Opinion: Top 10 Drivers Under 15 Years Old

Back in 2010, Stephen Nasse was just shy of his 15th birthday when he was named the 24th pick of the Speed51 Short Track Draft.  Since then, he has become a mainstay on the draft boards, entering his final season of Short Track Draft eligibility in 2021.  Another 14-year-old, Chase Elliott, was the top pick that year, and is now the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion.


Who are some of the drivers we might be talking about in similar fashion in 2031?  Here is a look at the Top 10 Drivers under 15 years old for the 2021 Speed51 Short Track Draft presented by RYNO.


1) Brent Crews – Over the years, Millbridge Speedway has developed into a training ground for young racers, who start out in their entry-level classes such as Beginner Box Stocks and work their way up to Outlaw Karts and Micro Sprints.  Brent Crews is one of those racers who has blossomed into one of the top young prospects in this year’s draft.


Crews is off to a hot start at Millbridge Speedway in 2021, with two wins on the year.  He also started the year with a third-place finish in the Non-Wing Outlaw portion of the Tulsa Shootout in Oklahoma.  Crews has also stepped up to Midget competition in 2021, and currently has three top-fives and five top-10s in seven POWRi races.

2) Caden Kvapil – The younger brother of Carson Kvapil, Caden appears to check many of the same boxes as his brother when it comes to draft evaluation.  Like Carson, Caden has won on both dirt and pavement between Outlaw Karts at Millbridge and Pro Late Model competition.  They also both have the lineage and tutelage of father Travis Kvapil, the 2003 NASCAR Truck Series champion.


Last year, Caden Kvapil was 61st in the Short Track Draft.  We will see where his stock stands after another strong year in his climb up the racing ladder.


3) Gavan Boschele – Another driver who has caught people’s attention at Millbridge Speedway, Boschele was the track’s Wednesday night Micro Sprint champion in 2020.  He also currently leads the 2021 points battle at Millbridge.


Our draft panel of experts look at the potential for drivers to succeed off the race track as well as on it, and this is an area where Boschele particularly shines.  His machines are already adorned with impressive sponsorships such as Drydene and Swindell Speed Lab, proving he is already a marketable young driver.


4) Charlie Keeven – In the first season of the Victory Custom Trailers CRA Junior Late Model Series, Keeven finished second in points to Chase Burda.  Both Burda, 16, and Keeven made the jump to the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour in 2020, with Keeven taking part in the Championship Chase’s final round at Winchester Speedway.


Keeven logged some impressive runs in 2020, particularly at Lucas Oil Raceway Park and Bristol Motor Speedway, and kicked off the 2021 Allen Turner Pro Late Model season with a third-place finish.  Now working with Donnie Wilson, Keeven could be primed for a breakout year in 2021.

5) Katie Hettinger – Hettinger became the second champion of CRA’s Junior Late Model series in 2020, winning two races and becoming the first female champion in Champion Racing Association history.


Now, Hettinger is cutting her teeth at “The Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars,” racing Limited Late Models at Hickory Motor Speedway.  She is also competing in Carolina Pro Late Model Series events when the series visits Hickory in 2021.


6) Ryan Timms – In 2015, a Micro Sprint graduate from Oklahoma named Christopher Bell was selected as the number-one pick of the Speed51 Short Track Draft.  Ryan Timms hopes to follow in those footsteps and one day become one of the top picks in the Short Track Draft.


Like Crews, Timms has made the move to bigger dirt cars in 2021 and is already posting impressive results.  Timms is eighth in POWRi points with a pair of top-five finishes and has a pair of wins in ASCS regional competition for Sprint Cars.


7) Jade Avedisian – Many drivers dream of winning a $20,000 race at any point in their career.  California’s Jade Avedisian did that last year, winning the John Hinck Memorial at Sweet Springs Motorsports Complex in Missouri.


A former Tulsa Shootout Restricted champion, Avedisian already has four Micro Sprints wins on the young 2021 season and will also be making POWRi Midget appearances during the year.


8) Bradley Erickson – Erickson won the championship in Madera Speedway’s Junior Late Model Championship in 2020, winning five races in that division as well as in his Pro Late Model debut to close out the year.


Now competing regular in the Pro Late Models, Erickson hopes to establish himself as one of the brightest young stars on the West Coast.


9) Trey Mills – Mills made headlines earlier this year by winning a 602 Late Model feature at Bristol Motor Speedway during the Bristol Dirt Nationals.  The 12-year-old racer joined a list of some of the biggest names in racing as a result of his triumph at “The Last Great Colosseum.”


With that feather under his cap, plenty of eyes will be on Mills to see what else he can achieve in his young career.  He’s a couple of years younger than most names on this list, but already off to a strong start in building his short track resume.


10) Bryson Harper – Another young Dirt Late Model racer, Bryson Harper has been trying his hand against older drivers for several years now.  He is a former winner in the Blue Ridge Outlaw Late Model Series, taking the checkered flag at Harris Speedway in 2019.


Since then, Harper has even moved up to Super Late Models, including a top-10 finish in the 2021 Carolina Clash season opener at Lancaster Motor Speedway.


-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans


Opinion: Top 10 Drivers Under 15 Years Old