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 second JRi Shocks Short Track Power poll of 2018. 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 May 10, 2018:
#1 – Stewart Friesen (Previous Rank: NR) - Dirt Modifieds - "Mr. Freeze" has been nearly unstoppable in the Dirt Modified ranks since the beginning of April. Friesen's wins include the $7,500-to-win Bruce Rogers Memorial at Grandview Speedway (PA), the $6,000-to-win Battle of the Bay at Georgetown Speedway (DE), the $5,500-to-win Ice Jam at Fonda Speedway (NY) and the $5,000-to-win Short Track Super Series Hard Clay Open at Orange County Fair Speedway (NY). He also finished second in his first career asphalt Super Late Model race at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TN). Needless to say, Friesen has displayed a lot of power in recent weeks.
#2 – Zane Smith (Previous Rank: NR) - ARCA Racing Series – Smith may not have the quantity of wins that some drivers on this list have, but he certainly isn't lacking in the quality department. The "California Kid" shook the monkey off his back when he scored his first career ARCA win at Fairground Speedway Nashville. He followed that up a few weeks later with a big win at Talladega Superspeedway (AL).
#3 – Jonathan Davenport (Previous Rank: 1) - Dirt Late Models – "Superman" continues to fly high in the Dirt Late Model ranks, picking up three victories since the beginning of April. His recent victories include a pair of Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series wins at Tazewell Speedway (TN) and Hagerstown Speedway (MD), as well as a $20,000 Ultimate Super Late Model Series win at Virginia Motor Speedway. Davenport also currently leads the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series championship standings by over 200 points.
#4 – Philip Morris (Previous Rank: NR) - Late Model Stock Cars – If you're looking for the driver with the best win percentage so far in 2018, "King Philip" may be your guy. Morris is batting .700 so far this season with seven wins in 10 starts. He currently leads the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national standings with wins at South Boston Speedway (VA), Langley Speedway (VA) and Southern National Motorsports Park (NC).
#5 – Casey Roderick (Previous Rank: NR) – After a slow start to 2018, Roderick is beginning to find his groove. The Georgia driver has four wins and a runner-up finish in his last five starts. Roderick scored Pro Late Model wins at Montgomery Motor Speedway (AL), Five Flags Speedway (FL) and Mobile Speedway (AL), as well as a win in the North/South Super Late Model Challenge at Nashville.
#6 – Jeremy Doss (Previous Rank: NR) - Super Late Models – Doss has been the driver to beat on the West Coast Super Late Model scene so far in 2018. He's flexed his muscles with a pair of SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series wins at Madera Speedway (CA) and The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (NV). Doss also made a 13-hour trip to Evergreen Speedway in Washington to win the Super Late Model opener at the track.
#7 – Bubba Pollard (Previous Rank: 12) - Super Late Models – In between streaks of bad luck, Pollard has been able to find victory lane on four occasions in 2018. Two of those visits have been since the last edition of the Short Track Power Poll. The Senoia, GA driver picked up the $10,000 CARS Tour Mid-Atlantic Classic victory at Orange County Speedway (NC) and then won the Blizzard Series opener at Five Flags Speedway (FL) one week later. If it wasn't for some bad luck, Pollard could be even higher on this list.
#8 – Curtis Gerry (Previous Rank: NR) - Super Late Models – Since his Oxford 250 victory last August, Curtis Gerry has not lost a Pro All Stars Series (PASS) race that he's entered. The Maine driver kicked off his season with PASS North victories against strong field at both Oxford Plains Speedway (ME) and Beech Ridge Motor Speedway (ME). He followed those races up with a runner-up finish in Beech Ridge's NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season opener.
#9 – Donny Schatz (Previous Rank: 4) - Sprint Cars – After winning five races during the opening month of his season, Schatz has cooled off, but not by much. The Sprint Car ace has recorded three victories during the last month, including World of Outlaws wins at Arizona Speedway, Devil's Bowl Speedway (TX) and Lake Ozark Speedway (MO). Schatz remains the driver to beat and currently leads the WoO point standings by 80 points over Brad Sweet.
#10 – Brandon Sheppard (Previous Rank: 7) - Dirt Late Models – Like most of his dirt racing friends who were red hot during the month of February, Sheppard falls slightly in this edition of the Short Track Power Poll. "B-Shepp" has six overall wins already in 2018, but only two of those have come since the beginning of April. His recent wins include World of Outlaws Late Model Series victories at Whynot Motorsports Park (MS) and Lavonia Speedway (GA).
#11 – Bobby McCarty (Previous Rank: 17) - Late Model Stock Cars – McCarty jumps up the power rankings after proving that his win in the CARS Tour Late Model Stock season opener wasn't a fluke. The North Carolina driver recently scored his second CARS Tour win of the season at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC), and he has yet to finish a CARS Tour race outside the top five. Those numbers are good enough to also give him the current lead in the CARS Tour championship standings.
