Last week, we unveiled the top ten dirt racing prospects in the Short Track Draft. The list included drivers from Late Models, Open Wheel, and the Modified ranks, with some of the brightest talent dirt has to offer.
Today, we look at who will be the top dirt driver in this year’s draft. Going off the top 10 dirt prospects list, we would have to go with the “Smooth Operator” Bobby Pierce.
The Illinois driver knocked off 18 wins one year ago, with the biggest win coming at the Silver Dollar Nationals at I-80 Speedway with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. That’s just one of Pierce’s many marquee victories over the years, which include a World 100, North-South 100, Show-Me 100, Jackson 100, Pittsburgher, and two Gateway Dirt Nationals titles.
According to TheThirdTurn.com, Pierce has earned 90 wins over the course of his career, which does not take local shows into consideration. In all, that number could easily be over 100.
Pierce has seen the NASCAR national spotlight in the past and has performed well in each of his opportunities. His NASCAR Truck Series debut at Eldora Speedway saw him start on the pole and finish second to NASCAR Cup Series rookie Christopher Bell in 2015, then he backed it up the next year by leading the most laps before a late crash ended his race prematurely.
Along with the on-track stats, Pierce is one of the most personable drivers in all of short track racing. He is interactive with fans both at the track and on social media and is very well-spoken when it comes to the media.
The last three Short Track Drafts have seen Pierce in the top five, and it looks likely to happen once again here in 2020. However, time is starting to run out for the 23-year-old. In all likelihood, this will be the sixth draft Pierce will have been selected in and the opportunities at the next level to this point have been few and far in-between. Dirt Late Model racing hasn’t seen many of its drivers make it to NASCAR in recent years, and Pierce could fall by the wayside before long.
Pierce is followed by drivers from the USAC ranks, but both have their share of uncertainties. Tyler Courtney won 21 races in 2019 and scored a USAC National Midget title and a runner-up in the National Sprint points race, but age is becoming a factor. “Sunshine” made the age cutoff mark by just three weeks after the cutoff was moved up a month from last year’s date. Now a 26-year-old, he has made just one asphalt start in his career, which does not bode well with trying to climb up the ranks.
Logan Seavey was a top-five pick in last year’s draft and backed it up with 19 wins in 2019, but he didn’t exactly set the world on fire like he did in 2018. Add to that he is no longer a part of Toyota Racing Development, and the chances of seeing him make another start on asphalt is grim.
Who will be the dirt driver taken in this year’s Short Track Draft? Find out on Thursday, April 30 during the first-ever Short Track Draft Selection Show at 7 p.m. Eastern.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent – Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo