Often imitated, but never duplicated, the Speed51.com Short Track Racing Power Poll ranks drivers from all across the land on their strength to this point in the season.
A panel of industry experts from all four corners of the country and Canada have voted on their choices for the first round of power rankings this season. Drivers in all forms of short track racing, including Late Models, Modifieds, ARCA, Dirt Late Models and Modifieds, NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and everything in between were eligible.
The rankings shown below were decided after polling our panel of experts in the industry. Rankings were based on overall number of votes, with more weight given to each vote the higher the vote. Example, a #1 vote would be more valuable than a #2, #3, etc.
Here are the results of the short track power rankings entering Florida Speedweeks:
#1 – Brandon Sheppard – Dirt Late Models – Nobody has won more races than Brandon Sheppard thus far during the 2020 racing season. B-Shepp began his winning ways in Arizona by scoring three victories during the Wild West Shootout at FK Rod Ends Arizona Speedway, leading him to the 2020 championship for that popular mini-series. Since returning to the east coast, Sheppard has continued his success by scoring a pair of Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series wins during the Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park. Overall, he has five wins to his name and we’re only a little over a month into the new season.
#2 – Kyle Larson – Dirt Midgets – Although Larson is classified as a NASCAR Cup Series driver, he recently scored a win in one of the most prestigious short track racing events in the country. After 13 years of trying, Larson finally broke through to win the Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Defeating a field of over 300 drivers, Larson ultimately prevailed over fellow Cup Series driver and two-time race winner Christopher Bell to score the elusive victory.
#3 – Derek Thorn – Super Late Models – Derek Thorn may have only competed in one race so far during the 2020 season, but his performance was enough for voters to put him near the top of the power rankings. The Bakersfield, California driver began the new season by unlocking $25,000 in cold, hard cash during the return of the All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway. Competing against many of the top Super Late Model drivers on the west coast, Thorn has a dominant car all weekend long; sweeping every practice session, setting fast time in qualifying and winning the race.
#4 – Tim McCreadie – Dirt Late Models – With a new car owner behind him in 2020, Tim McCreadie has already made a statement that he will be tough to beat on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series this season. T-Mac opened the year with a victory at Golden Isles Speedway (GA) and followed that up with another win during the Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park. The driver of car No. 39 has flexed his muscles early this season and displayed the type of power that grabs the attention of our voters.
#5 – Corey Heim – Super Late Models – Racing in his home state of Georgia, Corey Heim scored his first career Super Late Model win during CRA SpeedFest at Crisp Motorsports Park (GA). Paired with the Jett Motorsports team, Heim displayed speed throughout the weekend before topping Kyle Plott in a photo finish at the checkered flag. While it may be only one win, it’s a major victory that proves he will be a threat throughout the 2020 season.
#6 – Kyle Bronson – Dirt Late Models – Kyle Bronson was a dominant force during the inaugural DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park (FL). Bronson swept all three Pro Late Model races during the weekend, including the $10,000 finale on Saturday, and was relatively unchallenged throughout the event.
#7 – Preston Peltier – Super Late Models – Peltier’s began his season the right way by pocketing a $10,000 victory in the Chilly Willy 150 at Tucson Speedway (AZ). Peltier battled a strong field of over 30 Super Late Model racers on his way to capturing the win.
#8 – Stephen Nasse – Super Late Models – While his JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour victory at CRA SpeedFest was overshadowed by an incident with Bubba Pollard a few hours later, Nasse did enough throughout the weekend to show our voters that he’s going to be plenty powerful in 2020. After winning the Pro Late Model race at SpeedFest, Nasse battled from the rear of the field all the way to the front in the Super Late Model race before getting mixed up with Pollard while racing for the lead near the end of the race.
#9 – Andy Jankowiak – TQ Midgets – Known as one of the best personalities in all of short track racing, “Andy J” can also get it done on the race track. He has proven that already this year by winning the Gambler’s Classic for the Indoor Auto Racing Series in Atlantic City. In addition to his big victory, Jankowiak also battled for the victory at Allentown before a late incident took him out of contention.
#10 – Kyle Strickler – UMP Modifieds – Kyle Strickler has already made his presence known in the state of Florida this month. “The Highside Tickler” has three wins to his credit, including two at North Florida Speedway and a recent DIRTcar Nationals victory at Volusia Speedway Park. Can he capture the big gator at Volusia and climb the power rankings after Florida Speedweeks? That will be something to keep an eye on moving forward.
#11 – Brian Shirley – Dirt Late Models – With plans to compete full-time on the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series circuit in 2020, Shirley got his season off to a hot start with three victories during the Wild West Shootout at Arizona Speedway. “The Squirrel” also captured a $10,000 bonus for winning three races during the event.
#12 – Cannon McIntosh – Dirt Midgets – While Cannon McIntosh is the only driver on our list not to have won a race yet this season, he gave voters a reason to be optimistic. Competing on a big stage at the Chili Bowl Nationals, McIntosh recorded a third-place finish behind Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell. Now preparing for a full-time season with Keith Kunz Motorsports, McIntosh will be a driver to watch during the 2020 season.
#13 – Ross Bailes – Dirt Late Models – Known as one of the fiercest Dirt Late Model drivers from the Carolians, Bailes didn’t waste any time getting to victory lane. The former Carolina Clash champion scored his first win of the 2020 season during an Xtreme DIRTcar Series race at Cherokee Speedway, a track he’s enjoyed a lot of success at in the past.
#14 – Anthony Sergi – Super Late Models – Competing against many of Florida’s top Super Late Model racers, Sergi prevailed in a 50-lap battle at Citrus County Speedway. His performance during the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway will be a good indication of whether he rises or falls during the next version of these power rankings.
#15 – Sam Yarbrough – Late Model Stock Cars – The first Late Model Stock Car win of the new racing season went to Yarbrough. Piloting a Late Model with a new Five Star Gen6 body, Yarbrough captured the checkered flag in the Icebreaker at his home track of Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC).
#16 – Michael Atwell – Super Late Models – Atwell made noise by scoring a $10,000 victory in the first Super Late Model race of the year at Showtime Speedway (FL). Known primarily for his success within the Central Florida region, Atwell could be a candidate to break out of his comfort zone and make some noise in 2020.
#17 – Chris Madden – Dirt Late Models – Madden will go down as one of the first drivers to win a short track race during this calendar year. “Smoky” broke through early by winning the World of Outlaws Late Model Series season opener at Vado Speedway Park in New Mexico on January 3.
#18 – Gary Ledbetter, Jr. – Street Stocks – For the fifth time in his career, Ledbetter took home the cash and the trophy during the New Year’s Bash at Dillon Motor Speedway (SC). Recognized as one of the biggest Street Stock races in the country, Ledbetter has found unmatched success in recent years.
#19 – Cole Williams – Pro Late Models – It didn’t come without a little bit of controversy, but Cole Williams was able to begin February with a $5,000 Pro Late Model win at Irwindale Speedway (CA). After a lapped car impacted his battle for the lead with Jeremy Doss, Williams pulled away to score the win.
#20 – Ryan Flores – TQ Midgets – Normally, Ryan “Skip” Flores is busy changing tire changes on the NASCAR Cup Series circuit. However, during the winter he likes to do a little bit of racing of his own, and he’s pretty good at it. Flores makes our list of top 20 drivers after winning an Indoor Auto Racing Series race in Allentown, Pennsylvania.