knowhow of race cars. Often times when he isn’t driving, you can find Dowling on the crew for a race team.


Cons: Dowling’s full-time status has often times been unstable.  For 2019, things got worse when he lost his full-time ride on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. Currently, Dowling is slated to compete in a select number of Tour-type Modified races for various owners.


Pick #32
Taylor Gray
Age: 14
Hometown: Denver, NC
Series: Late Model Stock Cars
Twitter: @TaylorGray17_
Last Year’s Pick: Undrafted


Gray already has a CARS Tour win at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) to his credit in his first season in Late Model Stock Cars and sits second in series points.  Along with his early accomplishments, he has a strong bloodline of racing success.  Father Shane Gray has a strong track record of success in NHRA Drag Racing, as well as older brother Tanner who won the NHRA Pro Stock Championship last year.


Pros: Already competitive against some of the biggest names in Late Model Stock racing after growing up in a family that knows how to win races.


Cons: While a great speaker for such a young driver, his social media presence lacks in areas.  Gray will also have to prove his early success was no fluke as he moves up the ladder.


Pick #33
Layne Riggs
Age: 16
Hometown: Bahama, NC
Series: Late Model Stock Cars
Twitter: @LayneRiggs99
Last Year’s Pick: 37th


Riggs won a CARS Tour event at Kingsport Speedway (TN) as well as a $15,000-to-win feature at Carteret County Speedway (NC) – a track where he was also in contention late for a CARS Tour win earlier in the year.  However, he was not in contention for the CARS Tour championship like he had been in 2017 (due in part to an injury suffered in an off-track dirt bike incident) and he is still looking for his first CARS Tour top-five in 2019.


Pros: Proven and able to compete with the fastest in Late Model Stock racing with three CARS Tour wins.


Cons: Needs to return to past form to regain the confidence of some experts.


Pick #34
Carson Macedo
Age: 22
Hometown: Leemore, CA
Current Level: Sprint Cars
Twitter: @Carson_Macedo
Last Year’s Pick: 84th


Macedo earned five wins in All-Star Circuit of Champions competition with Joe Gaerte in 2018 on his way to a second-place finish in the points standings.  He also earned an emotional Preliminary Night win during the Knoxville 360 Nationals driving for Jason Johnson Racing and would finish second in the main event on Saturday night.


He was chosen to drive for Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series star Kyle Larson full-time in the World of Outlaws in 2019.  So far, he has one win at Silver Dollar Speedway (CA) and has finished in the top 10 in all but two races.


Pros: He has shown he can win just about anywhere in the country.  He also has the support and backing from Kyle Larson.


Cons: At the age of 22, he will need to start gaining some asphalt experience soon if he wants a shot at one of NASCAR’s three national series.


Pick #35
Jesse Love
Age: 14
Hometown: Menlo Park, CA
Current Level: Midgets / Super Late Models / Sprint Cars
Twitter: @jesselovejr1
Last Year’s Pick: Undrafted


Love’s selection as the 35th pick shows how much potential this young gun has.  At the age of 14, he has already proven that he can win on both dirt and asphalt.  Love is a two-time Jr. Late Model champion at Madera Speedway and the 2017 USAC HPD Western Pavement and Overall Champion.  In 2019, he’ll have more opportunities to shine while racing a Midget for Keith Kunz and a Super Late Model in select SRL Southwest Tour Series events.


Pros: He’s already built up an impressive resume that has earned him a few great opportunities to continue moving up the racing ladder.


Cons: He’s still young and his wins haven’t come against the cream of the crop. He’ll need more wins at higher levels in order to climb higher in the Short Track Draft.


Pick #36
Carson Ferguson
Age: 19
Hometown: Charlotte, NC
Current Level: Dirt Late Models
Twitter: @carsonferguson
Last Year’s Pick: Undrafted


Even though he’s only 18 years old, many people have had their eye on Carson Ferguson for years. He’s a former Legends Car champ and also the cousin of Dirt Late Model racer Chris Ferguson. And while he’s been fast, Carson won the FASTRAK East Coast Rumble in 2018. He’s also won on the SECA circuit, but this year Ferguson is aiming for the FASTRAK Racing Series national title and a lot of people believe he is one of the favorites despite being one of the more underfunded teams.


Pros: He simply has plenty of talent behind the wheel and at such a young age he’s only going to get better.


