The 2020 Short Track Draft ballot was completed by over 50 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 100 picks in the 2020 Short Track Draft.
The top 10 picks were revealed on the fist-ever live selection show last Thursday. The second round results (picks 11-25) were revealed Friday.
Now, it’s time to reveal the results from the third round of the 2020 Short Track Draft on Speed51.
Ruben Garcia, Jr.
Hometown: Mexico City, DFE, Mexico
Current Level: Stock Cars
Last Year’s Pick: 93rd
With this year’s 26th pick, Ruben Garcia, Jr. is the highest-rated prospect out of Mexico since Daniel Suarez was the 10th pick in 2014. Garcia, Jr. is now a three-time Peak Mexico Series champion after scoring another title in the series in 2019. He also holds two ARCA Menards Series East wins from the 2018 season.
Pros: Garcia has established himself as one of the top international prospects in the Short Track Draft and scored consistent finishes in ARCA East to boot.
Cons: He will need to compete in the United States with more frequency and a higher win rate in his final year of draft eligibility to move further up the board.
Herzog picked up the Madera Speedway MAV TV Pro Late Model champion in 2019, winning five races at the California track throughout 2019. He also finished second in his third-career Spears SRL Southwest Tour race at Madera last season, just behind multi-time series champion Derek Thorn.
Pros: He has inserted himself as one of the top Pro Late Model drivers in the Golden State.
Cons: Herzog doesn’t have much racing experience outside Madera Speedway.
Leary rode a wave of extreme consistency to the 2019 USAC National Sprint Car championship for new team Reinbold/Underwood Racing. In 34 races, he finished in the top five 24 times and was outside the top ten just twice all season. He earned two wins on the campaign, one of which came in the Oval Nationals at Perris Auto Speedway.
Pros: He will give you consistent, strong runs and won’t tear up equipment.
Cons: He’s been on the national trail since 2012, and he has yet to set the world on fire with wins.
After going the previous two years in the ARCA Menards Series East with Rev Racing winless, Cabre won twice in 2019 at Memphis International Raceway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway and finished second in series points. He is one of the favorites to win the ARCA East title in 2020 after a career year last season.
Pros: Cabre is starting to hit his stride in the ARCA Menards Series East.
Cons: At 23, he could be hitting his stride too late to jump to the next level.
If it seems like Max McLaughlin has already been around for a while, that’s because he has. The son of “Magic Shoes” Mike McLaughlin has been progressing up the ladder with various opportunities since debuting in the Short Track Draft back in 2015. Last year, McLaughlin finished fifth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship standings and recorded his first series victory. When the season resumes, he’ll look to build on that in 2020.
Pros: McLaughlin has proven to be very versatile during his racing career. In addition to winning a road course race last year at Watkins Glen, he’s also scored win on dirt in both Outlaw Karts and Dirt Modifieds. He’s also competed in Late Models, and he has plans to compete in Tour-type Modifieds on a part-time basis this season.
Cons: He has yet to have a breakout season that really grabs the attention of our industry experts. McLaughlin needs a multi-win, championship-winning season to really jump up the draft board in 2021.
After a breakout season in Tour-type Modified competition, Ronnie Williams enters the Short Track Draft top 100 for the first time in his career. Williams scored three wins with the Valenti Modified Racing Series in 2019, as well as a victory and championship with the ultra-competitive Tri-Track Open Modified Series. With his selection as the 31st pick, Williams is the highest-selected Tour-type Modified driver in this year’s draft.
Pros: He’s proven that he’s one of the best young talents in Modified racing, with wins in both SK Modifieds at Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) and Tour-type Modified wins at tracks throughout the Northeast region.
Cons: He has yet to break through and score a win on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, which is considered the toughest Modified tour in the country.
Jones took on the ARCA Menards Series West schedule with Sunrise Ford last season, winning his first-career series race at All-American Speedway and finishing second in series points en-route to the Rookie of the Year title. He is the son of racing veteran PJ and grandson of former Indy 500 winner Parnelli Jones.
Pros: Even with the family background, he has already made a name for himself for his own career. Comfortable with the media.
Cons: He currently has no ride for 2020, which hurt his final Short Track Draft result.
Slotting in just two picks after his 31st selection in last year’s draft, Chase Dowling is still considered one of the best young drivers in Modified racing. In 2019, Dowling recorded a pair of victories with both the Modified Racing Series and Tri-Track Open Modified Series. Following a runner-up finish in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour point standings in 2018, he only competed in nine of the 16 races last season.
