Picking the winners of big short track races throughout the country is a tradition that our staff at Speed51.com enjoys.  With one of the richest Super Late Model races in the country taking place this weekend, our staff has been challenged once again.


This week we asked members of our Speed51.com team, “Who are you picking to win the 4th Annual Winter Showdown at Kern County Raceway?”


The answers we received varied, but when all the votes were tallied it was defending winner Derek Thorn and 2017 Summer Showdown winner Preston Peltier being named the favorites to win $30,000.  Overall, eight different drivers received votes from our panel of 14 experts, showing just how strong this year’s field is.


Race fans can watch all 300 laps of the 4th Annual Winter Showdown on the Speed51 Network.  This year’s broadcast is FREE to watch for Speed51 Network premium subscribers thanks to support from our friends at PFC Brakes.  Click here to subscribe to the Speed51 Network today.


Check out our full list of staff picks for the 4th Annual Winter Showdown below.


Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Regional Editor (Central NY & PA)

Pick: Daniel Hemric

It’s difficult to go against Derek Thorn after his dominant performance a year ago, but a combination of the west coast based Wilson Motorsports, VanDoorn Development, and driver Daniel Hemric could equate to victory come Saturday afternoon.  The team has demonstrated success with teenager Buddy Shepherd and champion racer John VanDoorn behind the wheel, and a year ago fellow NASCAR driver Erik Jones finished in the top five at the Winter Showdown.  Hemric may have gone an entire year without stepping into a Super Late Model, but do not count him out by any means.


Allick Jorgensen, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent

Pick: Preston Peltier
He took the Summer Showdown at Evergreen Speedway last year in dominating style and nearly won the Chilly Willy 150 already this season. Peltier will show up in Southern California ready to compete this weekend.


Bob Dillner, Speed51.com Executive Editor

Pick: Buddy Shepherd

Earlier this year, our staff at Speed51.com labeled Shepherd as one of the top 10 sleepers to watch for during the 2018 racing season.  I’m going to stick with that theme and pick him as a sleeper to win the Winter Showdown this weekend. 


Although he doesn’t race full-time, he’s proven that he is a threat to win in all of his starts for Wilson Motorsports. In 2017, Shepherd scored his first career SRL victory at Madera Speedway (CA) and recorded top-five finishes in all three of his starts.  He has the talent and the team to have a chance at winning the $30,000 check on Saturday. 


300x250 SRL Winter Showdown PPV-02Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor

Pick: Derek Thorn

Why aren’t more people picking Derek Thorn?  Do they know something that I don’t know?  Those are the thoughts that ran through my mind as I received picks from our Speed51.com team members this week.


Here’s what we do know: Thorn is the defending winner, has never started worse than first in the race, and led every single lap of last year’s race.  For those reasons, I’m picking him to score another $30,000 check at this home track.


Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Editor

Pick: Preston Peltier 

Momentum is still on the side of the No. 48 team following all the success in 2017. After being just edged out one week ago by Chris Eggleston for the Chilly Willy 150 win at Tucson, expect Peltier to enter this weekend with even stronger inner-fire than usual.


Dakota Geyer, Speed51.com Midwest Correspondent

Pick: Daniel Hemric

The NASCAR XFINITY Series regular is coming off a season where he was in the Championship 4 at Homestead. Though he hasn’t made a Late Model start since the 2016 Snowball Derby, he’s had success in long-distance races and has a potent ride with Wilson Motorsports. Expect him to be a contender all race Saturday afternoon. 


Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent

Pick: Jeremy Doss

Doss enters this year’s Winter Showdown looking for the biggest win of his career.  He had a strong showing at the Snowball Derby to end the 2017 season and will look to continue the momentum with his new Senneker race car in 2018. 


Jeff Fischer, Speed51.com Cameraman 

Pick: Ty Majeski

Majeski continues to be one of the most dominant Super Late Model racers in the country.  After a subpar run at the Snowball Derby to end 2017, I expect Majeski to come out hungry in his first major Super Late Model race of 2018. 


Jeremy Anders, Speed51.com West Coast Correspondent

Pick: Preston Peltier

Who will I take my Showdown Selfie with this year? Only one driver has won back to back in the Winter Showdown and Summer Showdown and that is Bubba Pollard. I think it will be done again this weekend and Preston Peltier will continue his West Coast strength. Don’t count out local young gun Buddy Shepherd as this might be his year to shine in the Showdown.


Kevin Peters, Speed51.com West Coast Correspondent 

Pick: Derek Thorn

I would have to say that Derek Thorn would be my pick to repeat his Winter Showdown victory from 2017. He has a new car car and the home track knowledge to pick up his second Showdown win.


Patrick Hahe, Speed51.com Regional Editor (IN, MI & OH)

Pick: Derek Kraus

Kern County Raceway Park was friendly to the young driver from Wisconsin. In the 2017 NASCAR K&N West Series finale, Kraus notched his first series win at the track. The earlier start that year? Second. The kid proved he knows how to get around the high-banked oval, and I definitely think that will translate from K&N to Super Late Models.


Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor

Pick: Derek Thorn

Typically I try to not pick favorites, but no more… How do you bet against Thorn? It’s his home track, he dominated this race last year, and he just had a baby so all good things for Thorn. He’ll win it again this year.


Ryan McCollough, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent

Pick: Kyle Busch

Last week, I picked the young underdog and scored the win at SpeedFest. This weekend, I am going in the complete opposite direction. My pick isn’t looking for a breakthrough win to launch his career. He isn’t in search of victory to propel him to a big year on the west coast. He just wants a trophy, and more often than not, Rowdy Busch gets what he wants.


-Text by Speed51.com Staff

-Photo credit: Speed51.com

Speed51.com Staff Makes Their Picks for Winter Showdown