Pick #1 – Derek Griffith
Hometown: Hudson, NH
Series/Division: Late Models / ARCA
Last Year’s Pick: 3rd
“DG12” was on the fringe of a top-10 pick in the Speed51 Short Track Draft for several years before this breakthrough performance at the 2020 World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway, winning the Super Late Model championship and nearly scoring the victory in the ARCA Menards Series East event that February. That performance placed him third in the 2020 Short Track Draft.
Since then, Griffith has only continued his success, including another World Series championship, seven top-10 finishes in the ARCA Menards Series, two Granite State Pro Stock Series wins, a sweep of the PASS Easter Bunny 150s and a PASS win at the Thompson Icebreaker.
READ MORE: Griffith Named No. 1 Pick in 2021 Short Track Draft
Pick #2 – Corey Heim
Hometown: Marietta, GA
Last Year’s Pick: 8th
Even for top college football players, a breakout season in their junior or senior year before entering the NFL Draft can lead to a huge boost in their draft stock.
Corey Heim is an example of that in this year’s Short Track Draft. Heim’s breakout began in 2020, just in time to move up to eighth in last year’s Short Track Draft, with a win at CRA SpeedFest at Crisp Motorsports Park.
Since then, Heim has continued to build on his resume. He is now a three-time winner with the ARCA Menards Series, with victories at Kansas Speedway, Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. Heim also added a CARS Late Model Stock Tour win at Hickory Motor Speedway last June, as well as another Super Late Model win at Crisp this spring.
Pick #3 – Stephen Nasse
Hometown: Pinellas Park, FL
Series/Division: Late Models
Last Year’s Pick: 4th
*Celebrated 26th birthday on May 5
Stephen Nasse barely snuck into this year’s Short Track Draft, as he was still 25 years old at the eligibility deadline of April 1, 2021. However, there was no doubt he’d be near the top of the board come draft time.
Nasse had another strong year in 2020, winning his second Southern Super Series championship and winning several races, including the Pro Late Model portion of the All American 400 at Nashville, the #Forever11 100 at Five Flags Speedway and the Clyde Hart Memorial at New Smyrna Speedway.
Nasse was also fast in all of the crown jewel events of 2020, including podium finishes at the All American 400 and Winchester 400. 2021 has already included wins at New Smyrna Speedway during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, South Alabama Speedway in the Baby Rattler 125 and at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in a co-sanctioned race.
Pick #4 – Michael “Buddy” Kofoid
Hometown: Penngrove, CA
Series/Division: Midgets/Sprint Cars
Last Year’s Pick: 13
Kyle Pitts, the fourth pick in the NFL Draft, saw his already high draft stock raise even higher with a strong 2020 season at the University of Florida. The same can be said about Buddy Kofoid, who jumped nine spots from last year to be the highest drafted dirt racer in the Short Track Draft.
The California driver joined the Midget ranks for his first full-time season in the Keith Kunz Motorsports flagship No. 67 and did not disappoint. He won seven POWRi National Midget races in 16 starts, while also adding another three wins and a fourth-place points finish with USAC.
Kofoid also saw success in the Sprint Car realm, winning with the All Star Circuit of Champions and finishing top-five in all three of his USAC National Sprint Car starts during the Kokomo Sprint Car Smackdown.
He is already off to a hot start in 2021, holding the USAC National Midget points lead while also having won four POWRi races in five starts. He has also made his first foray into the asphalt world, making Late Model starts in the Northwest.
Pick #5 – Jeremy Doss
Hometown: Upper Lake, CA
Series/Division: Late Models
Last Year’s Pick: 14th
We didn’t see as much of Jeremy Doss in 2020, thanks in no small part to the impacts of COVID-19 particularly on the West Coast. That didn’t stop him from winning at a prolific pace that caught the attention of our expert panel for his best ever draft selection, improving on 7th in 2019.
Doss won a pair of major Late Model races in the state of Idaho, the Idaho 200 at Stateline Speedway and the Idaho 208 at Meridian Speedway. He was also virtually unstoppable in the Spears Manufacturing Modified Series, winning five of the series’ eight races en route to the 2020 championship.
Oh, and Doss is performing just as well to start 2021. He has two wins in three Spears Modified events to kick off the year, and is a perfect four-for-four in the new Spears Pro Late Model Series.
Doss’ stock may have taken a hit in the 2020 Short Track Draft, but he bounced back in a big way to move into the top five in 2021.
Pick #6 – Bobby Pierce
Hometown: Oakwood, IL
Series/Division: Dirt Late Models
Last Year’s Pick: 7th
As with Alabama wide receivers Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith, Bobby Pierce has been on draft boards for a long time now. While having been on the radar for an extended period of time, the “Smooth Operator” continues to put up strong numbers.
