In this edition of 51’s Top 10, we’re taking a look at the 10 best young drivers in the 2017 Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes on Speed51.com. Now, when we say “young drivers” we of course have to be very specific since every driver on the draft ballot is technically “young” by being under 25. This list is for the really young drivers. The drivers that can’t even have a learner’s permit to drive on the street yet. This list is a list of the 10 best draft eligible drivers under the age of 15 years old.
#1 - Raphael Lessard – 15 – Super Late Models
The Canadian turned many heads in 2016 when he won the CARS Tour Super Late Model championship. In addition to winning the championship he also scored four wins and nine top-10 finishes in 10 starts. He turned enough heads to go straight into the top 10 of the 2017 draft, getting picked in the seventh spot this year.
#2 - Derek Kraus – 15 – Super Late Models/NASCAR K&N Pro Series
Even though Kraus is just 15 years old, it already seems like he’s a veteran because he’s been racing so long. He’s already made two Snowball Derby starts, has won an ARCA Midwest Tour race, and now is taking on stock cars in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. Kraus has been on the radar screens of many for a while now and as a result he was selected 17th overall in this year’s draft.
#3 - Chandler Smith – 14 – Super Late Models
Chandler Smith hasn’t picked up the wins in Supers the way Lessard has, but Smith is still learning the ropes and has run well. He’s consistently running in or near the top 10, even in races with deeply talented fields. Even without the wins, Smith’s consistent ways were enough to get him picked at the 29th spot.
#4 - Carson Kvapil – 13 – Limited Late Models/Outlaw Karts
Picked at the 45th position, Kvapil might be one of the youngest drivers in the top 51. Kvapil made Millbridge Speedway (NC) his personal playground in 2016, picking up 20 wins in the Intermediate division of Outlaw Kart competition at the 1/5-mile clay oval. In 2017 he’s beginning to dabble in asphalt racing and has already won in a Limited Late Model at Greenville Pickens
#5 - Carson Hocevar – 14 – Pro Late Models
Carson Hocevar made headlines in 2016 by becoming the youngest winner in a Late Model race at Michigan’s tough Berlin Raceway. Unfortunately for Hocevar, the win resulted in him being banned from Berlin Raceway for the rest of the year by NASCAR for being too young. Since then, Hocevar has started travelling to races with the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour and has been fast everywhere he’s gone. Hocevar was drafted 49th in this year’s draft.
#6 - Connor Okrzesik – 15 - Super Late Models
The 15 year old qualified for his first Snowball Derby in 2016, and had an impressive run as well. Okrzesik raced his way to 13th after starting deep in the field in the 33rd position. Unfortunately, that wasn't enough for Okrzesik to make the top 51 as he found himself on the “Missed the Cut” list this year.
#7 - Leland Honeyman – 12 – Bandoleros
This driver is still a few years away from being on the voter’s radar screens, but he’ll be there soon enough. Honeyman is still racing Bandoleros and dominating the scene. So far in 2017 Honeyman is already up to nine wins. In 16 races in 2017, Honeyman has just one finish off of the podium.
#8 - Dawson Cram – 15 – Super Late Models/Bandoleros
Similar to Honeyman, Cram made his name as a young teenager in Bandoleros, winning 13 times in the Bandits division as well as the Summer Shootout championship in the division. Cram recently made his first Super Late Model start at the Easter Bunny 150. He finished 26th due to a crash.
#9 - Ryan Millington – 15 - Late Model Stock Cars
For the last few years at Hickory Motor Speedway, the dominator has been Josh Berry. That hasn’t been the case this year. It’s been 15-year-old Ryan Millington. The young gun has picked up five wins already and is leading the points standings. He's also making a few Super and Pro Late Model starts as well.
#10 - Giovanni Bromante – 13 - Pro Late Models
The young Long Islander has moved on from Legends cars and go karts and is now trying his hand at Pro Late Model racing. While the success hasn’t come as fast as it has every other discipline of racing the youngster has tried, he’s still only 13 years old and has plenty of time to learn.