The 2015 Speed51.com Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes came to an end on Tuesday afternoon when the “Best of the Rest” outside of the top-51 picks were recognized. But what would a draft be without an in-depth look at the final results? It wouldn’t be a draft, right?
That’s why, over the course of the next week, 51 will be offering analysis and breaking down the Short Track Draft like never before.
Today, we’ll take a look at the drivers in this year’s draft who earned votes from this year’s batch of voters which includes NASCAR stars, short track racing media and industry insiders. Overall, 24 drivers recorded at least one first-place vote in this year’s version of the draft.
Out of those 24 drivers, #1 pick Christopher Bell led the way with a whopping 26 first-place votes. In addition to his success on dirt, Bell used big Super Late Model wins at the Rattler 250 and World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing to wow this year’s crop of voters.
Below is a full list of drivers who recorded first-place votes in the 2015 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes:
Dalton Sargeant (5) – Coined as “one of the hottest drivers in short track racing” in the #51WarRoom, Sargeant used his impressive end to the 2014 season and start to the 2015 season to get first-place votes from five voters in this year’s draft.
Ryan Preece (5) – They call him “Preece Lightning,” but he didn’t strike until late in the 2014 short track racing season. After a dismal start to defending his 2013 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour title, Preece won the last two NWMT events of 2014. He followed that up with a win at the North-South Shootout and the overall Tour-Type Modified championship at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. His late charge had five voters in this year’s draft selecting him as their first pick.
Corey LaJoie (4) – Four voters in this year’s draft still believed that “Supershoe” Corey LaJoie is still the hottest thing in short track racing. Although LaJoie didn’t accomplish a whole lot on the short tracks in 2014, voters believe he still has a chance to make it to the big time while running a part-time schedule with LFR Chassis’ Modified and Super Late Model teams in 2015.
Rico Abreu (3) – Abreu had thousands chanting his name after his 2015 Chili Bowl Nationals win in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In this year’s Short Track Draft, he had three voters chanting “Rico, Rico, Rico” as their first pick. He’s proven to be one of dirt racing’s biggest stars, so a strong campaign on asphalt could certainly put him in a position to make it to the top levels of NASCAR.
William Byron (3) – Byron is another driver who really burst onto the scene in 2015. His first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win was enough to convince three voters that he is truly the real deal. He’s mature on and off the track and has strong support from Liberty University. He’ll surely be one to watch in the coming years as he tries to climb to the top.
Harrison Burton (3) – The second-generation driver has flexed enough muscle at the young age of 14 to have three voters in this year’s draft select him as their No. 1 pick. Burton broke through with his first Super Late Model win at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing and appeared to be the dominant car all week long in New Smyrna, Florida. He’s mature for his age and many believe he has what it takes to make it to one of NASCAR’s top-three series.
Kyle Benjamin (2) – A former No. 1 pick in the Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes, Benjamin had been relatively quiet leading up to his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win at Bristol. But a win at Bristol and a strong showing in the first three K&N East events of 2015 had a pair of voters sold on Benjamin as the first pick in this year’s draft.
Bryan Clauson (2) – Clauson’s continued dominance on dirt earned him two first-place votes during his final year of eligibility in the 51 Short Track Draft. He’s a proven shoe on the dirt tracks, but what’s unclear is if he still has the desire to move into the asphalt ranks. If he does, there’s a pair of voters in this year’s draft ready to bring onboard to their team.
Cody Coughlin (2) – Coughlin’s first win in the competitive ARCA/CRA Super Series and a handful of solid runs with Venturini Motorsports in the ARCA Racing Series had two voters in this year’s draft ready to select him with their first pick. Gaining experience in the heavier type of stock car used by the ARCA Racing Series, as well as strong debuts at Daytona (FL) and Talladega (AL) certainly don’t hurt his stock in this year’s draft.
Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. (2) – Looked at as one of the best behind the wheel of a Late Model in the Northeast, “Joey Pole” earned first-place votes from two voters. The 2014 ACT champion showed a great amount of consistency on his way to securing his first career touring series title one year ago. He also has proven his ability to capture big money wins such as the Oxford 250 and ACT Invitational.
Brady Bacon (1) – Maybe this voter liked his name, or maybe they saw his impressive performance on the track in USAC Sprint competition in 2014. Either way, Bacon earned a single first-place vote in the 2015 Short Track Draft.
Josh Berry (1) – Berry’s performance in the Hickory Motor Speedway Late Model Stock division earned him one first-place vote. The JR Motorsports Development Driver made two starts in the NASCAR Xfinity series in 2014 and hopes to get additional shots at NASCAR’s top levels in 2015.
Travis Braden (1) – Braden’s ability to defend his ARCA/CRA Super Series championship in 2014 was enough to sell one voter on selecting him as their No. 1 pick.
Anderson Bowen (1) – One of the strongest competitors in Southeast Super Late Model competition in 2014, 17-year-old Anderson Bowen earned one first-place vote in this year’s draft.
Dylan Capello (1) – On the west coast, Capello was one of the more dominant short track racers in 2014. His two wins in Lucas Oil Modified competition, as well as the 2014 Lucas Oil Modified season championship, had one voter selecting him as their first pick.
Ross Kenseth (1) – A former No. 1 pick in the Short Track Draft, the son of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Matt Kenseth earned him one first-place vote. While Kenseth didn’t have the best of season’s on the track in 2014, he’s starting to put things in place for a chance to once again shine in 2015. He also has plans to make his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut with Joe Gibbs Racing on June 20 at Chicagoland.
Alex Labbe (1) – North of the border, Labbe was one of the strongest competitors in 2014. In addition to securing his first career Serie ACT title, he also picked up two PASS North Super Late Model wins and finished second to NASCAR star Kyle Busch at Autodrome Chaudiere (QC). All of that was enough to earn him a first-place vote in this year’s Short Track Draft.
Ty Majeski (1) – If this was an iRacing Short Track Draft, Ty Majeski very well could have been the No. 1 pick. But when it comes to racing on the nation’s short tracks, Majeski is still a pretty good shoe. The 2014 ARCA Midwest Tour champion is beginning to mix it up in bigger Super Late Model races and that can only help him moving forward. For now, his performance was good enough to earn one No. 1 selection in the Short Track Draft.
Brandon McReynolds (1) – The son of legendary NASCAR crew chief Larry McReynolds earned one first-place vote. He certainly has the knowledge and resources behind him, so a few wins could do a lot to help McReynolds get his shot at NASCAR’s top levels.
Bobby Pierce (1) – One of the hottest drivers in Dirt Late Model competition, Pierce earned himself one No. 1 selection. He’s trying to break into the asphalt ranks a bit, so a strong run on a new type of racing surface may help his stock rise.
Hunter Robbins (1) – Robbins doesn’t have a full-time ride lined up at this point, but his performance when he is behind the wheel has been impressive. Qualifying first for the prestigious Snowball Derby helped Robbins to earn one first-place vote.
Cole Timm (1) – His team is using the hashtag #57in15 on Twitter, and that may be no joke. Timm shocked the short track racing world by holding off this year’s top pick, Christopher Bell, in the inaugural CARS Super Late Model Tour race at Southern National. That performance was enough to have one voter buying Timm as the No. 1 pick.
Josh Williams (1) – Williams currently sits second in ARCA Racing Series points in 2015. He doesn’t drive for one of the series’ powerhouse teams, but he’s still able to get the job done running with the big boys. His talent behind the wheel earned him one first-place vote in this year’s draft.
-Text by 51 Staff. Featured Photo Credit: Speed51.com