At just 24 years old, his accolades rival any other driver in Dirt Late Model racing’s. The World 100, Silver Dollar Nationals, Jackson 100, Gateway Dirt Nationals, North-South 100, and Show-Me 100 are all races Pierce has checked off on his wins list.
He visited victory lane eight times in 2020, doing so at eight different tracks. Pierce won with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, MARS, MLRA and the DIRTcar Summer Nationals.
So far in 2021, Pierce has already added three wins to his resume. Two of those came in the Illini 100 at Farmer City Raceway and the Hawkeye 100 at Boone Speedway, his first two World of Outlaws Late Model Series wins of his career.
Pick #7 – Matt Craig
Hometown: Kannapolis, NC
Series/Division: Late Models
Last Year’s Pick: 15th
One of the most difficult things that a star junior year athlete can do after a championship season is to come back for senior year rather than go to the NFL. The pressure of contributing to a repeat rather than starting at the next level can sometimes be even higher. Much is the same for any short track driver, but for Matt Craig he rose to the challenge in 2020.
After winning the CARS Tour Super Late Model title in 2019, Craig immediately carried on to start off the 2020 season, winning his first two races of the season, the PRA and CARS Tour season openers at Southern National Motorsports Park. Even the COVID-19 shutdown didn’t slow his momentum, as Craig was almost always in the mix from June on.
Returning to victory lane in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Series Masters of the Pros 150 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway with his Pro Late Model, Craig recorded two more CARS SLM wins at Hickory Motor Speedway and Florence Motor Speedway before claiming his second straight season title.
Since winning the first of three-straight PASS South titles in 2016, Craig has maintained a steady improvement, rising into the Short Track Draft Top 10 and Pick #7 for 2021.
Pick #8 – Jesse Love
Hometown: Menlo Park, CA
Series/Division: ARCA/Late Models
Twitter: @JesseLoveRacing | @jesselovejr1
Last Year’s Pick: 19th
Jesse Love was a virtual unknown before the 2020 World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway, where he scored a Super Late Model win and a third-place finish in points. Since then, Love has proven that was more than a fluke performance at the “combine” and risen up the draft boards.
Love won three ARCA Menards Series West races in 2020, taking that series’ championship in the process as a rookie. He made his ARCA Menards Series debut this season, finishing sixth at Phoenix Raceway.
While a return to New Smyrna’s victory lane eluded him in February, Love finished fifth in points at the 2021 World Series and scored three podium finishes. Considering his competition included fellow top 10 draft picks Derek Griffith and Stephen Nasse (as well as the 10th pick on the board), it was no small feat.
Pick #9 – Cannon McIntosh
Hometown: Bixby, OK
Last Year’s Pick: 18th
One year after jumping into the spotlight with a Chili Bowl preliminary night victory and a third in the A-Main, McIntosh boosted his draft stock even more and jumped nine spots.
The Oklahoma native ran a full USAC Midget schedule for Keith Kunz Motorsports after his strong performance at the 2020 Chili Bowl Nationals, finishing fifth in series points and adding two wins in the process. He also scored another three wins with POWRi and finished third in series standings there despite skipping three races.
McIntosh repeated his 2020 efforts at the Chili Bowl by winning the Monday night preliminary feature for the second year in a row back in January. He then finished fourth in Saturday night’s main event in front of the home crowd.
He returns to the family-owned Dave Mac Motorsports to make a run at the USAC Midget crown alongside teammate and former series champion Tanner Thorson. He is also slated to make select Non-Wing Sprint Car starts for Daigh/Phillips Motorsports throughout the state of Indiana.
Pick #10 – Jake Garcia
Hometown: Monroe, GA
Series/Division: Late Models
Last Year’s Pick: 10th
The sophomore slump, the dreaded words that haunt the young guns of any sport, whether in amateurs or the pros. While immediate improvement is the ideal goal, just holding level is an accomplishment in its own.
In 2020, Jake Garcia was selected at #10 in the Short Track Draft, fast forward one year and it’s another #10 selection.
Just before the onset of the pandemic, Garcia pulled off one of the Pro Late Model crown jewels: the Alabama 200 at Montgomery Motor Speedway. Later in the year, he would pull off two more Show Me The Money Series wins at Montgomery, and scoring high in points despite missing a race. While he missed out on his first Super Late Model win, he did manage seven top-five finishes in 18 SLM races.
It was perhaps not the breakout some had predicted following a runner-up in the 2019 Snowball Derby, but this Georgia driver has remained a contender in each and every race he competes in.
-Text by Speed51 Staff