Cons: He’s one blown engine or major crash out of missing a race of two in his quest for the FASTRAK crown.


Pick #37
Spencer Bayston
Age: 20
Hometown: Lebanon, IN
Current Level: Sprints / Midgets
Twitter: @spencerbayston
Last Year’s Pick: 18th


Bayston already has a big mark from 2017 when he won the USAC National Midget title. Even after missing one race on the 2018 USAC Midget season, Bayston still managed to come home fifth in the season standings with a single victory on the season. He also increased his Winged Sprint time, particularly on the All Star Circuit of Champions, where he recorded six top 10s during the year.


Pros: A wheel man and proven champion, Bayston can run with the best no matter what the ride. He’s still young at 20 years old, but he now has the experience under his belt as well.


Cons: Having just two wins overall, one on the USAC Midget tour, after a championship season is not the best way to win over our experts.


Pick #38
Max McLaughlin
Age: 19
Hometown: Mooresville, NC
Current Level: NASCAR K&N East / Dirt Modifieds
Twitter: @MaxMcLaughlin_
Last Year’s Pick: 29th


“Mad Max” did the opposite of what most racers might do, going from the south to the north to build his racing resume. For 2017 and 2018, after cutting his teeth at Millbridge Speedway, McLaughlin competed in Big-Block Dirt Modifieds, mostly on the Super DIRTcar Series.  McLaughlin, the son of “Magic Shoes” Mike McLaughlin, earned a Rookie of the Year title in 2017 and finished third in the 2018 standings. He also added weekly points wins at Brewerton Speedway and Land of Legends Raceway. For 2019, he transitions to asphalt in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with Hattori Racing.


Pros: He continues the McLaughlin family racing tradition with a great personality and presence on social media. He has also mixed up with some of the best dirt drivers in the nation.


Cons: While he has shown consistency, McLaughlin fell short of that big Super DIRTcar Series victory. So far, the consistency on dirt has yet to make its way to the asphalt.


Butcher takes the trophy from his win at Oyster Bed.

Pick #39
Cole Butcher
Age: 22
Hometown: Porter’s Lake, Nova Scotia, Canada
Current Level: Super Late Models
Twitter: @colebutcher1
Last Year’s Pick: 49th


Butcher continues to be a dominant force when it comes to Super Late Model racing in the Maritime region of Canada.  He also earned accolades off the track while being involved in the Kulwicki Driver Development Program.  In 2018, he scored four wins on the Maritime Pro Stock Tour and his first career PASS North victory.


Pros: He’s established himself as the driver to beat in the Maritime region of Canada.


Cons: He needs to continue racing outside of his comfort zones and away from home in order to get his name in front of more eyes.


Pick #40
Jack Dossey III
Age: 20
Hometown: Indianpolis, IN
Current Level: Super Late Models / Pro Late Models
Last Year’s Pick: 85th


Dossey won his second straight JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour title last year, becoming the first driver to do so in the history of the series.  He had four top fives and nine top-10 finishes in 11 races in 2018.  Additionally, he made his first starts in the ARCA Menards Series and the Snowball Derby.


So far in 2019, he had a top 10 in the Rattler 250 and a top five in the Baby Rattler at South Alabama Speedway.  He also earned his first ARCA/CRA Super Series win in the season opener at Anderson Speedway (IN).


Pros: He is a consistent driver who won’t tear equipment up.  He is also one of the most approachable drivers at the track.


Cons: Though he has won the past two JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour titles, he did so without winning a race either year.  More wins would help him elevate his draft stock.


Pick #41
Tanner Gray
Age: 20
Hometown: Artesia, NM
Series: ARCA/K&N Pro Series/Late Model Stock Cars
Twitter: @TannerGray5
Last Year’s Pick: Undrafted


Earlier we saw Taylor Gray on the Short Track Draft board, now meet Tanner Gray.  Tanner may be the more familiar name to well-rounded racing fans as a 2018 NHRA Champion.  This season, Tanner Gray has returned to the oval world, with two starts in the ARCA Menards Series and three NASCAR K&N Pro Series appearances.  Gray finished second in a thrilling photo-finish at Irwindale Speedway with the K&N Pro Series West.


Pros: Like his younger brother, he comes from a family of winners and has proven he has the makeup of a champion.


