Here are 2015 Short Track Draft Picks #11-#25.
Hometown: Seymour, Wisconsin
Series: ARCA Midwest Tour/Super Late Models
When the Seattle Seahawks drafted Russell Wilson, many “experts” didn’t think he would make it in the NFL. In his first three seasons, he has made two Super Bowl appearances, winning one of them. Last year, the short track “experts” didn’t expect much out of Ty Majeski and his name didn’t appear in the top-51 of the Short Track Draft results.
It’s now just a year later and Majeski, the defending ARCA Midwest Tour champion, is sitting just outside the top-10 in this year’s draft.
Last year on the ARCA Midwest Tour, Majeski recorded two wins, seven top-five’s and eight top-10 finishes. He also had a victory in the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series. He got off to a fast start in 2015 with a victory during the 49th Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.
Pros: He has been competing in many different Super Late Model events outside of the Midwest in order get more attention. He made the Snowball Derby field in his first attempt and had a top-ten run in the Rattler 250. In six starts at New Smyrna Speedway during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, he had one win, two top-five’s and four top-10 finishes.
Cons: Needs to be more consistent everywhere he runs. Even though he won the ARCA Midwest Tour championship, he had three finishes outside of top-20. If he can develop more consistency, we may just see him sneak into the top-10 in next year’s draft.
Hometown: Winston, Georgia
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Austin Hill is just quietly good, kind of like Andrew Luck when he was at Stanford University. Hill isn’t flashy, but he gets the job done. And Hill’s draft stock has risen exponentially as a result of some big performances over the last year or so in the premier NASCAR development series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
A year ago Hill wasn’t even in the top 51 in the 2014 Short Track Draft. This year he’s at the number-12 spot. Hill proved that his win at Dover in 2013 was no fluke by taming Miles the Monster for the second straight year in 2014. Then he opened up the 2015 season with an absolutely dominant performance at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) that saw him lead every single lap.
Pros: Hill shows that he can get the most out of the equipment he’s in. He’s not with a big budget team like an HScott Motorsports. He’s in family-owned equipment, but he still gets results.
Cons: He wasn’t the most consistent driver during the 2014 K&N East season as he had six finishes of 15th or worse. However, he has three top-ten finishes in three races to open this season so maybe that is turning around.
Hometown: Delaware, Ohio
Series: ARCA Racing Series/Super Late Models
Sometimes a player will announce that they are leaving college early to enter the NFL Draft with many questioning that decision. Many times, the player knows more than the expert when their performance on the field speaks for itself.
Last year, Joe Gibbs Racing Development driver Cody Coughlin made the jump to compete in 12 ARCA Racing Series events. At the end of the season, he had four top-five and nine top-10 finishes. Those top-five finishes came at tracks he raced on for the first time in his career. He also finished fourth in the 2015 ARCA Racing Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway in Florida after missing the pole by 0.004 second.
He also flexed his muscles in Super Late Model competition with one win, three top-five and four top-10 finishes in the ARCA/CRA Super Series.
Pros: His stock continues to rise in the Short Track Draft. His solid 2014 record in both ARCA and in Super Late Model competition showed his consistency on the track.
Cons: He is running a limited ARCA Racing Series schedule in 2015. With his consistent runs in 2014, one has to wonder if he could have been a championship contender this season.
Hometown: Sherrills Ford, North Carolina
Series: CARS Late Model Stock Tour
While Chase and Bill Elliott have the potential to be racing’s version of Peyton and Archie Manning, Todd Gilliland is hoping that he can follow in his father, David’s, footsteps to have a successful racing career in NASCAR’s top-three series. At just 14 years old he’s already off to a pretty good start.
A year ago he wasn’t on anybody’s radar. Now, at just 14 he gets picked 14th. How? Well, scoring a win in a series’ inaugural race will go far when it comes to a driver’s draft stock. Gilliland picked up the win in the CARS Late Model Stock Tour’s first event at Southern National Motorsports Park (NC) one month ago.