Pros: He’s won races with nearly every Modified touring series in New England, as well as in the SK Modifieds at Stafford.
Cons: Instability with his rides in recent years have not allowed him to display all of his potential. When he’s in good equipment and running a full season, Dowling can battle with the best of the best in Modified racing.
Butcher jumps five spots up the draft board in this year’s draft after a few impressive showings in big Super Late Model races in the United States. Primarily known as one of the best Late Model racers currently competing in the Canadian Maritimes, Butcher showed he can battle the best in the states by winning the pole at the All American 400 and finishing third in the Snowball Derby.
Pros: He’s a star on his home turf, with 15 career Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour wins and two championships
Cons: He’s still lacking that marquee victory in the U.S. that could vault him up the draft board.
With a third-place finish in the ARCA Menards Series East points standings, including a return to victory lane at World Wide Technology Raceway, Davis recaptured some of his past Short Track Draft stock. The win was his first in the series since taking the checkered flag over Justin Haley in a photo finish at Dominion Raceway in 2016.
Pros: A resurgent year put Davis back in the minds of Short Track Draft voters
Cons: With an increased focus on moving up the ladder as a driver/owner in the NASCAR Truck Series, it remains to be seen if Davis will be draft-eligible next year.
Yackey won eight races on his way to the I-25 Speedway track championship in 2019, while also earning the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Colorado state championship. He also was the 2018 Kulwicki Driver Development Program champion.
Pros: Yackey has only gotten better in recent years, shown by his wins and his Colorado state champion.
Cons: His limited trips outside Colorado to race haven’t garnered much success.
Hometown: Enoree, SC
Current Level: Dirt Late Models
Last Year’s Pick: 80th
Mitchell scored his second consecutive ULTIMATE Super Late Model Series championship in 2019, scoring three wins, 10 top-fives and 15 top-10s in 17 races. He has also scored wins with the Carolina Clash Super Late Model Series and Xtreme DIRTcar Series already in 2020, and scored a top five in 2019 when the World of Outlaws Late Models came to Lancaster Motor Speedway.
Pros: Mitchell has established himself as one of the top dogs in the Southeast in Dirt Late Model racing.
Cons: To catch the eye of voters outside of his home region, Mitchell would likely need to travel more, and perform well when he does. For now, the focus is on pursuing a third ULTIMATE title.
He is already a winner on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series trail in 2020, scoring a win during the East Bay Winternationals in February. Moran was sixth in last year’s LOLMDS points standings with Dunn-Benson Motorsports.
Pros: Moran has one of the best personalities in the discipline. He also has father Donnie to lean on for advice.
Cons: Wins. He went winless in 2019 with one of the top rides in all of Dirt Late Model racing
Hometown: Franklin, TN
Current Level: Late Models
Last Year’s Pick: Undrafted
He referenced himself as “Mr. Close” in early 2019 due to the fact he had been so close to winning his first Pro Late Model race. By the end of the season, he was able to call himself “Champion” after winning two races and the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway championship. He makes the move to Super Late Models in 2020 to chase after the Southern Super Series crown.
Pros: He proved he can compete with the Southeast’s best on multiple occasions. Boone’s also one of the most approachable drivers at the track.
Cons: He will need to shine on the Super Late Model stage in 2020 if he is to get looked at by teams at the next level.
Pursley joined the potent Keith Kunz Motorsports stable last season, finishing fourth in POWRi National Midget League points in what was his first full year behind the wheel of a Midget. He makes the jump to the USAC ranks for a run at the Rookie of the Year title with KKM
Pros: At just 15 years old, Pursley is already armed with the resources necessary to succeed.
Cons: The expectations that come with driving a KKM Midget are sky high, and he will have to be competitive right out of the box on the USAC trail.
It’s surprising to see Ferguson take a slight dip in draft stock after a successful 2019. The cousin of Chris Ferguson won titles at the Bojangles’ Summer Shootout in Legends as well as the FASTRAK Racing Series for Dirt Pro Late Models in the year, making multiple trips to victory lane on both dirt and pavement.
Pros: After giving us a glimpse of his dirt racing ability in 2018, Ferguson had a breakthrough year in 2019.
Cons: If Ferguson is content to pursue a career in Dirt Late Models like his cousin, some panelists will begin looking elsewhere for their draft selections, regardless of his accomplishments.
After winning two straight Northwest Super Late Model Series titles in 2017 and 2018, Zamora made the jump to the ARCA Menards Series West with Bill McAnally Racing and finished fifth in points on the strength of six top-fives. Her schedule in 2020 sees her traveling outside the Northwest for marquee Super Late Model races while looking for starts in ARCA West.
