Each year, the Short Track Draft presented by PFC Brakes on Speed51 showcases some of the great young talent in short track racing. Looking through each year’s draft results can also be like looking into a time capsule, seeing who the hot stars were at a given moment in racing.
To show how quickly the landscape can change, here is a look at last year’s top 25 Short Track Draft picks, and where they are just one year later.
#1 – Harrison Burton – Burton is competing full-time on the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He is currently ninth in series points, with a top-five and two top 10s in five starts thus far. He also won the ARCA Menards Series season-opener at Daytona International Speedway (FL) and made his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut with a 10th-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN).
#2 – Austin Theriault – The 2017 ARCA Menards Series champion is currently scratching for a ride. He has attempted two NASCAR Truck Series events in 2019, making the field at Martinsville Speedway (VA). He has been in talks to compete part-time with Go Fas Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this season.
#3 – Casey Roderick – After turning 26 years old last August, Roderick is no longer eligible for the Short Track Draft but remains one of the top stars in Super Late Model racing. Roderick claimed the 2018 championships in the Southern Super Series and the Five Flags Speedway (FL) Blizzard Series.
#4 – Chandler Smith – Smith rocketed up the draft boards after winning the 2018 CRA SpeedFest 200 at Watermelon Capital Speedway (GA), and proved through the remainder of 2018 he was one of racing’s top prospects. In nine ARCA starts, Smith won twice and never finished outside the top ten. Smith also finished sixth in the 51stAnnual Snowball Derby.
#5 – Bobby Pierce – Pierce added more accolades to his dirt racing resume in 2018, with four wins in the Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series. Pierce also defended his title in the Gateway Dirt Nationals, winning the Late Models feature for the second straight year.
#6 – Kyle Benjamin – Unfortunately, Kyle Benjamin spent much of 2018 on the sidelines looking for a ride, making three Xfinity starts – finishing third at Iowa Speedway – and two Truck starts at Martinsville Speedway with finishes of second and fifth. This season, Benjamin is competing part-time on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
#7 – Zane Smith – Smith finished second in ARCA points in 2018, winning four races over the course of the season. This season, Smith will compete in eight races in the Xfinity Series for JR Motorsports as he continues to ascend the racing ladder.
#8 – Christian Eckes – Eckes claimed his first Truck Series pole in February at Daytona and is competing full-time in the ARCA Menards Series. Eckes missed ARCA’s most recent event at Salem Speedway (IN) due to complications from food poisoning, but will return to action this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway (AL) looking for his fourth career win in the series.
#9 – Derek Kraus – Kraus finished eighth in his Truck Series debut last season at ISM Raceway (AZ). He was a four-time winner on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West circuit in 2018, and he won the K&N Pro Series East season opener at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) to kick off 2019.
#10 – Jeremy Doss – Doss won the 2018 Spears SRL Southwest Tour Championship, winning three of the series’ nine races. Doss is a 2019 Kulwicki Driver Development Program finalist who will attempt to defend his SRL title this season, while also competing in major Super Late Model events on the West Coast.
#11 – Brandon Sheppard – Brandon Sheppard may not have won his second World of Outlaws Late Model Series championship in 2018, but he finished second in series points and scored 18 wins between that series and the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. Sheppard is on fire with the Outlaws thus far in 2019, with six wins in their first 10 events.
#12 – Derek Griffith – Derek Griffith won the 2018 Pro All Stars Series (PASS) National Championship, with wins at Dillon Motor Speedway (SC) and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT). Griffith is again competing in PASS in 2019 along with other major Super Late Model races.
#13 – Sheldon Haudenschild – Haudenschild enjoyed a breakout season in 2018, picking up five wins with the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series. Haudenschild is again competing with the Outlaws in 2019, although he is looking for his first win of 2019 to go along with three top-five finishes and six top 10s in 12 races thus far.
#14 – Raphael Lessard – Lessard has had limited seat time in 2019 after spending last season in the Kyle Busch Motorsports Super Late Model program. The Canadian driver started seventh and finished 14thin his Truck Series debut at Martinsville, finished eighth in the ARCA event at Five Flags Speedway, and finished ninth in the K&N Pro Series East event at Bristol.
#15 – David Gravel – Gravel is another racer who turned 26 during 2018 and is no longer eligible for the Short Track Draft. While Gravel was not able to match his prolific 2017 numbers with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars, he still won five races and amassed 29 top-fives en route to a third-place finish in point. Gravel has two wins Outlaws wins thus far in 2019.
#16 – Travis Braden – Braden currently leads the ARCA Menards Series points standings through three races in his second full-time season in the series. Braden is also competing in select Super Late Model events throughout 2019, with four top-10 finishes at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) and a runner-up finish in the ARCA/CRA Super Series event at Anderson Speedway (IN).
#17 – Nick Hoffman – Hoffman added yet another DIRTcar Nationals triumph to his resume this February, tallying his fourth consecutive championship in the UMP Modifieds at Volusia Speedway Park (FL). Hoffman is no longer eligible for the Short Track Draft as a 26-year-old racer.
#18 – Spencer Bayston – Bayston, the 2017 USAC National Midget Series champion, moved up to 410 Sprint Cars for the 2019 season, where he enjoyed a top-five finish during the 2018 World of Outlaws World Finals and two All Star Circuit of Champions wins in 2017.
#19 – Stephen Nasse – Nasse picked up the Mobile 300 win last fall at Mobile International Speedway to go along with his 2018 World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing Super Late Model Championship in 2018. Nasse will again compete in Super Late Models this season, and already has a top-five at CRA SpeedFest to his credit on the year.
#20 – Tanner Thorson – Thorson competed in 11 Truck Series events in 2018, with a best finish of 13that Iowa Speedway. Thorson planned to compete full-time with the USAC National Midget Series in 2019 but was sidelined in a highway incident in March.
#21 – Matt Craig – Craig continued to flex his muscle in Super Late Model racing in 2018, scoring his third consecutive PASS South Super Late Model Series championship. Craig continues to compete with PASS in 2019, finishing third at Richmond Raceway (VA) in the Commonwealth Classic.
#22 – Chase Purdy – Purdy finished fourth in ARCA Menards Series points in 2018 with 10 top-five finishes. He also won the Midwest Tour Dixieland 250 before closing out his season with a win in the Snowflake 100. However, that Snowflake 100 triumph is the last time we have seen Purdy in a race car.
#23 – Sheldon Creed – Four wins and 16 top-five finishes propelled Creed to the 2018 ARCA Menards Series Championship last year. Creed was not on ballots for the 2019 Short Track Draft, as he has moved up to a full-time ride with GMS Racing in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Creed has one top-ten so far in 2019, finishing sixth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (NV).
#24 – Hudson O’Neal – “The New Deal” missed the end of the 2018 season after undergoing shoulder surgery, but picked up two wins and 11 top-five finishes before his early exit. He also wasted no time returning to victory lane, scoring a feature win with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series at East Bay Raceway Park (FL) during Speedweeks.
#25 – Carson Hocevar – Hocevar is competing for the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge in the ARCA Menards Series in 2019, driving for KBR Development. He finished third at Salem Speedway after qualifying on the pole.
-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor
-Photo credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images