Cons: Still early in his return to oval racing, looking for statement performances to impress voters.


Pick #42
Tucker Klaasmeyer
Age: 23
Hometown: Paola, KS
Current Level: Midgets / Sprints
Twitter: @TKlaasmeyer
Last Year’s Pick: Undrafted


The 2018 season will be one that Klaasmeyer will not soon forget.  The Kansas driver hit his stride in the Lucas Oil POWRi National Midget ranks. He took home six wins on the year en route to his first title, a year after he came up one spot short. For 2019, he is now knocking on the door for his first USAC National Midget win.


Pros: He has not been afraid to load up his schedule to the max, traveling all over the Midwest and beyond to try and win. He is also getting his feet wet in the Sprint Car ranks.


Cons: Klaasmeyer needs to really get into the act on the USAC side if he wants to turn heads, something he has not accomplished so far. His time in Sprint Cars is also limited, a place where prospective owners tend to look for new talent.


Lanpher celebrates his big win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last June. (Speed51.com photo)

Pick #43
Reid Lanpher
Age: 20
Hometown: Manchester, ME
Current Level: Super Late Models
Twitter: None
Last Year’s Pick: 44th


Lanpher enjoyed a year full of big victories in 2018.  A hot streak during the summer months saw him beat Eddie MacDonald for the Granite State Pro Stock Series win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and then follow that up with a $10,000 victory in the U.S. Pro Stock / Super Late Model Nationals Championship at Seekonk Speedway. He also scored his third career podium finish in the prestigious Oxford 250.


Pros: He’s become one of the best young drivers on the New England Late Model circuit.


Cons: He hasn’t had a lot of success in the handful of opportunities he’s had on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series circuit.


Pick #44
McKenna Haase
Age: 22
Hometown: Des Moines, IA
Series: Sprint Cars
Twitter: @McKennaHaase
Last Year’s Pick: Undrafted


McKenna “Sassy” Haase holds a special place in the Knoxville Raceway (IA) record books, as the track’s first and only female feature winner.  Haase has five career wins at the famed Sprint Car Capital of the World.


Pros: Multiple wins at one of the most famous venues in Sprint Car racing.  She’s also going to gain some off-track exposure by competing on the television show “American Ninja Warrior.”


Cons: Has not “traveled” much at this stage of her career to test her mettle against other Sprint Car standouts, which makes it difficult to judge her performances on a larger scale.


Pick #45
Matt Craig
Age: 20
Hometown: Kannapolis, NC
Series: Super Late Models
Twitter: @matthewcraig54
Last Year’s Pick: 21st


Matt Craig’s draft stock took a hit in 2019, although it was probably unfair to expect him to repeat his dominance of the 2017 racing season.  While he won just one PASS South race in 2018 compared to six the prior year, it was still more than enough to take his third consecutive series title.


Pros: One of the best wheelmen in Super Late Models in the Carolinas, bar none.


Cons: Between limited travel and “next level” opportunities, it’s difficult to gauge where Craig stacks up outside of his home turf.  He can also have a rigid personality at times.


Pick #46
Trevor Huddleston
Age: 22
Hometown: Agoura Hills, CA
Current Level: K&N West
Twitter: @TrevorHudd50
Last Year’s Pick: 27th


As a NASCAR California State Champion, Trevor Huddleston has been a mainstay on the West Coast racing scene for years. Rolling off a hot 2018 season where he picked up three top fives and 11 top-10 finishes in the NASCAR K&N West Series, along with two top fives with the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour, he’s progressed quickly into a contender.


In 2019, he’s picked up where he left off, getting his first NASCAR K&N West Series victory in a photo finish at Irwindale Speedway over Tanner Gray. He’s striking while the iron is hot and if he continues this success he should see a drastic rebound in the 2020 Short Track Draft.


Pros: He’s got momentum on his side coming off his first K&N West victory.


Cons: He’s a West Coast racer who doesn’t travel much outside the region. This could have impacted his stock with many of our East Coast experts that voted in this year’s Short Track Draft.


Pick #47
CJ Leary
Age: 23
Hometown: Greenfield, IN
Current Level: Sprint Cars / Midgets / Silver Crown
Twitter: @CJ_Leary_
Last Year’s Pick: Undrafted


Leary picked up six wins in Non-Winged Sprint Car competition in 2018 and finished sixth in USAC National Sprint Car points.  While only one of those wins came in USAC national competition, he also won the USAC Silver Crown finale at Eldora Speedway (OH) during the Four Crown Nationals.  It was good enough for him to make the Short Track Draft for the first time.


