Editor’s Note: The Speed51 Short Track Draft ranks the top prospects in short track rankings in the eyes of more than 100 industry experts who take part in the voting process. The following Top 10 ranking includes the opinions of Speed51 Correspondent Koty Geyer, and in no way reflects potential voting results or the ultimate outcome in the 2020 Short Track Draft.
As we continue our countdown to the 2020 Speed51 Short Track Draft, we take a look at the Top 10 prospects that hail from the Midwest. This group of racers covers a wide spectrum of motorsports, from dirt to asphalt, open-wheels to Late Models, with drivers who either are from the Midwest or spend the majority of their racing season competing in the Midwest.
Keep in mind that not all racers are eligible for the Short Track Draft. Drivers must be under the age of 25 as of April 1, 2020. Additionally, if they lose their rookie status in any of NASCAR’s top-three series by the end of the 2020 season, or if a driver plans to compete in more than seven races in any of NASCAR's top-three touring series during the 2020 season, they are also ineligible for the Short Track Draft.
Here are the Top 10 Midwest prospects for this year’s Short Track Draft.
#1) Sam Mayer (ARCA) – Mayer won four races on his way to the ARCA Menards Series East title one year ago, and he’s already scored wins in both the East and West series’ this year. All these accolades aren’t just good enough for him to be named the top prospect out of the Midwest, it may also be good enough for him to be named the number one overall pick in the Speed51 Short Track Draft come the end of April.
#2) Bobby Pierce (Dirt LM) – Last year’s number two overall pick scored another 18 wins in 2019 after what some considered to be an “off year” in 2018 (which still saw him score wins in the Jackson 100, Pittsburgher, and Gateway Dirt Nationals). The “Smooth Operator” can score a fourth consecutive top five pick in the Short Track Draft, with the number one overall pick not out of the question.
#3) Tyler Courtney (USAC) – If 15 wins and a USAC National Sprint Car championship in 2018 wasn’t good enough, “Sunshine” topped it in 2019 with 21 wins across all three USAC National series and New Zealand with a USAC Midget title and Sprint Car runner-up to go along with it. With a Clauson-Marshall Racing Indy Lights ride potentially available for August’s Freedom 100, could we see Courtney follow Bryan Clauson and Chris Windom into a start at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway?
#4) Carson Kvapil (Asphalt SLM, Outlaw Karts) –After winning in his series debut at Golden Sands Speedway in 2018, Kvapil ran the full ARCA Midwest Tour schedule last season for Brad Mannstedt, finishing fifth in the final standings with three top-fives. He had a diverse schedule in 2019, also making starts with PRA, CARS, and the Southern Super Series all while winning another Millbridge Speedway Open Outlaw Kart track championship.
#5) Hudson O’Neal (Dirt LM) – O’Neal scored the biggest win of his career last September at his home track when he won the Jackson 100 at Brownstown Speedway, one of four Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series wins in 2019. “The New Deal” is tackling the 2020 season in the MasterSbilt House Car, a team his father Don drove for from 2009-2013.
#6) Zeb Wise (Midgets, Sprint Cars) – The Angola, Indiana driver won three USAC National Midget races in 2019, which included the BC 39 for the namesake’s team Clauson-Marshall Racing. Wise made his Winged Sprint Car debut one year ago and will chase after the All-Star Circuit of Champions title in 2020 while adding a partial USAC Midget schedule for powerhouse team Keith Kunz Motorsports.
#7) Jack Dossey III (Asphalt SLM) – Dossey made the move up to the ARCA/CRA Super Series in 2019 after winning two straight JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour titles, and it immediately paid off with his first Super Late Model win at Anderson Speedway in the opener. He would be crowned the series Rookie of the Year after finishing fourth in points, on the heels of his win and four top-fives.
#8) Gabe Sommers (Asphalt SLM) – The Wisconsin driver scored Rookie of the Year honors in the ARCA Midwest Tour off a win at State Park Speedway and a fourth-place points result, while also scoring two wins and a runner-up points effort in the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series. 2020 could be a breakout year for Sommers that sees his draft stock soar for the 2021 Short Track Draft.
#9) CJ Leary (USAC) – Leary joined the new-formed Reinbold/Underwood Racing team last season, and all he did was win the USAC National Sprint Car championship with two wins and 24 top-fives while finishing outside the top ten just twice all year. After cracking the top-51 for the first time last year, the 2020 version of the Short Track Draft could see him soar in the draft picks.
#10) Sammy Smith (Asphalt LM, LMSC) – Smith started 2019 by winning the World Series of Asphalt Pro Late Model championship, and ended it with a third-place run in the Snowflake 100. He also made six starts in the CARS Late Model Stock Tour, finishing in the top-five in all but one race. The Iowa native is another driver who could see his stock soar in 2020 as he campaigns in the Super Late Model ranks for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3