Similar to the upcoming NFL Draft, the Speed51.com Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes has eligibility rules. Although it is possible for a short track racer to be selected on more than one occasion, there are certain requirements that they must meet in order to be eligible each year. If they don’t meet those requirements, they are deleted from the ballot and deemed ineligible for that particular year’s draft.
If a driver turns 26 years old prior to May 1, they are now ineligible for the Short Track Draft. A rule created prior to the 2016 Short Track Draft on Speed51.com made it so that only drivers 25 years and younger are eligible for the draft.
Another eligibility requirement involves driver participation in NASCAR’s national series, including the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series. If a driver lost their rookie status in any of NASCAR’s top-three touring series by the end of the 2018 season, they are ineligible. If a driver plans to compete in more than seven races in any of NASCAR’s top-three touring series during the 2019 season, they are also ineligible for the Short Track Draft.
The number-one pick from last year’s draft, Harrison Burton, is also ineligible for two reasons. Burton will be competing full-time in the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He is also ineligible due to a rule that doesn’t allow the prior year’s top pick to enter the draft.
In order to be eligible for the Short Track Draft, drivers must also have competed in at least one short track racing event within the last year.
This year’s list of ineligible drivers is headlined by last year’s No. 3 pick Casey Roderick.
After celebrating his 26th birthday in August, Roderick now exceeds the age requirement and is no longer eligible for the draft. Despite hitting the age limit, Roderick continues to turn heads in the Late Model world. In fact, his success in recent years earned him an opportunity to race for GMS Racing in last year’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Iowa Speedway.
Zane Smith, the seventh pick in the 2018 Short Track Draft, is ineligible for this year’s draft due to his eight-race NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule with JR Motorsports. Smith has competed in three of those races thus far, with a best finish of eighth last weekend at Richmond Raceway.
Brandon Sheppard, the 11th overall pick and second pick among dirt racers in 2018, has lost his eligibility after turning 26 years old in January. Sheppard has amassed 43 World of Outlaws Late Model Series victories and 12 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series wins in his career, establishing himself as one of the best Dirt Late Model racers in America.
Another dirt racer who has become one of the best in his discipline, World of Outlaws racer David Gravel is also now ineligible after turning 26 last June. Gravel has reached victory lane with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series on 41 different occasions during his career, while also finishing third in the championship standings the last three seasons.
After being right on the cutoff lie for last year’s Short Track Draft, 26-year-old Nick Hoffman is now ineligible after being selected 17th last year. Hoffman is widely known as one of the best DIRTcar UMP Modified racers in the country, which is even more evident after he collected his fourth straight DIRTcar Nationals championship at Volusia Speedway Park earlier this year during Florida Speedweeks.
Tanner Thorson, the 2017 USAC National Midget Series champion, has also become ineligible after being selected as the 20th pick in last year’s draft. Although Thorson still meets the age requirement, he competed in 11 NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series races in 2018, which eliminated his rookie eligibility with the series.
Sheldon Creed, the 2018 ARCA Racing Series champion and 23rd pick in last year’s draft, is competing full-time with GMS Racing in the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series in 2019. As a result, he is now ineligible for the 2019 Short Track Draft.
Natalie Decker, another top prospect in last year’s draft, will also be competing on a regular basis in NASCAR’s Truck Series. After being selected 32nd in the 2018 Short Track Draft, Decker has plans to compete in 17 races for DGR-Crosley in 2019.
The top draft pick from the “Mod Squad” one year ago has become ineligible after turning 26 years old in September. Patrick Emerling, the 2017 Race of Champions Modified Series champion, was selected 38th in the 2018 Short Track Draft.
Tyler Ankrum, the driver picked one spot behind Emerling, is now ineligible for the draft due to his plans to compete full-time with DGR-Crosley in the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series. After being selected 39th one year ago, Ankrum enjoyed a stellar season on his way to winning the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship.
After signing a deal to compete in eight NASCAR Xfinity Series races with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2019, last year’s 45th pick Riley Herbst has also been deemed ineligible for this year’s draft.
Anthony Alfredo, the 50th pick in the 2018 Short Track Draft, has lost his draft eligibility after signing a deal to compete in 13 NASCAR Truck Series events with DGR-Crosley.
Shane Lee, the 78th pick in last year’s draft, is ineligible after competing in a dozen NASCAR Xfinity Series events in 2018.
Other notable drivers who have become ineligible for this year’s draft include a pair of top 100 picks from last year: Larry Wight (88th) and Anthony Nocella (89th). Both drivers have turned 26 years old since last year’s draft.
More information about the 2019 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes will be announced soon. The official ballot of over 300 eligible short track drivers can be viewed by clicking here.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51