A setback is a platform for a comeback.  In the ultra-competitive sport of racing, we often see talented race car drivers have setbacks during a racing season.  But like in life, a setback simply paves the way for a comeback on the race track.


Today, Speed51.com is recognizing the comebacks and improvements made in short track racing during the 2017 season by announcing the winners of the following Speed51 Awards: Most Improved Driver and Comeback Driver of the Year.


Achievement Award

(Comeback Driver of the Year)

Tim McCreadie has always been a winner on the race track, so it was a surprise when he went winless in Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and World of Outlaws Dirt Late Model competition in 2016.  In 2017, “T-Mac” bounced back in a big way by breaking a 73-race winless drought and scoring five series victories while contending for the overall championship.


In addition to his success in Late Models, McCreadie also scored his first Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified victory since 2004 when he won Brett Hearn’s Big Show 9 at Albany-Saratoga Speedway.


Finishing second in the voting was 2017 ARCA Racing Series champion Austin Theriault, who enjoyed a career-best season one year after not having a full-time ride in any series.  Another ARCA racer, Natalie Decker, finished third in the voting with Super Late Model racers Jeff Choquette and Preston Peltier completing the top five.


Former Comeback Driver of the Year Award Winners

2016 – Jimmy Blewett

2015 – Chris Eggleston

2014 – Casey Roderick

2013 – Matt Hirschman

2012 – Johnny VanDoorn

2011 – Boris Jurkovic

2010 – Chase Elliott

2009 – Steve Park

2008 – No Vote

2007 – Bobby Gill

2006 – No Vote

2005 – Eric Beers

2004 – Gary St. Amant


Most Improved Actor

(Most Improved Driver)

Short track racers are always trying to improve the performance behind the wheel of a race car.  Every thousandth of a second matters and can be the difference when the checkered flag waves.  According to race fans, no driver improved more during the 2017 season than Late Model Stock Car driver Justin Carroll.


Carroll turned heads when he scored his first career CARS Tour victory in the Throwback 276 event at the legendary Hickory Motor Speedway (NC).  In addition to his CARS Tour win, Carroll also picked up a trio of victories in local Late Model competition at Hickory.


Overall, Carroll’s performance in 2017 was head and shoulders better than it was during the 2016 season.


The driver finishing second in voting also greatly improved on her performance from the season prior.  Brittney Zamora of Kennewick, WA visited victory lane twice on her way to winning her first career Northwest Super Late Model Series championship.


Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series driver Tommy Catalano, JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour driver Jack Dossey III and 2017 Oxford 250 winner Curtis Gerry completed the top five.


Former Most Improved Driver Award Winners

2016 – Bobby Pierce

2015 – Woody Pitkat

2014 – J.R. Bertuccio

2013 – Ben Kennedy

2012 – John Hunter Nemechek

2011 – Kenzie Ruston

2010 – Ryan Blaney

2009 – Ryan Preece

2008 – No Vote

2007 – Corey Williams

2006 – No Vote

2005 – Cassius Clark

2004 – Donny Lia


-Featured photo credit: Speed51.com

The 51’s: Most Improved and Comeback Driver of the Year