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.
As we continue our analysis of the 2016 Short Track Draft, we’re going to take a look at the best drivers from each discipline. Last week, we took a look at the top drivers hailing from the dirt and Modified ranks. Today, we’re going to analyze the top drivers that compete in 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 May 1, 2016. Additionally, if they lose their rookie status in any of NASCAR’s top-three series by the end of the 2016 season, or if they run more than 10 races in one of NASCAR’s top three series, they are no longer eligible.
#1 – Ty Majeski (#1 pick) – Super Late Models
A total of nearly 20 wins during the 2015 season and a hot start to the 2016 season earned the Wisconsin racer the number-one overall pick in the 2016 Short Track Draft. Majeski won nearly everywhere he went over the last 12 months with wins in Wisconsin, Florida, Alabama and beyond. He recently signed a driver development deal with Roush Fenway Racing and will be able to test his skills in “big cars” when he makes his ARCA Racing Series debut later this season.
#2 – Zane Smith (#3 Pick) – Super Late Models/Pro Late Models
Smith put his name on the map in 2015 when we won the overall Super Late Model championship at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway (FL). He proved that was no fluke throughout the season by recording three PASS South wins and a CARS Super Late Model Tour win. Smith also finished in second at the prestigious Snowball Derby against the toughest field of Late Model competitors anywhere.
#3 – Dalton Sargeant (6th pick) – Super Late Models
Sargeant saw his stock drop just a little bit in the 2016 Short Track Draft as he didn’t find victory lane in his rookie season on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East circuit. He had another strong top-five finish at the Snowball Derby to keep him in the conversation and will look to build on that in 2016 while competing in more Super Late Model races with Bond Suss Racing.
#4 – Chad Finchum(12th pick) – Late Model Stock Cars
He may have made his biggest splash with a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win at Bristol right before the draft, but Finchum’s primary ride is a Late Model Stock Cars. He recently won Late Model races at tough tracks like Motor Mile (VA) and Kingsport (TN) to help increase his stock. He’ll look to continue winning in Late Models in 2016 while also maximizing his opportunities in the “big cars.”
#5 – Josh Berry (13th pick) – Late Model Stock Cars
What is the best way to help your stock in the Short Track Draft? Win races. That’s exactly what Josh Berry did in 2015. He scored three victories on the CARS Late Model Stock Tour, four wins at his home track of Hickory Motor Speedway (NC) and two wins at Motor Mile Speedway (VA). Berry also turned heads in his single NASCAR XFINITY Series start for JR Motorsports at Richmond. Although this is his last year of eligibility in the Short Track Draft, he’s still a driver to keep an eye on moving forward.
#6 – Jeremy Doss (14th pick) – Super Late Models
Doss is considered to be one of the strongest Late Model competitors hailing from the West Coast. The 19-year-old scored four Pacific Challenge Series wins and four SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series victories in 2015. Doss’ on-track performance competing against the best drivers in his region certainly turned head in this year’s draft.
#7 – Travis Braden (15th pick) – Super Late Models/Pro Late Models
Braden took a step back from Late Model racing in 2015 but still showed speed in his limited starts. The West Virginia University graduate also impressed this year’s panel of voters with his performance in limited ARCA Racing Series starts. He went to victory lane in his first career ARCA start at Lucas Oil Raceway (IN) and followed that up with a runner-up finish at Kentucky Speedway. At the age of 22, Braden still has three more years of eligibility in the Short Track Draft.
#8 – Parker Stephens (17th pick) – Super Late Models
Stephens is a driver that many racing experts on the West Coast have their eye on moving forward. During his rookie season of Super Late Model competition in 2015, Stephens scored two big wins including an $11,000 win at Kern County Raceway Park (CA). As the calendar turned over to the year 2016, Stephens didn’t slow down. With a national audience watching on Speed51.com, Stephens finished a strong second to Late Model veteran Bubba Pollard. If you’re looking for a driver with the chance to increase his stock even more moving forward, the 18 year old from Olympia, Washington might be your guy.
#9 – Brandon Setzer (21st pick) – Super Late Models
Setzer, the son of well-known NASCAR racer Dennis Sezter, made a splash on the Late Model racing season in 2015 by recording wins in PASS South and CARS Tour competition. He already has a PASS South win to his credit in 2016 and plans to branch out even more to chase Super Late Model wins throughout the Southeast. Every time Setzer races he seems to have a chance to win, so a few more starts (and wins) would help us stock rise even more moving forward.
#10 – Cole Anderson (25th pick) – Super Late Models/Pro Late Models
Prior to the start of the 2016 racing season, very few Short Track Racing enthusiasts had heard the name Cole Anderson. That quickly changed during the month of January when he picked up back-to-back wins at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) in the Red-Eye 100 and Orange Blossom 100. The 18-year-old from Minnesota rebounded from a tough Florida Speedweeks by recording a Pro Late Model win during one of the final nights of competition. Moving forward, the biggest thing for Anderson will be proving that he can win away from New Smyrna Beach, Florida.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor – Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com/Heath Lawson