Here are 2015 Short Track Draft Picks #26-#51.
Hometown: Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
Series: USAC Sprints
Watching the NFL draft on TV, one’s often a little surprised by some of the names. Not because these players aren’t talented, but just because frankly they’re hard to pronounce. Look at some of the names from this year’s first round: Cedric Ogbuehi, Breshad Perriman and Nelson Agholor.
Luckily, racing is a different story. Having a cool name is part of how athletes sell themselves. And “Brady Bacon” sounds like it belongs in racing movie lore next to “Cole Trickle” and “Ricky Bobby”. There’s not a name in dirt open wheel racing fans just like saying quite like Mr. Bacon’s (or his wife’s for that matter, Xia Xianna Bacon).
Of course, that easy branding is just part of the reason why Bacon finds himself going 26th in the Short Track Draft. Already in 2015 he’s racked up four victories and 16 top-10s in 23 starts. He won the 2014 USAC Sprint Car National Championship including a win in the prestigious Eldora 4-Crown Nationals.
He’s won in the ASCOC ranks and he keeps nipping away at getting his inaugural World of Outlaws victory. At the very least, he’ll end 2015 as part of the 51 Draft class. But we suspect there’ll be a few bigger accomplishments to highlight his season.
Pros: Bacon has plenty of wins on dirt in quite a few different types of cars.
Cons: So far he hasn’t shown much of a desire to do any asphalt racing, and that’s fine. However, if someone is looking for a driver to race their car on asphalt, they may steer clear of Bacon as a result.
Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina
Series: CARS Super Late Model Tour
Every year at the NFL Draft Combine, a handful of prospective draftees see their stock dramatically rise when they turn in a speedy 40-yard dash. Previously unknown commodities laying down times in the 4.2s or 4.3s may suddenly turn into a trendy first or second round draft pick.
No one has literally and figuratively sped up the draft board quite like Cole Timm. He ended the 2014 season with a singular PASS South win to his name and sneaking his way into the Snowball Derby.
But a switch to the CARS Super Late Model Tour has quickly grasped everyone’s attention. He won the first ever series race at Kenly (Southern National Motorsports Park) by turning in a qualifying lap a quarter-of-a-second faster than anyone else in the field and then winning in a duel with #1 Short Track Draft pick Christopher Bell. He packed that right back up by setting fast time in the next CARS SLM race at Rougemont.
Pros: Timm has proven he can win against some of the toughest Super Late Model competition around by taking victories in PASS competition, as well as on the CARS Tour.
Cons: While Timm has shown he can win, he just hasn’t done it enough to prove that he’s a consistent threat for the checkered flag each and every race.
Hometown: New Berlin, Illinois
Series: Dirt Late Models
The New Berlin, Illinois driver is turning heads in the dirt late model racing. He is always competitive and is consistently in the top ten. Like a tough veteran football player, he leaves it all on the track.
He showcased his consistency last year during the UMP DIRTcar Summer Nationals “The Hell Tour,” where he won twice, had 12 top-fives and 23 top-10’s in 28 starts.
Pros: When you look at his stats, they do get your attention when you look at his top-10’s like what is noted above. He ran 13 events in the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and had seven top-five’s and 9 top-ten finishes. He is well spoken and could be a great representative for a sponsor.
Cons: The obvious thing you look at his stats is lack of wins, and sure he would want more as well. More wins get more attention.
Hometown: Upper Lake, California
Series: SRL, NASCAR K&N Pro Series West
Doss has won at every level and yet he missed the SRL title by just a little bit in 2014. Beating the like of Derek Thorn and other west stars, Doss has become one of the best young Late Models talents in California.
Doss earned himself votes from 29% of voters on this year’s draft panel. Seven of those votes placed Doss in the top-10.
Pros: Has mastered every level quickly so he’s deserving of a chance at a higher level.
Cons: Needs to run more K&N races to get other eyes on him.
