As preparations for the 2018 Speed51.com Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes continue, we’re going to be taking a look back at a number of the most memorable drafts. Today, we rewind back to the 2011 Short Track Draft, a draft that featured some of NASCAR's most prominent stars.
The top 10 of the 2011 Short Track Draft could be mistaken for an entry list for this weekend's NASCAR events at Richmond Raceway. Darrell Wallace, Jr. (2nd pick), Ryan Blaney (3rd pick) and Daniel Hemric (6th pick) were all top 10 selections who will be racing in the top levels of NASCAR at Richmond.
All three drivers were stars on the rise in 2011. Wallace was winning in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East while Blaney was still competing in Super Late Models for the most part. The two friends were like two peas in a pod in 2011 and remain the same way today.
Mixed in with those two drivers were future Southern Super Series champions Stephen Nasse and Bubba Pollard. Both have won races in the short track world and have been worthy of their draft selections from that season. Seven years later, Nasse is still eligible for the draft and is expected to once again be a top 20 pick.
Just outside of the top five was Daniel Hemric, who was turning heads in his first few Pro Late Model and Super Late Model events. Behind Hemric was future ARCA champion Grant Enfinger, 2010 UARA champion Coleman Pressley, future NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Brennan Poole and 2010 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Bobby Santos, III.
Lost in all of the hoopla surrounding the 2011 Short Track Draft is the number-one overall pick from that year's draft, Ross Kenseth.
The son of NASCAR champion Matt Kenseth, Ross was a winner and champion all around the Super Late Model world. He won the All American 400 and the Winchester 400 in the same season. He also won an ARCA race at Michigan and made a limited number of starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He had the talent, but things didn’t lineup for him to stay at the top. Still, he is considered a very strong short track racer, and perhaps he’ll make a return in the coming years.
Biggest Bust: Max Gresham at number 15 would have been considered a bust if you look at the end results. Gresham won a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East title and he won on the ARCA circuit. He ran a bunch of truck races and then ran out of steam before stepping away. Gresham now operates a hunting and sportsman destination in Georgia. A talented driver, but on paper we expected to see more of him.
Biggest Steal: Erik Jones would be the smart money in the 12th spot, as we had no idea of the potential at the time. His infamous Snowball Derby runs and success in NASCAR's top series was years away. Although we saw talent, we didn’t think he would be what he is today. Ironically, Kyle Larson was undrafted in 2011, which would also be considered a huge steal as a free agent.
Next Level: Darrell Wallace Jr. (Cup), Ryan Blaney (Cup), Daniel Hemric (Xfinity), Brennan Poole (Xfinity), Erik Jones (Cup), Corey LaJoie (Cup), Brett Moffitt (Trucks), Matt DiBenedetto (Cup), Chris Buescher (Cup), and Alex Bowman (Cup) were all drafted in 2011 prior to getting their shot at the next level.
2011 Short Track Draft Results
|2||Darrell Wallace Jr.|
|10||Bobby Santos III|
|18||Joey Polewarczyk Jr.|
|22||George Brunnhoelzl III|
-Text by Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent - Twitter: @ElginTraylor
-Photo credit: Pro All Stars Series