Often imitated, but never duplicated, the Speed51.com JRi Short Track Power Poll ranks drivers from all across the land on their strength to this point in the season.
A panel of industry experts from all four corners of the country and Canada have voted on their choices for the fifth Short Track Power poll of 2017. Drivers in all forms of short track racing, including Late Models, NASCAR Touring Series, ARCA, Dirt Late Models and Modifieds, NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and everything in between were eligible.
The rankings shown below were decided after polling our panel of experts in the industry. Rankings were based on overall number of votes, with more weight given to each vote the higher the vote. Example, a #1 vote would be more valuable than a #2, #3, etc.
Here are the results of the short track power rankings as of November 9, 2017:
#1 – Matt Sheppard – Dirt Modifieds - Over 40 wins and a winning percentage over 50% highlight Matt Sheppard's 2017 season. "Super Matt" put an exclamation point on his season last weekend by winning the final night of the World Finals and clinching his sixth Super DIRTcar Series championship. He also picked up a huge win at Super DIRT Week in October.
#2 – Matt Hirschman - Tour-type Modifieds – 2017 has been a year of the Matts. "Big Money" Matt Hirschman may not have totaled the amount of wins that Matt Sheppard did, but he certainly didn't lack in the quality department. Hirschman has scored a total of 15 victories including the North South Shootout, Race of Champions 250 and a clean sweep of the four Tri-Track Open Modified Series events.
#3 – Brandon Sheppard – Dirt Late Models – Just like 2017 has been a year of the Matts, it's also been a great year to have the last name Sheppard. Brandon Sheppard scored his record-tying 18th World of Outlaws Late Model Series victory of the season on Friday night during the World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. To put icing on the cake, he officially celebrated the 2017 season championship.
#4 – Doug Coby – NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour – Coby may not have captured as many victories as other drivers above and below him, but the feat he accomplished is just as impressive and "powerful" as any of them. Despite digging himself a big hole earlier in the season, Coby clawed back and captured his fourth straight (fifth overall) NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship during the season-ending Sunoco World Series at Thompson (CT). By winning his fourth straight championship, Coby joins Richie Evans and Jerry Cook as the only drivers to accomplish that feat.
#5 – Derek Thorn – Super Late Models – Thorn has been the driver to beat recently when it comes to Super Late Models on the West Coast. The California driver recently won the $10,000 Senator's Cup Fall Classic at The Bullring at Las Vegas (NV) before heading back home and capturing the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series penultimate race at Kern County Raceway Park (CA).
#6 – Matt Craig– Super Late Models – Another driver in the top 10, another driver with the first name Matt. This time around it's Matt Craig, who recently scored his sixth PASS South victory of the season during the North South Shootout at Concord Speedway (NC). Craig has only one finish worse than third this season and is well on his way to becoming a back-to-back PASS South champion.
#7 – Donny Schatz - World of Outlaws Sprint Cars – By taking the green flag on the first night of the World Finals, Donny Schatz officially clinched his ninth career World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series championship. But he wasn't done there. Schatz reached the 20-win plateau for the fifth consecutive season with a win on Friday night at The Dirt Track at Charlotte.
#8 – Dave Marcuccilli - Sportsman Modifieds – He may not compete at the highest level of short track racing, but his dominance is hard to ignore. At the Sportsman Modified level, there has been none better than Marcuccilli in 2017. He put an exclamation point on his season with three big victories to end the season. First, he won the Sportsman Modified feature during Super DIRT Week at Oswego Speedway. He followed that up by making his way to Outlaw Speedway for the Dutch Hoag Memorial and winning the Sportsman Modified portion. To end his season, Marcuccilli traveled to North Carolina and left with a World Short Track Championship trophy.
#9 – Josh Richards – Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series – If you were a race car driver and had the opportunity to win a race, a check for $100,000 and a championship worth $75,000 in one night, how would you feel? You'd probably be on cloud nine, right? Well, that's how Josh Richards is feeling after winning the Dirt Track World Championship at Portsmouth Raceway Park (OH). With the win, Richards leaped over Tim McCreadie in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series point standings to clinch his first series championship.
#10 – Todd Gilliland – NASCAR K&N Pro Series West – Gilliland capped off a six-win NASCAR K&N Pro Series West season by clinching his second straight championship recently at Kern County Raceway Park (CA). Add four NASCAR K&N Pro Series East wins and a runner-up finish in the championship standings and Gilliland has had a season to remember.
#11 – Mat Williamson – Dirt Modifieds – Williamson did something that very few drivers have done this season; he beat Matt Sheppard on Friday during the World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte. He also picked up an impressive victory in the Super DIRT Week 358 Modified satellite event at Utica-Rome Speedway (NY).
#12 – David Gravel – World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series – If there's a driver who has a chance at taking down Donny Schatz, it's David Gravel. He proved that to be true on the final night of the World Finals when he made a last-lap pass on Schatz to score his 18th win of the season.
#13 – Noah Gragson - Super Late Models – Gragson scored an elusive Super Late Model win and climbed the fence as the winner of the tough Winchester 400 at Winchester Speedway (IN).
#14 – Ty Majeski – Super Late Models – Majeski concluded a successful season in the Midwest by winning the Falloween 150 at Dells Raceway Park (WI) His season winning percentage is currently near 60 percent.
#15 – Derek Kraus – NASCAR K&N Pro Series West – Kraus ended his season on top by scoring his first series win in the season finale at Kern County.
#16 – Donnie Wilson – Super Late Models – The Oklahoma native traveled to the Music City of Nashville and took home a trophy guitar after winning the prestigious All American 400.
#17 – Buddy Shepherd – Super Late Models – Shepherd has been the only driver in the same zip code as Derek Thorn recently on the West Coast. He picked up a $10,000 win at Madera (CA) prior to finishing runner up to Thorn in the SRL race at Kern County.
#18 – Josh Berry – Late Model Stock Cars – Berry has long been a force in the Late Model Stock Car ranks, but he recently became a champion by locking up the CARS Tour Late Model Stock championship.
#19 – Johnny Sauter – Super Late Models – Sauter crossed a bucket list win off his resume by winning the ARCA Midwest Tour portion of Oktoberfest at LaCrosse (WI).
#20 – Keith Rocco– SK Modifieds – Rocco completed a feat never done before in Connecticut racing history by winning track championships at all three tracks. He won the SK Modified championship at Stafford, the Sunoco Modified title at Thompson and the SK Modified championship at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.
-Text by Speed51.com Staff
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com/MoJo Photos