Pick #1 – Derek Griffith
Hometown: Hudson, NH
Series/Division: Late Models / ARCA
Last Year’s Pick: 3rd
Talent is something that many athletes are born with, but it’s also something that can be developed through hard work and perseverance. Derek Griffith is a testament to that.
Griffith was not a superstar the first time he strapped in behind the wheel of a Super Late Model. In fact, it took him over 23 starts and three full seasons to earn his first Granite State Pro Stock Series win in 2015. But since that time, the floodgates have opened and Griffith has become one of the Northeast’s hottest racing prospects in quite some time.
Griffith has risen from the 49th pick in the 2016 Short Track Draft to the top pick in 2021, becoming one of the Northeast’s top racing prospects in years over that span.
After winning the GSPSS championship in 2015, the New Hampshire driver shifted his primary focus to the PASS Super Late Model circuit in 2016. He scored his first series victory that year and has won at least one PASS race every year since then for a total of 12 career wins.
What has taken Griffith to the next level compared to other great drivers from the Northeast has been his performance in other regions of the country. In addition to his PASS National championship in 2018, Griffith has turned heads at events such as the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway, where he’s now a two-time champion.
Although the driver known as “DG12” was a regional star prior to the 2020 season, it wasn’t until his performance at New Smyrna that winter that he gained national recognition. Not only did he win the Super Late Model championship that year, but he also turned heads with an impressive second-place finish in his ARCA Menards Series East debut.
That set Griffith up for a 2020 season that included seven top-10 finishes in eight ARCA starts, a PASS North win and two victories with the Granite State Pro Stock Series.
Once again, Griffith hit the ground running this past February by becoming the first driver to win back-to-back SLM championships at the New Smyrna World Series. He followed that up by sweeping the PASS Easter Bunny 150s at Hickory and winning the PASS North season opener during the Icebreaker at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.
His hot start to the year kept his name fresh in our voters mind ahead of the 2021 Short Track Draft presented by Ryno Classifieds, and it paid off with his selection as the number-one pick.
In addition to his on-track success, the former Kulwicki Driver Development Program finalist has also checked off the boxes away from the race track with a great personality, social media presence and sponsor appeal.
With his two scheduled ARCA starts in the record books, Griffith will look to continue his success in the Super Late Model ranks while looking to add a crown jewel win to his resume in 2021.
-Story by: Brandon Paul, Speed51 Director of Content – Twitter: @brandon_paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo