Preparations for the 2017 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes on Speed51.com are underway. The ballot was recently revealed and will soon be sent out to a panel of industry experts to determine the top 51 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 begin our round of scouting reports today with a look at Kyle Benjamin, a recent NASCAR K&N Pro Series East winner at Greenville Pickens Speedway (SC). Although Benjamin has four NASCAR XFINITY Series starts scheduled for 2017, he remains eligible for the draft because he will maintain his rookie status.
Current Level: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Hometown: Easley, South Carolina
Last Year’s Draft: 7th
Highest Pick: 1st (2013)
Anticipated 2017 Pick: 5th to 10th
The Skinny: Benjamin has been a frequent visitor to the Short Track Draft since 2011. During that season, he made the “Best of the Rest” before being picked sixth in 2012. One year later, Benjamin found himself being the first name called on draft day. Since then, he’s been picked fifth, seventh and seventh during the last three drafts.
Rising, Falling or Holding Steady: Holding Steady
Each year around this time, Benjamin seems to sneak his way into the conversation of being a top 10 pick. Despite only being 20 years old, he’s been around the short track ranks for what seems like forever. While his resume includes ARCA, K&N East and big Super Late Model wins, he doesn’t race enough to stay in the conversation year round. A more consistent schedule would certainly help his stock moving forward.
On-Track Accomplishments: A
Like we said previously, his on-track success ranks right up there with the best of them. He has two career ARCA wins, five NASCAR K&N Pro Series East victories, one ARCA/CRA Super Series win, one Southern Super Series triumph and a World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing Super Late Model championship on his resume.
Benjamin doesn’t have a bad personality, but he isn’t overly joyful like a few others in the draft. A few more smiles and a more outgoing personality would certainly help the 20 year old.
Sponsor Appeal: B
When sponsors look at a driver, they look for a few things including on-track performance, personality, looks and how a driver acts away from the race track. Benjamin’s resume speaks for itself, while his personality could use some improvement. He’s a tall, young 20-year-old who seems to behave well and not get into trouble away from the race track. With all of that considered, we’ll give him a solid B in this category.
Social Media: A-
Benjamin passed our first test by having accounts on all three of the major social media outlets – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. He also earned points by being active on all of these outlets. His Instagram page gives fans a behind-the-scenes look at his life both on and off the race track. A little bit more creativity and uniqueness would improve his grade.
Benjamin recently signed a four-race deal to race for Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. This will be his first shot at the big time, and his first shot to show a national audience his skills behind the wheel.