Speed51.com’s panel of industry experts have made their picks and the checkered flag has waved on the 2016 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes. Throughout the last week, 51 has revealed the number-one pick in the draft, selections 2-10, selections 11-25, selections 26-51, as well as the “Best of the Rest.” But now it’s time to analyze the results of the draft, and the first questions we have to ask is: who didn’t make the cut?
The simple answer to that question is that a lot of drivers didn’t make the cut. 395 drivers were on this year’s ballot and only 120 of them – just over 30-percent – were included within the top-51 picks or the best of the rest.
Due to the fact that such a small percentage of drivers were selected, a long list of talented drivers did not make the cut this time around. This isn’t to say they weren’t worthy of it, but 51’s panel of industry experts weren’t quite ready to label them as being ready for the next level.
Among the driver’s not selected in this year’s draft was NASCAR K&N Pro Series East driver and ARCA/CRA Super Series winner Ali Kern. Dirt Late Model driver Brandon Overton was also left off the ballot, and with a few more wins in 2016 could certainly make the jump up next year.
Legends Cars standout turned Dirt Late Model driver Carson Ferguson was not selected one year after being tabbed as the 49th pick in the Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes. A few wins in anything would go a long way for Ferguson as he tries to get himself back into the discussion for the 2017 draft.
Another Carson, who has been highly praised by NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie Christopher Bell, failed to make the cut this time around despite success in the Sprint Car ranks. Carson Mecedo, a young dirt racer from California, will be a driver to keep an eye during the 2017 draft if he’s able to garner more attention through his on-track performance.
Cody Stickler, the 22-year-old Modified driver who dominated the Florida Modified division during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, did not make the cut despite 51’s Operations Manager Mark Keeler going out of the box and labeling him as a top-three pick. It’s hard to get your name known nationally while competing in a regional division, but if he can continue building on his Speedweeks dominance his stock is sure to go up.
Canadian racer Cole Tanner was left waiting for his name to be called in this year’s draft, even though he had a great year north of the border competing in Legends and Bandoleros. In addition to his success in small cars, Tanner also recorded finishes of third and fourth in two of his three Late Model Sportsman starts. More success in the full-bodied cars will go a long way with our panel next time around.
Legends Cars standout and Limited Late Model driver Dillon Spain, who has won races throughout the Carolinas missed the cut despite his on-track success in 2015. He may be one to keep an eye on for next year, especially if he does a little bit of travel and wins outside of his region.
HScott Motorsports was well represented in this year’s draft, but one driver missing from this year’s selections was Canadian Dominique Van Wieringen. She has shown that she can compete up front on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East circuit and a win or two could go a long way in increasing her stock for next year.
Despite winning his first career Pro All Stars Series (PASS) North Super Late Model race at Thompson (CT) in April, Maine’s Garrett Hall was unable to grab enough attention from the panel this year. He’s certainly a driver to keep an eye on moving forward as he attempts to become one of the Northeast’s young Late Model stars.
Recent ARCA Racing Series winner Gus Dean hadn’t done a whole lot on the race track leading up to his win at Talladega, but like they always say, “winning cures everything.” A few more wins would be the perfect recipe to help Dean’s stock rise next time around.
How about a driver with 24 wins during the 2015 season? That’s what 16-year-old Bandolero driver Jensen Jorgenson had on his Short Track Draft resume. Despite that, 51’s panel seemed to look over the talented young driver and his sister Taylor Jorgensen. It’s tough to imagine that both Jorgensen’s will be overlooked again if they’re able to continue winning races in 2016.
A popular driver hailing from the state of Connecticut, Joey Mucciacciaro, was also left off the ballot after a sub-par year in 2015. “Joey Mooch” has regrouped for the 2016 season and will be chasing wins on the CARS Tour with Lee Faulk Racing. Some solid runs and wins will certainly help his stock rise once again.
Leading up to the Indy Invitational at the end of the 2015 racing season, very few people had heard the name Kyle Schuett. By winning the race he created a lot of buzz for himself, but was unable to really follow it up well enough to wow our panel of experts. A few more big wins, or even strong runs in spotlight events, could certainly help the open-wheel racer moving forward.
Michael Torres, one of the Legends Cars standouts from the Summer Shootout at Charlotte (NC), was also left waiting for his name to be called despite multiple wins in 2015. With another year of experience under his belt, Torres could very well hear his name called in the 2017 draft.
It’s hard for the name Allison to be overlooked in the racing world, but that was the case in this year’s draft. Robbie Allison, the son of the late Davey Allison and grandson of legendary race Bobby Allison, was not selected despite recording his first stock car win in 2015. The third-generation driver will be moving into Late Models this season, and that should certainly help his stock rise if he’s able to perform well on the race track.
Stefan Parsons, the 17 year-old-old son of NASCAR commentator Phil Parsons, didn’t make the cut in this year’s draft after making a handful of CARS Tour Late Model Stock starts in 2015. The voters will be looking for more success from Parsons on the track in order to put them on their ballots for next year’s draft.
While Austin Barnes and Dylan Cappello represented the Lucas Oil Modified Series well in the 2016 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes, one of the series’ young stars was left off the list of selections. Taylor Minch, who finished fifth in the championship standings, has received a lot of praise from Speed51.com Executive Editor Bob Dillner but the rest of the panel seems to be waiting for Minch to break into victory lane.
If number of wins were the only factor used to determine the top picks in the Short Track Draft, Trey Gibson more than likely be selected with the top 20 picks. The Greenville Pickens Speedway (SC) standout won 13 races at the track in 2015, but 51’s panel of experts seem to be waiting for him to do more outside of his home track.
Many in the state of Maine believe that 16-year-old Wyatt Alexander may be the state’s next racing star. He made a lot of noise when he won the Bosshog 100 at Wiscasset Speedway (ME) but he still needs to win more in order to prove his worth at the next level. If he’s able to do that and maintain his excellent off-track demeanor, don’t be surprised if he makes the cut next time around.
Give all of these drivers listed above a year to build their stock and they could very well hear their name called in the 2017 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51