On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will play for the National Football League championship in Super Bowl LV. The two teams are led by a pair of marquee quarterbacks, Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady.
Mahomes is a rising star in the NFL with one Super Bowl triumph already to his credit, while Tom Brady enters Sunday’s game as the gold standard for quarterback play, a six-time Super Bowl champion and four-time Super Bowl MVP.
What are some similar matchups between established veterans and rising stars in short track racing? Here are some of the “Brady vs. Mahomes” pairings in today’s short track world.
Donny Schatz vs. Brad Sweet
The list of World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champions is an exclusive one. Over 43 seasons in the Sprint Car series, there are just 10 champions. 30 of those 43 championships are absorbed by two men, Steve Kinser (20) and Donny Schatz (10).
However, Brad Sweet has unseated Donny Schatz on the World of Outlaws pedestal in the past two years. Sweet outdueled Schatz for his first championship in 2019, then backed it up in 2020 after a title fight with both Schatz and Logan Schuchart.
Much like Brady, Schatz is still a championship threat every season. However, Sweet has established himself as Schatz’s greatest threat to Sprint Car supremacy.
Doug Coby vs. Justin Bonsignore
Doug Coby is a six-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion, including a stretch of four consecutive titles between 2014 and 2017. That streak was snapped by Justin Bonsignore, who also won the championship in 2020. You have to go back to 2015 to find a year where both Coby and Bonsignore didn’t finish in the top three in NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour points.
An interesting wrinkle in this comparison is that, like Tom Brady, Doug Coby was on a new team in 2020. After a long and successful run driving for Mike Smeriglio III, Doug Coby started his own team and is now an owner/driver following Smeriglio’s retirement.
Casey Johnson vs. Justin Mondeik
The evolution of the Wisconsin Super Late Model hierarchy has been an interesting one over the past seven years. Once Ty Majeski’s playground, NASCAR aspirations have limited Majeski’s ability to run any full tour, even if he remains a threat to win every time his schedule allows. In his absence, Casey Johnson has become one of the top racers in Wisconsin, with a pair of championships on the ARCA Midwest Tour and four consecutive TUNDRA Super Late Model Series titles.
However, Justin Mondeik is lurking in the background, threatening Johnson at every turn. Mondeik finished second in TUNDRA points in 2020, third in 2020 ARCA Midwest Tour points and third in 2019 TUNDRA points. Last year, Mondeik won three of the 12 combined races between the two series, but consistency allowed Johnson to score the championship in both without a win in either series. Could 2021 be the year Mondeik snags that elusive championship?
Johnny Clark vs. D.J. Shaw
It’s easy to forget that D.J. Shaw will turn 31 this year, leaving many of his prime racing years still ahead of him. That is scary to think about when Shaw already has five PASS North championships and 20 series wins to his credit.
This year, Shaw will have a chance to tie the record for most championships in the series, held by Johnny Clark at six. Interestingly enough, Clark might just prevent that and add a seventh title to his resume. The Maine veteran showed a resurgence in 2020, narrowly finishing second in points to Shaw with two wins to his credit.
One of those two wins came in the biggest race for the PASS North Super Late Models, and one of the country’s biggest Super Late Model races, the Oxford 250. Surprisingly, that marked the first time either Clark or Shaw had won the prestigious event.
Matt Sheppard vs. Mat Williamson
The COVID-19 pandemic prevented the completion of a full 2020 Super DIRTcar Series season. As a result, Mat Williamson remains the reigning champion for the Big-Block Modified touring series. Williamson edged out Sheppard in a thrilling championship battle in 2019.
Before that, Sheppard boasted four consecutive series titles, as well as seven total championships. Williamson’s 2019 performance prevented Sheppard from tying Brett Hearn for most championships in series history at eight. With hopes of the series returning to full swing in 2021, will Sheppard add another chapter in the record books or can Williamson once again take top honors?
-Text by Speed51 Staff