As we get ready to unveil the number-one pick on the live Short Track Draft show Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET, we remind you that there has never been a repeat number-one pick. Nor will there be, due to an eligibility requirement that makes the previous year’s top selection inelegible.
WATCH TONIGHT: Short Track Draft Presented by Ryno Classifieds
When we compare the Short Track Draft to the NFL Draft we see on TV, there is one difference. You typically don’t see busts among the top picks. All the drivers on the list have gone on to win big races or championships, and many have moved up the ladder to the top levels of the sport. Some have also stayed put and found winning ways in the short track ranks. The inaugural number-one pick from the 2004 Short Track Draft, Ryan Moore, tasted victory again this year during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway.
The most important part of the draft is the people involved, including the countless industry insiders that cast ballots from all over the country. It’s the industry experts, members of the media, track owners and series operators that help make the selection for the honor of the top driver in the Short Track Draft. Former top selections in the draft who are no longer eligible also chip in to help determine the results.
We, as an industry, have gotten it right many times over the years. 2010 top pick Chase Elliott won the NASCAR Cup Series title in 2020, and those of us who were there for the Late Model days are not surprised. We were relieved that Elliott signed a driver development deal with Hendrick Motorsports in 2011. Otherwise, he would have been the top vote getter in 2011 and 2012 prior to the new rule making former number-one picks ineligible.
Former number-one Short Track Draft selection Chase Elliott won the NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2020.
Elliott was not the first NASCAR champion selected number one in the Short Track Draft. In 2006, there was an under-18 version of the draft and Joey Logano was the clear cut pick for number one that year. Ironically, fellow Cup drivers Darrell Wallace, Jr. and Corey LaJoie were on that list in 2006.
The underage draft continued for a few years before the NASCAR rules were adjusted and we as a media source felt the need to produce just one list.
The simple fact is: you can’t watch a NASCAR race on TV without seeing the names that have been atop the charts each year during the Short Track Draft.
Unfortunately, tragedy has also struck former top picks in the draft, including our dear friends Charlie Bradberry and Matt Hawkins. Both were at the top of their games when they left this earth far too soon. Bradberry was a NASCAR Southeast champion and a Snowball Derby winner. Hawkins won his first Pro Cup and ARCA starts against some of the deepest fields ever assembled.
One honor we’ll experience this year is the final section of Stephen Nasse, who will no longer be eligible after this year. The Florida Late Model standout has made a name for himself and if he is selected this year, it will be his 10th overall selection. Nasse has been in the top five twice, including a fourth-place selection last year, but has not been selected higher than that.
Where will Nasse land this year? Who will be the number-one pick? Tune in to the live Short Track Draft show presented by Ryno Classifieds Wednesday night at 7 p.m. ET to find out. The live broadcast will be available for free on Speed51.TV and the Speed51 Facebook page presented by Five Star Race Car Bodies.
-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51 Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo
Former Short Track Draft #1 Picks
2020 Sam Mayer
2019 Chandler Smith
2018 Harrison Burton
2017 Todd Gilliland
2016 Ty Majeski
2015 Christopher Bell
2014 Daniel Hemric
2013 Kyle Benjamin
2012 Bubba Pollard
2011 Ross Kenseth
2010 Chase Elliott
2009 Brian Ickler
2008 Matt Hawkins
2007 Ryan Lawler
2006 Jason Hogan
2005 Charlie Bradberry
2004 Ryan Moore