Pros: She’s a proven winner in the Late Model ranks and is one of the most marketable drivers out there today.
Cons: She struggled at times in ARCA West last season while teammates Derek Kraus and Hailie Deegan both won multiple races.
Hometown: Bahama, NC
Current Level: Late Model Stock Cars
Last Year’s Pick: 33rd
Surprisingly, the second-generation Layne Riggs’ third season with the CARS Late Model Stock Tour was his worst. Riggs finished the year with five top-five finishes in the last six races, but he was unable to score a win with the series and a slow start to the year relegated him to seventh in points.
Pros: A three-time winner on the CARS Tour in his very young career, Riggs has the talent and pedigree to only get better and move up the ladder. He also showed resiliency bouncing back from a sluggish start to 2019.
Cons: Despite that bounce back, going winless over the course of 2019 hampered his draft stock. Winning cures all wounds, so getting back to victory lane would be huge.
The two-time JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour champion shook the monkey off his back last April when he won his first ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Anderson Speedway. He was towards the top of the points standings all year before finishing fourth and earning the Rookie of the Year honor in CRA’s premier series.
Pros: “JDIII” is a smart racer who will give you strong runs in big races while keeping the car clean.
Cons: Despite the two JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour championships, wins have come at a premium.
Raz made the trip south to Arizona weekly to compete for the Tuscon Speedway track title in 2019, garnering six wins and being crowned Arizona state champion while finishing second in track points. He is already a winner in 2020, having won the season opener at Tuscon in March.
Pros: Raz is an young up-and-coming driver who is starting to make his name on the West coast against stiff local competition.
Cons: He hasn’t received the same ARCA West opportunities that brother Gracin had received.
The 2016 NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion finally broke through with his first major Outlaw Super Late Model win last September in the Glass City 200 driving Bobby Blount’s “Sweet 16”. He scored three wins in Outlaw competition altogether, also winning at Midvale Speedway (OH) and at Flamboro Speedway (ON).
Pros: He has experience in multiple forms of race cars, including Stock Cars and template and wedge-bodied Late Models.
Cons: Since winning the Pinty’s Series title in 2016 as a rookie, his stock has taken a hit due to his limited starts behind the wheel.
Hometown: Marietta, GA
Current Level: Super Late Models
Last Year’s Pick: 49th
Kyle Plott broke through for his first career Late Model win at Five Flags Speedway, winning an Allen Turner Pro Late Model Series event at the Pensacola half-mile last August. We didn’t see as much of Plott in Super Late Models in 2019, but he made an early statement finishing second in a photo finish at CRA SpeedFest to start 2020.
Pros: Plott has proven he can win at some of the most challenging short tracks in the Southeast across multiple Late Model Series. He’s also expanded his off-track presence after being a Kulwicki Driver Development Program semifinalist in 2019.
Cons: While he has the raw talent to take the checkered flag on any given night, Plott will need to race – and win – with more consistency to attract more voting attention.
Sommers enjoyed a breakout season in a loaded state of Wisconsin, winning his first ARCA Midwest Tour race at State Park Speedway and being crowned Rookie of the Year. He also added two TUNDRA Super Late Model Series wins and finished second in points there.
Pros: Sommers has shown what it takes to become the next Wisconsin Super Late Model star.
Cons: He is not very active on social media.
At 14 years old, Grant Thompson is the youngest driver selected in the top 50 of this year’s Short Track Draft. In 2019, Thompson was the winner of the JR Late Model Challenge Camp, which grades young drivers based on their on-track and off-track potential. On the track, he was also the 2019 Pro Truck Champion at Mobile Speedway (AL) and scored a podium finish in the Snowball Derby Pro Truck race before a technical infraction.
Pros: He’s a 14 year old who conducts himself like a seasoned veteran. Have a discussion with this youngster and you’ll walk away saying, “wow.”
Cons: He’s still young and has yet to prove he can win races at a premier level. That will be the next step in his racing career as he moves into a Pro Late Model for 2020.
He had two top-fives with the ARCA Menards Series East last year driving for DGR-Crosley Racing. He made the jump to the ARCA Menards Series in 2020 with Venturini Motorsports, already having finished third in the opener at Daytona International Speedway.
Pros: He has shown potential in his short time on the short track racing scene. He is also active on social media, interacting with drivers and fans alike.
Cons: He needs to win and he needs to win now. The expectations are high in 2020 as he takes over the ride Christian Eckes took to the ARCA Menards Series title one year ago.
– Text by Speed51.com Staff