Hometown: Westborough, Massachusetts
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East/Super Late Models
In sports outside of racing, athletes are known to just stick to their game and play out their contract. But in racing, you see even the sport’s most popular stars like Kyle Busch sometimes mixing it up in many different forms of racing.
That can be said for 16-year-old Kaz Grala. Now driving full-time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East for Ben Kennedy Racing, Grala takes every chance he can get behind the wheel. He’s made Super Late Model starts for Kyle Busch Motorsports, as well as some spot Late Model Stock Car starts in 2015.
The kid likes to race and so far in 2015 he’s churning out solid performances with a fourth (Bristol) and sixth-place (Greenville Pickens) finish in K&N East action.
Pros: Never shies away from an opportunity to get behind the wheel. He’s a student of the sport with strong backing from Kiklos Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Cons: Lack of wins. Grala has a great opportunity this year driving for two good teams in their respective series. He needs to make a few trips to victory lane to improve his stock for next year’s draft.
Whether he’s behind the wheel of a Big Block Dirt Modified, a Super Late Model or a Late Model Stock Car, the young Tyler Dippel is fast. He doesn’t have many wins yet, but he’s a contender just about everywhere he goes on the dirt.
Pros: By racing just about anything with four wheels, Dippel has proven that he can adapt to just about any challenge he may face.
Cons: Being a contender is one thing, but at some point he needs to turn solid finishes into wins. Not having a Twitter account doesn’t help get his name out to the masses either.
Hometown: Maidstone, ON, Canada
Series: ARCA/CRA Super Series
NFL scouts begin recruiting their talent at a very young age and they search all parts of the world for the next big stars of the sport. If there were scouts in the highest levels of NASCAR, their eyes would be on Ontario native Grant Quinlan.
Quinlan is making himself known as one of the rising stars competing in the Midwest region of the United States. He recorded two wins on the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour in 2014 before making the jump up to the ARCA/CRA Super Series in 2015.
So far he looks to be making a smooth transition, as he’s recorded a podium finish and a top-10 finish in his first two starts.
Pros: Still very young, which leaves the door open to produce results that will catch the eye of those looking for talent to call up to the next level. He’s also proving he can make a smooth transition into a different style of race car.
Cons: He’s yet to win or produce strong results in any of the sport’s most prestigious races. He made the trip to the Snowflake 100 in 2014, but returned home with a 31st-place finish.
Hometown: El Reno, Oklahoma
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Kenzie Ruston has become a household name in short track racing. She’s proven throughout her time in NASCAR’s premier development series that she can be competitive and run strong. However, the two-time NASCAR Next member just hasn’t been able to break into the history books and into victory lane just yet. Ruston has scored seven career top-five finishes in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
Ruston earned votes from 28% of the voters in this year’s Short Track Draft.
Pros: Ruston has a great personality, a sweet southern charm and is great with the media and fans.
Cons: Ruston needs to start winning, otherwise she may miss out on a chance at the big time.
Hometown: Islip, New York
Series: NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour
One of the most important positions on the football field is that of the fullback. They’ll use their strength to push their way through the opposition. The man known as “The Natural” isn’t scared to use his big front bumper to push his way to the front since that’s what needs to be done at his home track of Riverhead Raceway (NY).
Solomito scored three top-five finishes en route to clinching Rookie of the Year honors on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2014.
Pros: Always willing to take the time to talk to the media or sign an autograph for a fan.
Cons: Solomito is already 23 and is racing a Modified, which isn’t where NASCAR owners usually look for talent.
Hometown: Dawsonville, Georgia
Series: NWSMT, NWMT, SLM, PLM
Davis continues to turn heads with his ability to transition relatively seamlessly between the mighty Modifieds and the Super Late Models or even Pro Late Models, often on the same weekend or even same day. He has managed top-10 and top five runs against some of the best in both open-wheeled and full-fendered cars. That ability could translate well should he get the call to move up into different series.
Pros: He is still young and continues to gather valuable seat time in top notch equipment against good, proven competition.
Cons: He will need to start turning solid runs into wins if he is going to stay on the radar. With more and more young drivers coming up and getting shots, attention may start slipping away from him.
