Preparations for the 2019 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes on Speed51.com are underway. The ballot was recently revealed and sent out to a panel of industry experts to determine the top short track racing prospects in North America.
As we prepare for the draft, we’ll be taking a look at a handful of drivers and providing scouting reports just like you would see ahead of the NFL Draft. These scouting reports will take a look at a driver’s on-track performance, as well as other qualities that may make or break their chances of making it to the top levels of NASCAR.
We continue our round of scouting reports today with a look at Sam Mayer, who will be looking to make the list of top 51 prospects for the first time.
Current Level: Super Late Models
Hometown: Grand Bay, AL
Highest Pick: 62 (2018)
Anticipated Pick: 6th - 12th
Okrzesik came on to the short track scene in late 2016 while making spontaneous starts throughout the Deep South. After going full-time in the Southern Super Series in 2017, he’s picked up a eight top-five finishes along the way. Through guidance from crew chief Mike Garvey, he quickly grabbed his first big win in the competitive Show Me the Money Pro Late Model Series at Montgomery Motor Speedway in 2018.
After closing out the 2018 season with a strong fourth-place finish in the Snowball Derby, Okrzesik stole the attention of the short track world in January by beating out Kyle Busch for the win at CRA Speedfest 2019. Spurned on by this success, he made his first ARCA Menards Series start at Five Flags Speedway in March, picking up a seventh-place finish with his family-owned team.
After being selected 62nd in last year’s draft, Okrzesik will likely ride the wave of momentum up the draft board this year.
Rising, Falling or Holding Steady: Rising
It’s amazing what a win will do for an up and coming driver, especially if it comes after holding off former NASCAR Champion Kyle Busch in the closing laps of the ARCA/CRA SpeedFest 200. The last young driver to do that was Erik Jones at the Snowball Derby.
Since his SpeedFest win, Okrzesik has been able to string together a few more top-five finishes and get his first ARCA Menards Series start at Five Flags Speedway. With a new air of confidence behind him, Okrzesik’s stock has never been hotter.
On-Track Accomplishments: B+
Although he has only recently scored his only Super Late Model win, he’s on track to pick up a few more throughout the season.
Outside of victory lane, Okrzesik has been a consistent driver in nearly everything he's driven. He's not a driver that is normally going to tear up equipment, and he certainly doesn't have the reputation of doing so.
Away from the race car is where Okrzesik begins to struggle. The polish begins to wear off once he gets behind the camera. He personally admits to struggling with interviews and has been working at it over the course of the past few years. One would think that with more podium finishes and more chances to shine in the spotlight, he will improve in that area.
Okrzesik is a humble, down-to-earth kid that just loves to race. He is also respected by his competitors, race officials and the media.
If he can work on getting better behind the camera and shed the reputation of being shy, he'll have the full package in this category.
Sponsor Appeal: C
Okrzesik’s shy and conservative personality affects him here as he looks to find sponsors. While his on-track prowess will put them in the spotlight, Okrzesik could use some work backing them up on camera and in victory lane.
We’d like to see Okrzesik continue to grow his on-camera personality in order to increase his sponsor appeal and his short track draft stock.
Social Media: B
Overall, Okrzesik is active on all major social media outlets. He’s particularly active on Twitter. While fans might see him as being shy at the race track, he seems very approachable on social media. In today's world, that's a good thing.
We’d like to see a little bit more of what’s going on behind the scenes. Not just at the track but what he’s doing in his everyday life. Who is Connor Okrzesik and what does he enjoy outside of racing?
Okrzesik will continue to compete in major Late Model races throughout the country. He will also look to make a few more ARCA Menards series starts, including the May 4 event at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.
-Story by Allick Jorgensen, Speed51.com Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com