#12 –Sheldon Haudenschild (Previous Rank: 16) - Sprint Cars – While the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars circuit may still be Donny Schatz's playground, Haudenschild is doing his best to at least take a few trips around the merry-go-round. After scoring his first career WoO victory during Florida Speedweeks, Haudenschild has since followed it up with his second and third victories. He also has an All Star Circuit of Champions win to his credit in 2018, bringing his overall season total to four.
#13 –Chandler Smith (Previous Rank: 18) - Super Late Models –While winning races is the ultimate display of power in the Short Track Power Poll, it's not the only way for drivers to flex their muscles. Despite only winning one race in 2018, Chandler Smith has done enough to earn the respect of our panel in this edition of the power rankings. Smith won the pole award in both of his first two ARCA Racing Series starts and competed for the win before crashing late at Salem Speedway (IN). He also led the majority of the Blizzard Series opener at Five Flags Speedway (FL) before finishing third. Smith's lone win came during the ARCA/CRA Super Series portion of SpeedFest at Crisp Motorsports Park (GA).
#14 – Christian Eckes (Previous Rank: NR) - ARCA Racing Series – The driver who beat Chandler Smith in that ARCA race at Salem Speedway is none other than the driver who slots in one spot behind him in this edition of the Short Track Power Poll. Eckes broke a winless drought dating back to the 2016 Snowball Derby when he pulled into victory lane at Salem a few weeks ago. That one win has vaulted him back into the conversation of being one of the top prospects in short track racing.
#15 – Nick Hoffman (Previous Rank: 8) - Outlaw Karts/Dirt Late Models/Dirt Modifieds – Nick Hoffman will race everything and anything, and normally he'll win in whatever he's behind the wheel of. After starting the season by winning another DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified championship during Florida Speedweeks, Hoffman hasn't slowed down much. He recently scored an American Late Model Series win at the famed Eldora Speedway (OH) and an Outlaw Kart win at Millbridge Speedway (NC).
#16 – Ryan Preece (Previous Rank: 13) - Tour-type Modifieds – Following a pair of victories at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) in February, including the Richie Evans 100, Preece returned to his home state of Connecticut for a pair of big Modified events during the month of April. Preece kicked things off with a fourth-place finish (after missing practice and qualifying) at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park and then won the Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway for the second straight year.
#17 – Ray Bollinger (Previous Rank: NR) - UMP Dirt Modifieds – Bollinger has scored a half dozen victories thus far in 2018, including a three-win weekend to end the month of April. His wins have come all over the state of Illinois at Fayette County Speedway, Peoria Speedway, Lincoln Speedway, Spoon River Speedway, and Quincy Raceways. Bollinger's most recent win at Quincy came on a night when he was a one-man crew at the race track.
#18 – Bobby Pierce (Previous Rank: NR) - Dirt Late Models – Pierce has two victories to his name thus far in 2018, and they came during the same weekend. "The Smooth Operator" swept the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series weekend in Illinois, scoring victories at Tri-City Speedway and Macon Speedway.
#19 – Logan Seavey (Previous Rank: NR) - Dirt Midgets/Sprints – Seavey cracks the top 20 in the Short Track Power Poll following a trio of victories early on in the 2018 season. Seavey has scored wins with the Lucas Oil ASCS Sprint Cars Series, POWRi National Midget Series and USAC National Midget Series.
#20 – Kody Vanderwal - K&N West – Vanderwal grabbed the attention of the racing world by sweeping the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Twin 100s at his home track of Tucson Speedway (AZ) last weekend.
#21 – Derek Griffith (Previous Rank: 19) - Super Late Models – After cracking the top 20 following his PASS South win at Dillon Motor Speedway (SC), Griffith remains in the top 25 as a result of his win in the PASS North opener at Thompson (CT).
#22 – Taylor Miinch (Previous Rank: NR) - Lucas Oil Modifieds – Miinch swept the first three races of the Lucas Oil Modified Series season at Havasu 95 Speedway (AZ), Tucson Speedway (AZ) and The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (NV).
#23 – Ben Watkins (Previous Rank: NR) - Dirt Late Models – Watkins has recorded a trio of wins already in 2018, including wins in the first two FUEL Racing Series wins at Cherokee Speedway (SC) and Fayetteville Motor Speedway (NC).
#24 – Cory Hedgecock (Previous Rank: NR) - Dirt Late Models – Competing mostly in the Dirt Crate Late Model ranks, Hedgecock has scored eight victories already in 2018, including five since the beginning of April.
#25 – Chris Dilbeck - Pro/Super Late Models – Dilbeck enters the Short Track Power Poll following a Pro Late Model victory at Crisp Motorsports Park (GA) and his first career CARS Tour Super Late Model victory at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC).
-Text by Speed51.com Staff
-Featured photo credit: Zane Smith Facebook