Hometown: Peoria, Arizona
Series: Lucas Oil Modifieds
Once in a while, you will watch a football game and a player will stand out for what they did on the field. Next thing you know, you are researching this player on the Internet trying to answer…where did he come from?
Dylan Cappello did that last season in the Lucas Oil Modified Series, as he became their 2014 champion in his first year. In 10 events, he has two wins, seven top-five’s and eight top-ten finishes.
He started off his 2015 season by winning a 75-lap Lucas Oil Modified exhibition race during the Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California.
Pros: He has quickly proven that he can win in a Modified. He has a great personality and is very approachable. He is having fun.
Cons: Tough start already in 2015. After winning the exhibition race at KCRP, he finished outside of the top-10 in the first two Lucas Oil Modified Series events. Consistency and winning more will be needed for him to move ahead.
Hometown: Montgomery, Alabama
Series: Super Late Models
A proven winner and speedster now calls Nashville, TN home with his new job. He’s not playing for the Tennessee Titans, but he’s now racing the Fairground searching for All American dreams. He won three poles last season on the Southern Super Series schedule, but the wins have not been as frequent for him.
Robbins earned votes from 24% of the voters in this year’s draft with one of them selecting him as the No. 1 pick.
Pros: With an engineering degree he knows more about what’s under his car then most racing these days.
Cons: Finishing the job and visiting victory lane seems to be the crutch as of late.
Hometown: St-Albert, Quebec, Canada
Series: Serie ACT, Super Late Models, Canadian Tire Series
Breakout performances in any sport can help an athlete’s stock rise in an upcoming draft. In basketball, Stephen Curry entered college a relatively unknown. His performance at Davidson University during March Madness put him on the map and eventually led to him being drafted by the Golden State Warriors, where he was recently named MVP of the league.
North of the border in Quebec, Alex Labbe had a breakout season in 2015 that led to him being selected with the 38th pick in this year’s draft. Labbe secured his first career Serie ACT title in 2015 while also recording two PASS North victories and a runner-up finish to NASCAR star Kyle Busch at Autodrome Chaudiere (QC).
All of that, plus his two top-five finishes in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series, put Labbe in the draft for the first time in his career.
Pros: Very mature behind the wheel, very rarely getting into altercations with other drivers. Also speaks very good English despite being from Quebec, where the primary language is French
Cons: Hasn’t had the best of luck when traveling to major Late Model events throughout the country. He lacks that big win that would really help get his name out to the masses of short track racing fans.
Hometown: Colonial Heights, Virginia
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Dan Marino spent his entire NFL career as one of the best quarterbacks in the league, but one that could not win a Super Bowl. Although Marino had all of the tools to make him a great quarterback, he will never be in the debate for greatest quarterback of all-time because he lacked that big win.
So far in his young career, Gray Gaulding is short track racing’s Dan Marino. He has all the tools to become one of NASCAR’s next big stars, but he’s yet to put the results on the table to prove it.
His one NASCAR K&N Pro Series West win isn’t enough in the results category to earn him a higher spot in this year’s draft.
Pros: Great sponsor support from Krispy Kreme and a strong presence on social media.
Cons: Lack of results on the race track continues to plague Gaulding. A few wins in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East action could go a long way in getting him his shot at the big time.
Hometown: Talking Rock, Georgia
Series: PASS Pro Late Models
Smith has been lights-out in Bandolero competition in the Southeast, with two Bandolero Bandit National Championships and titles at the Charlotte Motor Speedway (NC) and Atlanta Motor Speedway (GA). The 12-year-old from Georgia earned a handful of top-10 votes from the panel, thanks in large part to not only his scale car accolades, but also his first PASS Pro Late Model win earlier in 2015.
Pros: At 12, he has plenty of accolades in Bandoleros and already a Late Model win, with still plenty of upside.
Cons: There have been a slew of young drivers who have plenty of Bandolero accolades as a youngster, but couldn’t keep up the trend in big cars. Time will tell if he bucks that trend.
Hometown: Sherrills Ford, North Carolina
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Recently retired safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Troy Palamalu was known for his talent on the field and his unique hair off the field. The same can be said for Jesse Little, the son of former Sprint Cup Series driver Chad Little. Little has ten career top-10 finishes, and scored his first and so far only career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win last July at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Little earned votes from 21% of the voters in this year’s draft.
Pros: Little has a famous last name and some flash that demands attention.
Cons: After running full-time the last two seasons, Little has scaled back his K&N efforts this season.
Bronson has gotten off to a great start in 2015 with two wins already to his credit. Bronson’s wins came with the United Dirt Late Model Challenge Series at East Bay Raceway Park and Bubba Raceway Park during Florida Speedweeks in February.
Pros: Bronson has proven this year and in the past that he can win against the best that Dirt Late Model racing has to offer.
Cons: Bronson doesn’t travel much beyond the Sunshine State, occasionally venturing north to Georgia but that’s about it. Another driver without a Twitter account, which hurts his ability to connect with fans and those in the industry.
Hometown: West Palm Beach, Florida
Series: Southern Super Series, Pro Late Models
Garrett Jones makes the 51 Draft for the first time in his career, but when you look at his record you almost wonder why has it taken this long? He was fourth in UARA in 2013 and won the Five Flags Speedway Pro Late Model title. He’s been a Speedweeks regular and was second in 2014 Super Late Model points. The results are there even if he’s built more like a JV player, but he races like a veteran.
Pros: Success at an early age has helped built him into a contender each week. He’s already the top rookie in the Southern Super Series ranks.
Cons: 2014 was almost a lost year as the loss of UARA left him sputtering in Pro Late Models, now that’s he’s moved up he should be able to run strong right away.
Hometown: Wilton, California
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series West
Lupton turned heads in Late Models at Irwindale (CA) as a teenager before catching the eye of Bob Bruncati’s venerable Sunrise Ford team in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West ranks. He earned two wins over two full seasons in the West Series and made his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut earlier in 2015.
Lupton earned votes from 20% of the voters for this year’s Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes.
Pros: Has the look and victories to show off on the resume.
Cons: Needed more victories in the West to really stand out as the next big thing to come out of the region.
Hometown: Napa, California
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series West
The young Californian has proved to be pretty strong out west as he scored one win in 2014, and has two top-ten finishes in 2015. He was also pretty strong in Legend car competition, but he’s adapted quite well so far to the full-size stock cars.
Pros: Bickford’s cousin is Jeff Gordon, and that could help as he tries to make his way up the ladder.
Cons: Bickford’s only two starts at Phoenix International Raceway haven’t exactly been good. If he wants to climb the ladder he needs to do better on weekends when the upper levels of NASCAR are racing at the same track as the K&N West Series.
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Series: CARS Late Model Stock Tour
In the NFL Draft, many players are often drafted for potential and not quite on what they’ve done thus far on their resume. Take a good look at someone like Matt Cassel. Cassel was never a starter in college, playing behind the shadow of Carson Palmer at USC. The New England Patriots though still saw someone with potential and took him with one of their picks in the NFL Draft.
A few years later, with Tom Brady out for the year with a knee injury, Cassel finally had his moment to shine. Combining his natural talent with the things he learned as understudy for some excellent quarterbacks, Cassel led the Patriots to a winning record.
If anyone fits that mold in the Short Track Draft it is Myatt Snider. Let’s be honest – he doesn’t have a highlight reel attached to his name quite yet as he begins his junior season of Late Model Stock racing. Two wins in shorter-distance LMSC races at Southern National are his only major victories thus far.
But he’s got some of the intangibles – he’s fast, he’s consistent, he doesn’t tear up his equipment too much, and he’s got a famous dad that is pushing his name up into national conversation. The CARS Late Model Stock Tour is giving him a chance to move forward this year on a competitive level and he’s responded thus far with a pair of 3rd place finishes in his two races.
