Sports has a way of producing moments that inspire, moments that seem like they’re fit for movies or storybooks, but instead are completely real and unscripted. Short track racing especially seems to have an ability to produce those moments. Today, Speed51.com honors those moments with the following two categories: Surprise Moment of 2017 and Best Feel-Good Moment.
Best Actor in a Drama
(Best Feel-Good Moment)
This year’s award belongs to Austin Theriault, who seems to be taking home all of the hardware from his stellar 2017 season. Theriault won the 2017 ARCA Racing Series championship for Ken Schrader.
But that championship in itself isn’t what fit the “feel-good moment” classification. Theriault has had a chance at one of NASCAR’s top three series in the past. It ended with a hard crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2015. The crash broke his back and also broke his HANS device. The crash also left Theriault wondering if he’d ever get another chance on a national stage.
That chance came thanks to Ken Schrader in the ARCA Racing Series. Theriault made the best of that chance by winning seven races in 2017 and scoring 19 top-10 finishes in 20 ARCA stars en route to the championship.
Theriault’s championship finished first in the voting just ahead of Christopher Bell’s first Chili Bowl triumph in 2017. Third-place in the voting goes to the crowd at New Hampshire Motor Speedway holding up a 13 in tribute to Ted Christopher who passed away just a couple of weeks earlier. Fourth-place went to Keith Rocco sweeping track titles across the state of Connecticut and honoring his friend, Ted Christopher. Rounding out the top five was Tyler Roahrig finally scoring the win in the Kalamazoo Klash, the one race that eluded him.
Past Best Feel-Good Moment Award Winners
2016 - Erik Jones Wins After Dad Passes
2015 - Rico Wins Chili Bowl
2014 - Brian Brown WoO
2013 - Rich Bickle Final Madison Win
2012 - Erik Jones Snowball Derby
2011 - Bubba Pollard - Slocumb Race
2010 - Johanna Long Snowball Derby
2009 - Jeff Fultz North South Shootout
2008 - No Vote
2007 - Blewett Wins at Thompson
2006 - No Vote
2005 - Dion's Busch North Win at Oxford
2004 - Five Flags Overcomes Hurricane Ivan
Best Surprise Performance
(Surprise Moment of the Year)
Our Canadian voters turned out for this category. The biggest surprise of 2017 belongs to the renovation and reopening of the Jukasa Motor Speedway in Hagersville, Ontario.
Jukasa was formerly known as Cayuga Speedway, which closed in 2009. The track was renovated recently and reopened with a big reopening event last fall that saw a completely packed grandstand.
Finishing second in the voting was Kyle Busch’s disqualification at the Dixieland 250. Busch was found to be too light in post-race tech, and that handed the win over to Casey Johnson. Third in the voting was the announcement of a 250-lap NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for this year. The race will be the longest NWMT race ever. Fourth in the voting was Cassius Clark’s team getting stuck at the Canada/US border en route to the Mason-Dixon MegaMeltdown at Hickory Motor Speedway last fall. Rounding out the top five was Curtis Gerry’s upset victory in the Oxford 250 last August.
Past Best Surprise Moment Award Winners
2016 - Eckes Wins Snowball Derby
2015 - Christopher Bell Snowball Derby DQ
2014 - ACT & PASS Work Together
2013 - Chase Elliott Snowball Derby DQ
2012 - 80 Cars for Howie Lettow Memorial at Milwaukee
2011 - Elliott No Tires Wins SpeedFest
2010 - Corey LaJoie Wins at Atlanta WSMT
2009 - Kelly Moore & Cody Brodwell Out of Track
2008 - No Vote
2007 - Kimmel Split with Team
2006 - No Vote
2005 - No Vote
2004 - Steve Wallace Wins Derby