So far in 2019, he has a USAC Sprint Car win during the Winter Dirt Games at Bubba Raceway Park, as well as three top fives and four top 10s in four USAC Midget races.  He sits second in USAC Sprint Car points and third in USAC Midget points.


Pros: He is a consistent frontrunner in USAC competition.  He’s also one of a select few open wheel dirt drivers selected in the Draft that has asphalt Super Late Model experience.


Cons: While he may be a consistent frontrunner in USAC, it has not translated to an overwhelming amount of wins.


Pick #48
Colby Howard
Age: 18
Hometown: Simpsonville, SC
Series: ARCA/Pro Late Models
Twitter: @colbyhoward16
Last Year’s Pick: Undrafted


“What Have You Done For Me Lately” isn’t even entirely true for Colby Howard, as his latest win in the Allen Turner Hyundai Pro Late Model Series came after the cutoff for Short Track Draft ballot submission.  Still, his Show Me the Money win at Montgomery Motor Speedway (AL) impressed voters enough for him to make the top 51.


Pros: Already off to a hot start in his Pro Late Model career with two wins in three starts in the Deep South.


Cons: Based on its timing, voters could only consider one of those wins when comparing his resume to other Short Track Draft prospects.


Pick #49
Kyle Plott
Age: 23
Hometown: Marietta, GA
Current Level: Super Late Models
Twitter: @KylePlott
Last Year’s Pick: 60th


Marietta, Georgia’s own Kyle Plott has been a staple in the Southeastern Super Late Model scene for years. He’s proven that he has the talent to win when everything comes together. The issue he seems to face is consistency. Picking up two wins in 2018 when the Southern Super Series visited Watermelon Capital Speedway and the CARS Tour went to Orange County Speedway were big wins for Plott and resulted in him rising 11 position up the draft board. In 2019, he will look for that extra consistency to continue the growth of his draft stock.


Pros: A blue collar racer, Plott isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and race hard with the best of them. Plott also expanded his presence away from the track by being named a semifinalist for the Kulwicki Driver Development Program.


Cons: While Plott shows bursts of raw talent, he’ll be looking to find the consistency to put a full season together.


Pick #50
Brittney Zamora
Age: 20
Hometown: Kennewick, WA
Current Level: K&N West / Super Late Models
Twitter: @brittneyz52
Last Year’s Pick: 41st


One of the biggest names currently in the Pacific Northwest, Zamora and her family operation have done well with what they have in order to move to the next level. Getting back to back titles in 2017 and 2018 on the Northwest Super Late Model Series with four wins total, veteran NASCAR K&N Series team owner Bill McAnally took notice. With backing from BMR and Toyota, Zamora has a full-time ride for the 2019 K&N Pro Series West season.


Pros: Zamora has not only proven that she can win in Super Late Models, but she has done a great job projecting her career and life to the racing community. She displayed that during her time with the Kulwicki Driver Development Program in 2018.


Cons: The Northwest has not had the strongest Super Late Model pool of talent in recent years, calling strength of competition into question. She also hasn’t set the world on fire in her first few K&N West starts.


Pick #51
Adam Lemke
Age: 16
Hometown: Hollister, CA
Current Level: Late Model Stock Cars
Twitter: @AdamLemkeRacing
Last Year’s Pick: Undrafted


A product of West Coast Midget racing, Lemke has proven that he can compete on both asphalt and dirt these last two years. Running the USAC Speed2 Western Midget Series Asphalt and Dirt tours full-time in 2017 and 2018, Lemke has nine wins on the asphalt, plus the 2018 series championship.  He also has another four on dirt with two straight championship runner-ups. For 2019, he’s on the East Coast running for JR Motorsports in Late Model Stock Cars.


Pros: He has shown great adaptability, not only switching between asphalt and dirt on the Midget level, he has also began to show a prowess for racing the full-bodied stuff too.


Cons: He does not have a great deal of time or success in full-bodied racing, raising some question marks among the panel of experts.


– Text by Speed51.com Staff

2019 Short Track Draft Third-Round Picks: #26-51