Pros: The son of a veteran broadcaster knows how to treat fans and the media, even at a young age.
Cons: While Snider has a couple wins to his credit, he just hasn’t won enough yet.
Dominique Van Wieringen
Hometown: Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada
Series: Super Late Models
Once in a while, you will hear a football commentator say that a player is a “student of the game.” They are always studying and trying to find ways to be better. Dominique Van Wieringen is one of those students.
Over the last couple of years, she competed in ARCA/CRA Super Series powered by JEGS and JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour events. She won in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour at Lucas Oil Raceway in Clemont, Indiana in 2013.
She recently took a big step by teaming up with NEMCO Motorsports. Recently, she proved that this partnership is winning with a second place finish in the Southern Super Series/Blizzard Series race at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.
Pros: She already has two top-10 finishes with NEMCO Motorsports this season. Last year, she only had two in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour. This could be growing year for her.
Cons: When a car owner looks at her record, they may shy away from giving her a serious look. She will need to improve on that in 2015.
Hometown: Bremen, Kentucky
Series: Super Late Models & Pro Late Models
There are so many football or sports related movies out there where there is one character that everyone likes and wants to see them get their chance and do well. Hunter Baize could be one of those players.
Last year, he teamed up with Van Doorn Racing Development and they are making progress. He got his first win in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour in 2014 along with five top-five’s and six top-10 finishes.
In his first two starts in the ARCA/CRA Super Series powered by JEGS in 2015, he already has one top-five and two top-10 finishes.
Pros: He’s a likeable kid and is improving on the track. With the continued mentoring from Butch & Johnny Van Doorn, his stock could continue to rise in 2015.
Cons: At the age of 17, he needs to make the big step this year. He is off to a strong start in the ARCA/CRA Super Series, but needs to get to victory lane a few times.
Hometown: Charlotte, North Carolina
Series: Legends Cars, Dirt Late Models
Countless wins and championships in Bandoleros before joining with Legends Car superteam Ladyga Motorsports, where he earned the 2014 Summer Shootout Young Lions title. Has been getting his feet wet in Dirt Late Models this season, much like his cousin and top Southeast dirt LM talent Chris.
Pros: Friendly and personable with a winning record behind the wheel. Has impressed teammate and former Short Track Draft #1 pick Daniel Hemric.
Cons: The family lineage is in dirt racing, but if he is eyeing NASCAR success, he may be better off going asphalt Late Model racing instead of playing in the dirt.
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series West/Super Late Models
Last year, Aaron Rodgers left an important game in the second quarter with a calf injury. He later returned in the third quarter to help the Green Bay Packers secure the victory and a bye in the first round of the playoffs.
At the Winter Showdown earlier this year, Noah Gragson slammed his Super Late Model in the wall at Kern County Raceway Park. His Jefferson-Pitts Racing team returned later with a new rear stub on the car. Gragson went out and raced his way into the show.
He has two podium finishes in his first three starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, with one being the win this past weekend at Tucson Speedway. The kid’s stock is rising right now.
Pros: He is teamed up with Jefferson-Pitts Racing and they are already showing how strong they are in racing. Gragson is still early in his full-bodied stock car career, but he is off to a fast start.
Cons: He is still growing into his job as a driver. He needs to continue the momentum he has now all year long. He is catching some people’s eyes early on, and will continue to gain more attention if he stays on his hot streak.
Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina
Series: Renegades of Dirt, Mini Outlaws
The son of Modified star and former NASCAR racer “Magic Shoes” Mike, the younger McLaughlin caught the eye of the panel throughout 2013 and 2014 with several strong runs in the Mini Outlaw Series at Millbridge Speedway (NC). He picked up his first big-car win with a dirt Modified feature victory early in 2015.
Pros: Has a strong family pedigree of success, as dad was one of the top dirt-turned-asphalt racers of his generation in the Northeast.
Cons: Dad didn’t get a shot to make a NASCAR name for himself until he went pavement racing, so we’ll see if Max will have to do the same as well.
– Text by Speed51.com staff