Pros: Even though he’s young, Todd Gilliland is very well spoken and understands how the racing world operates thanks to being the son of a Sprint Cup Series driver.
Cons: He hasn’t won much, but he’s still very young.
Hometown: Wheeling, West Virginia
Series: ARCA/CRA Super Series/Super Late Models
When a player is thinking about coming out of college early to enter the draft, some will tell that player that they should stay in school an extra year in an attempt to make their stock rise. Last year, this draft suggested to Braden that he races more outside of his area and he posted on social media that he would.
Braden jumped up 24 spots in the 2015 draft. This is a result of him winning his second consecutive ARCA/CRA Super Series powered by JEGS championship with two wins and 11 top-five finishes in 14 starts.
His spirited battle with Erik Jones in the Winchester 400 made that race an instant classic. He also went to the Snowball Derby, but came up a just a percentage or so short of making the big event.
Pros: He teamed up with former ASA Champion Gary St. Amant last year and the two worked very well together with seven podium finishes in the ARCA/CRA Super Series alone.
Cons: Still needs to branch out more in 2015, whether it be in Super Late Model or ARCA Racing Series events. He especially needs to do the big SLM events and finish well in those races.
Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series West
So far, 2015 hasn’t been very kind to the son of former NASCAR crew chief, Larry McReynolds, but that didn’t keep the voters from helping McReynolds’ stock rise this year. McReynolds was selected 21st overall in 2014, but this year he’s five spots higher.
Last year saw McReynolds scored 11 top-five finishes in 14 races with Bill McAnally on the NASCAR’s K&N West circuit on his way to a fourth-place finish in the standings. However he’s still searching for that first win K&N win.
Pros: McReynolds has proved he can win by taking the checkered flag at Talladega Superspeedway in an ARCA race. He also showed last year out west that he can be consistent over the course of a season.
Cons: One Talladega win won’t carry McReynolds to the top. He needs to start winning out west if he wants to continue to climb the ladder.
Hometown: Suwanee, Georgia
Series: Southern Super Series/CARS Super Late Model Tour
Sometimes the best football players only flourish when they find the right coach. Look at football players like Richard Sherman or Earl Thomas. Pretty decent football players in college, they only became NFL superstars when they were teamed up with defensive mastermind Pete Carroll.
Anderson Bowen fit that bill on the short track side in 2014. The former JEGS/CRA All-Star Tour Howie Lettow Rookie of the Year had shown plenty of speed and potential in his first few seasons of Late Model racing, but had just one major Pro Late Model victory to his name when he won at Watermelon Capital Speedway in late 2012.
But teaming with former Snowball Derby champion driver and crew chief Ricky Turner proved to be the right nudge that pushed Bowen over the top. Bowen won the prestigious Lebanon I-44 Master of the Pros in May and then found his way into Southern Super Series victory lane twice in the late summer. He ended his year with a solid ninth-place finish in the Snowball Derby.
Now Bowen finds himself in a critical 2015 season. Bowen has now proven himself to be a winner, but Turner and team amicably split ways during the offseason. Can Bowen keep improving and contend for more wins or will his team take a step back in 2015? 51’s panel of voters believed it will be the former as they picked him 17th on the big board.
Pros: Always competitive in Southeast Super Late Model competition and finally picked up much needed wins in 2014.
Cons: It will be interesting to see the type of year Bowen has in 2015 after splitting with Turner. That will go a long way in deciding where he will be next year at this time.
Joey Polewarczyk, Jr.
Hometown: Hudson, New Hampshire
Series: American-Canadian Tour
In his final year of eligibility for the Speed51.com Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes, 2014 American-Canadian Tour champion Joey Polewarczyk, Jr. is taken with the 18th pick.
After years of coming up just short of his first ACT championship, Polewarczyk put together one of the most consistent seasons in recent ACT history. In addition to two wins, the 25-year-old didn’t finish outside of the top-four in any of the nine ACT points-counting events.
It’s strange to think that after one of the most consistent years of his career that his stock would fall, but that is the case as he falls to 18th after being the No. 15 pick in last year’s draft.
