One of the greatest features of the Speed51.com Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes is that it features drivers from many disciplines of racing. It’s not limited to Late Model racers. It’s not limited to pavement racers. The Short Track Draft truly features the top short track racing prospects regardless of what or where they race.
The 2018 version of the Short Track Draft included Late Model racers, Modified drivers, Dirt racers, Open-Wheel racers and Stock Car drivers.
As we begin our analysis of the 2018 Short Track Draft, we’re going to look at the best drivers from each discipline. Today, we’re going to analyze the top drivers that compete in asphalt Late Models throughout North America.
Drivers in the Late Model category qualified by racing Super Late Models, Pro Late Models, Late Model Stock Cars, Outlaw Late Models, and Limited Late Models.
Keep in mind that not all Late Model racers are eligible for the Short Track Draft. Drivers must be under the age of 25 as of April 1, 2018. Additionally, if they lose their rookie status in any of NASCAR’s top-three series by the end of the 2018 season, or if they run more than 10 races in one of NASCAR’s top three series, they are no longer eligible.
Additionally, if drivers compete in Late Models but have a consistent ride in a series like NASCAR K&N Pro Series East or ARCA, they will not appear in this category; they will appear in our list of top 10 stock car drivers.
#1 – Casey Roderick (Pick #3) – Pro/Super Late Models
Following an 18-win season in 2017, Roderick was voted as the top Late Model prospect in North America. At the age of 25, the Georgia driver is in his final year of eligibility for the Short Track Draft but that hasn’t stopped him from winning. He’s now a two-time defending winner of the North/South Super Late Model Challenge at Nashville (TN) and a favorite at nearly every Pro Late Model race he attends.
#2 – Chandler Smith (Pick #4) – Super Late Models
Smith was one of the biggest movers in the 2018 Short Track Draft. Although he does have a handful of ARCA Racing Series starts planned, he will continue to spend most of his races behind the wheel of a Super Late Model. Smith scored his first SLM win earlier this year during CRA SpeedFest at Watermelon Capital Speedway in his homestate of Georgia.
#3 – Jeremy Doss (Pick #10) – Super Late Models
Doss was voted as the third best Late Model prospect and the top prospect hailing from the West Coast. Following a strong finish to the 2017 season, the California native already has two SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series wins to his credit in 2018. He also proved he can compete with the best of the best by qualifying fifth and finishing 13th in the 50th Annual Snowball Derby.
#4 – Derek Griffith (Pick #12) – Super Late Models
Griffith was voted the top prospect among those who compete in the Northeast on a regular basis. The Hudson, NH driver has become a star both on and off the race track. Griffith is known as one of the most personable drivers in the entire country, and he also knows how to get it done on the race track. He has a PASS South victory at Dillon Motor Speedway (SC) and a PASS North victory at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT) to his credit already in 2018.
#5 – Raphael Lessard (Pick #14) – Super Late Models
Lessard fell slightly in this year’s Short Track Draft, but he’s still considered a top-five prospect among those competing in Late Models. After winning four races and the CARS Tour Super Late Model championship in 2016, Lessard scored just one victory at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) in 2017. Since that win, he has now been held winless for over a year. He’s been fast, but the wins just haven’t been there for the Quebec native.
#6 – Stephen Nasse (Pick #19) – Super Late Models
Despite falling three spots in the Short Track Draft, Nasse is once again rated as the sixth best prospect in Late Model racing. The Pinellas Park, FL native who now calls North Carolina home is coming off a championships season with the Southern Super Series in 2017. Nasse scored a CARS Tour win at South Boston Speedway (VA) last year and followed that up with a Super Late Model win at New Smyrna Speedway during Florida Speedweeks.
#7 – Matt Craig (Pick #21) – Super Late Models
Craig jumps up one spot in this year’s list of top 10 Late Model prospects after being named the eighth best prospect in 2017. The Kannapolis, NC driver had a stellar season in 2017 with six PASS South and two CARS Tour Super Late Model wins. He also became the first drive to win consecutive PASS South championships.
#8 – Carson Hocevar (Pick #25) – Pro/Super Late Models
Hocevar’s championship-caliber season was derailed by a 10th-place finish in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour finale at Winchester Speedway (IN) last season, but you can’t ignore his three victories along the way. The Michigan driver is now taking the step up to Super Late Model racing. So far, he has not finished outside the top 10 in any of his four ARCA/CRA Super Series starts.
#9 – Brandon Setzer (Pick #26) – Super Late Models
For the second straight year, Setzer has been named a top 10 Late Model prospect. Setzer has race-winning speed and is a contender at nearly every Super Late Model race he enters. He scored two CARS Tour Super Late Model wins and a $10,000 PASS MegaMeltdown victory at Hickory (NC) in 2017.
#10 – Trevor Huddleston (Pick #27) – Super Late Models
Huddleston cracks the list of top 10 Late Model prospects for the first time in his racing career. The California racer is coming off a 2017 season that included 22 Late Model wins and a runner-up finish in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship standings. For the 2018 season, Huddleston will be competing in select NASCAR K&N Pro Series West events, as well as Super Late Model events on the West Coast