One of the greatest features of the Speed51.com Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes is that it features drivers from many disciplines of racing. It’s not limited to Late Model racers. It’s not limited to pavement racers. The Short Track Draft truly features the top Short Track Racing prospects regardless of what or where they race.
The 2016 version of the Short Track Draft included Late Model racers, Modified drivers, Dirt racers, Open-Wheel racers and Stock Car drivers.
As we continue our analysis of the 2016 Short Track Draft, we’re going to take a look at the best drivers from each discipline. On Wednesday, we took a look at the top Modified drivers. Today, we’re going to analyze the top drivers from the dirt racing ranks.
Drivers in the Dirt category qualified by competing in Dirt Modifieds, Dirt Midgets, Dirt Late Models, Sprint Cars or any open-wheeled race car that competes on dirt.
Keep in mind that not all Dirt racers are eligible for the Short Track Draft. Drivers must be under the age of 25 as of May 1, 2016. Additionally, if they lose their rookie status in any of NASCAR’s top-three series by the end of the 2016 season, or if they run more than 10 races in one of NASCAR’s top three series, they are no longer eligible.
#1 – Bobby Pierce (5th pick) – Dirt Late Models
Pierce garnered loads of attention following a gritty performance in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora last year. He’s made a few spot starts in the NCWTS since that race, but hasn’t turned heads with his performance on pavement. The good thing for Pierce is that he’s still winning in the Dirt Late Model ranks so he’ll continue to be a topic of conversation moving forward.
#2 – Max McLaughlin (10th pick) – Super DIRTcar Series
The son of “Magic Shoes” Mike McLaughlin is making a name for himself in the dirt ranks. He turned heads all season long in 2015 by churning out win after win in Outlaw Kart action at Millbridge Speedway (NC). The 16-year-old set fast time in just his third Big-Block Modified start during the World Finals at Charlotte (NC) and in the process proved he’s a quick learner. McLaughlin is certainly one of the top youngsters to keep an eye on in the dirt ranks moving forward.
#3 – Aaron Reutzel (18th pick) – Lucas Oil ASCS
Reutzel was a force to be reckoned with in Lucas Oil ASCS competition in 2015. The 25-year-old picked up seven wins on his way to winning the season championship. When a driver wins they get noticed and Reutzel proved that in this year’s Short Track Draft. The downside for Reutzel? 2016 is his final year of eligibility for the draft.
#4 – Erick Rudolph (19th pick) – Super DIRTcar Series
There’s no doubting Erick Rudolph’s ability to win races. He’s done it in a Tour-Type Modified on pavement, a Big-Block Modified on dirt, a TQ Midget indoors and everything in between. Currently, Rudolph’s focus is on the Super DIRTcar Series. He started his 2016 season with two big wins in the Indoor Auto Racing Series and followed it up with two top-five finishes in Big-Block Modified competition at the DIRTcar Nationals. If he can improve his performance on the ultra-tough Super DIRTcar Series this year, the 24-year-old could see his stock rise during his final year of draft eligibility in 2017.
#5 – Tanner Thorson (20th pick) – USAC Midgets/Outlaw Karts
Driving for powerhouse team Keith Kunz Motorsports, Thorson is one of the rising stars coming out of the Dirt Midget ranks. He’s following the same type of path that was previously taken by former number-one pick Christopher Bell and two-time Chili Bowl winner Rico Abreu. He’s yet to win as often as Bell or win “the big one” like Rico but he’s certainly on the cusp. Thorson is also enjoying much success in the Outlaw Kart ranks at Millbridge Speedway (NC) and is a favorite to win the big Speed51 Open next Wednesday.
#6 – Nick Hoffman (22nd pick) – Dirt Modifieds
Do you like backflips? If you do, you’ll like Nick Hoffman because he does a lot of them. Hoffman took the Dirt Modified world by storm during Georgia Florida Speedweeks by winning seven races. He won three of four races in Southeast Dirt Modified action at Golden Isles Speedway (GA) before winning four of seven races in DIRTcar UMP Modified action at Volusia Speedway Park (FL). When you win that much people don’t forget your name, and this year’s Short Track Draft panel certainly didn’t forget Hoffman’s name when it came time to vote.
#7 – Chase Briscoe (24th pick) – Dirt Midgets
Briscoe is a name that some race fans may have not heard a lot about, but one that they soon will. The 21-year-old has shown his ability to adapt by racing anything from a Dirt Midget on a tight indoor race track to racing a heavy Stock Car at Daytona (FL). Although he cut his teeth racing on dirt, he’s beginning to focus more on the pavement side with starts in the ARCA Racing Series. He finished fourth at Daytona, third at Talladega (FL) and won the pole at Nashville (TN). Briscoe will certainly be one to watch if he’s able to continue recording strong finishes in his ARCA starts.
#8 – Brandon Sheppard (28th pick) – Dirt Late Models
Competing in a world filled with tough veteran competitors, the 23-year-old has held his own in Dirt Late Model competition. “B-Shepp” has two career Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series wins and six career World of Outlaws Dirt Late Model Series wins. While the veterans like Bloomquist and Davenport may be getting a lot of the attention, Sheppard has established himself as one of the top “young guns” in the Dirt Late Model ranks.
#9 – Devin Moran (39th pick) – Dirt Late Models
Moran has the maturity and the talent behind the wheel to be a future racing star. Moran picked up a pair of wins during the 2015 Buckeye Late Model Dirt Week in addition to winning a handful of regional races last season. He’s started the 2016 season on a high note with wins throughout the Ohio region. Moran also gained respect from many when he displayed class following a win earlier this season at Atomic Speedway (OH) by dedicating the win to the late Charlie Floyd who passed away following a crash at the track.
#10 – Derrick Ramey (45th pick) – Dirt Modifieds
Derrick Ramey knows how to win races, but also how to be consistent to win a championship. He won the Renegades of Dirt championship in 2015 even though he didn’t run two of the races. He scored 22 top-10 finishes in 24 of his starts in 2015. This year it’s a lot of the same for Ramey. He’s committed to the Southeast Dirt Modified Series where he’s currently leading the points. He’s got one win under his belt, but nine top-10 finishes in nine starts. Ramey has also finished on the podium in his last five starts.