The only reason we can think of for this fall is the lack of big-time wins. Polewarczyk is known as a big-money driver and he failed to capture wins in any of the Northeast Late Model crown jewel events last season. That’s a big change for the former winner of the Oxford 250, ACT Invitational, Milk Bowl and ACT International.
Pros: Continues to be one of the most dominant Late Model drivers in the Northeast. Mature on and off the track. Has proven he has what it takes to win big races, as well as a premier touring series title.
Cons: A poor qualifying draw and rain put a big damper on his chances to qualify for the Snowflake 100 at Five Flags (FL). That was a chance for Polewarczyk to prove himself against the best in the country, but he didn’t get a fair chance to do so. Expect him to return looking for revenge in 2015.
Hometown: Huntington Beach, California
Series: Super Late Models/Karts/Legends
It’s entirely possible for star football players to fly under the scout’s radar in college, but when the off-season Draft Combine comes around, they put up a performance that makes every team in the league salivate with hopes that the player will join their roster.
Safe to say, 15-year-old Zane Smith’s stock rose exponentially when he put on a combine-like performance in the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway in February. The graduate of the go-kart and Legends ranks on the West Coast teamed up with crew chief Gary Crooks for a full assault on the Super Late Model division during February Speedweeks and the two out-performed every team there. Smith’s victory and top-10 finishes in each of his seven starts earned him the division’s championship over drivers with far more experience behind the wheel.
Smith has continued that success with strong runs in the CARS Super Late Model Tour, Pro All Stars Series and beyond this season.
Pros: Immediate success and strong runs with a proven crew chief behind him. He’s also proven that he can race with, and beat, drivers with plenty more experience than he has.
Cons: One of the “flat-brimmed” hat kids from the West Coast, which gives off an air of cockiness. See: Kwasniewski, Dylan – a young driver who wore the cap with the flat brim and showed a lot of flash outside the car, but wasn’t able to hack it when he moved out of the short track ranks.
Hometown: Lawrenceville, Georgia
Series: Southern Super Series/Super Late Models
The career of Casey Roderick is that almost of a player who suffered a career-ending injury and yet found his way back to the sport to prove us all wrong. After lots of success in Legends, Late Models, and the ARCA Racing Series Roderick made his way to the pros.
After a rocky run he finds himself back at the short track level which, unlike professional football, you can return to your roots. Roderick made a big return in 2014 when he won the Rattler 250 and the World Crown 300. He finished seventh in points in the Southern Super Series in a division filled with prospects much like the SEC in football.
Roderick is strong like a defensive player under pressure. He’s by no means a dirty driver, but he’s not shy about using the bumper in the late stages to gain a spot or a win. That mentality comes from his Legends car roots where he was a champion many times over.
Roderick was a fourth pick back in 2010 before he left the short track ranks. Even now as a 20th pick you are getting an awesome driver who understands more at the age of 22 then he did at 17.
Pros: Smooth and solid behind the wheel and has shown the ability to win the big races.
Cons: Does not run a full schedule. Budget reasons keep him from leaving the south for other events.
Hometown: Hendersonville, Tennessee
Series: Late Model Stock Cars
Sometimes you get credit by association. That’s the case for many players coming out of the Southeastern Conference in college football. Considered the toughest conference in the country, many draft pundits give SEC players more benefit of the doubt in their rankings than they give to other conferences.
Berry comes from the SEC of the Late Model Stock ranks, the prestigious and historic confines of Hickory Motor Speedway. That’s what makes his championships at Hickory get a little more notice than winning a title anywhere else in the Southeast. Dale Earnhardt Jr. signing up to be his athletic booster doesn’t hurt either in terms of getting attention.
But of course you still have to win, and Berry’s been doing quite a bit of that in the last year. Nine victories propelled Berry to the Hickory title last season and he’s already won two of the first three Paramount Kia Big 10 Challenge races this season.
He also ran very impressively in limited NASCAR XFINITY Series starts last season for JR Motorsports.
Lee Pulliam may not be giving him any endorsements right now, but 51’s panel has made up for that by taking Berry off the board 21st.
Pros: Racing (and winning) at one of the Southeast’s toughest and most prestigious tracks has earned Berry plenty of recognition.
Cons: At 24 years old, Berry’s time to make it big is running out. He needs another impressive season if he hopes to get a call from one of NASCAR’s top-three series anytime soon.
Hometown: Oakwood, Illinois
Series: Dirt Late Models/Asphalt Super Late Models
There are times when a player has to transition from one position to another in order to make his career go farther. Julian Edelman of the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots was a quarterback in high school, but eventually made the transition over to wide receiver and it has most certainly paid off for him.
Bobby Pierce isn’t necessarily making a transition, but he’s multi-talented. The 18-year-old driver is known for his Late Model prowess, but on the dirt tracks around the country. He scored two wins with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series in 2014. Now he’s adding racing to his skill-set by racing Super Late Models.
Pros: Pierce can wheel just about anything as long as it has four wheels and a motor.
Cons: If he’s going to make the transition to pavement, he needs to get some better results. He may impress on the dirt, but his performance at New Smyrna Speedway’s World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing didn’t turn many heads. However, he did only make just two starts. No telling what he could have done if he was there for every race.
Hometown: Concord, North Carolina
Series: Southern Super Series/Super Late Models
A former UARA and PASS South winner, Grissom has proven that he is able to get the job done, however a drought over the past few years has seen his stock drop in this year’s draft.
Grissom always seems to be lingering near the front but his “two minute drill” seems to be where he has struggled as of late, not being able fully put together that last minute, game winning drive.
Pros: A recent Southern Super Series win in dominating fashion may be just what he needed to regain his confidence and return to winning form.
Cons: At 25 years old, time is running out on a chance to get a call up to the big three when we see 18 year old kids getting the nod and making the most of those opportunities.
Hometown: Youngsville, North Carolina
Series: CARS Late Model Stock Tour
In the 2014 Short Track Draft, Brayton Haws’ name is nowhere to be found. A year later he finds himself in the top 25. It’s similar to Shaq Thompson getting picked in the first round by the Carolina Panthers. Some may have not expected him to go in the first round, but there he is.
A lot of that has to do with Haws’ recent performance. After picking up a big win in the Autumn Classic at Southern National (NC) in 2014, Haws has gotten off to a blazing hot start in 2015. He scored the victory in the second CARS Late Model Stock Tour race at Orange County Speedway (NC) and finished sixth in the series opener at Southern National Motorsports Park (NC).
He’ll also be making limited starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East this year to gain experience in the larger stock cars.
Pros: Haws has big time backing from Rheem which can help carry him through the ranks as long as he clicks off some wins.
Cons: It’s too early to tell if Haws will be a consistent winner this year, but he’s still young enough where that could and should change.
Hometown: Wes Des Moines, Iowa
Series: ARCA Racing Series
JJ Watt is one of the fiercest competitors on the gridiron, yet off the field he is one of the friendliest guys around. The same could be said with Mason Mitchell, but he prefers to be Clark Kent out of the car and when it comes time to show his muscle, the Superman inside of him comes out in victory lane.
Last year, Mitchell showed his inner Superman when he emerged from his car and opened up his driver’s suit to show the famous “S” on a t-shirt. But that was the only time he was able to do that.
The 2014 ARCA Racing Series champion had a great battle with Grant Enfinger for the title, but he was able to capitalize on Enfinger’s problems to capture the championship. Many feel he should have won more races last year, and he won’t disagree as he had six second-place finishes.
Pros: Last year he proved that he is a consistent runner in the ARCA Racing Series with the one victory, 12 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes in 20 starts. Especially with the variety of tracks the series competes at all year long.
Cons: Not racing any series full-time in 2015 while focusing his efforts on his Mason Mitchell Motorsports program and full-time driver Austin Wayne Self. This could hurt Mitchell’s career if he is unable to shine in his limited starts in the ARCA Racing Series.
– Text by Speed51.com staff