The 2014 Speed51.com Short Track Draft presented by JEGS ballot was sent to more than 200 short track insiders, including media members, team and driver development professionals, track and series promoters and officials, product and industry representatives and more, NASCAR National Series drivers, crew members and more. The voters could select as few as 10 and as many as 51 drivers on their ballot, ranked in order that they would choose the drivers to compete for their Driver Development team in the top levels of the sport. The drivers with the best average result made the list of the top-51 picks in the 2014 Short Track Draft. The #1 Draft pick was announced on May 8. Picks 2-10 and Picks 11-25 were announced on May 9. The remaining "Best of the Rest" were announced on Tuesday.
Here are 2014 Short Track Draft Picks #26-51.
Hometown: Rutherford, CA
Series: Sprints / Midgets
Nicknamed "The Little Giant," Rico Abreu has seemingly taken the dirt sprint and midget car world by storm. Abreu has a personality that is almost unmatched and his Sprint Car victory lane celebrations - climbing onto the top wing and sliding down it - have become popular viral sensations. Abreu raced 102 times in 2013, winning 13 races including the Honda National Dirt Midget event during the "4 Crown Nationals" at Eldora (OH).
Pros: Blossoming success in the dirt world with a lot of former Sprint/Midget racers helping him out and spreading his name to the masses.
Cons: There's no telling, without the right experience and opportunity, if his dirt background can translate to stock cars until he gets that opportunity. Until that happens, he's a star on the dirt.
C.E. Falk III
Hometown: Virginia Beach, VA
Series: NASAR Whelen All-American Series
C.E. Falk is a proven Late Model Stock winner from Virginia who has decided to "transfer" to North Carolina to race. The former South Boston (VA) 300 winner and multi-time Langley Speedway (VA) champion was the first non-NASCAR Cup driver to win the Denny Hamlin Showdown a few years back.
Pros: Has won all around the region and is well spoken and very comical. A reality show with him and his brother would be a big hit because they don't hold back.
Cons: New location of his race team might develop growing pains for the 40 ride. It's almost like switching from a tight end to a wide receiver. He's also not had not had much success yet in 2014 until a recent pole at South Boston.
Hometown: Winston-Salem, NC
Series: Late Model Stock Cars / NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
The 2013 UARA-STARS Late Model champion, Dillon Bassett is still making waves in the Late Model Stock Car ranks in the Carolinas. Last year, he had three wins and 11 top-five’s in UARA competition. So far this year, he has strong runs at tough places like Southern National and Caraway in North Carolina, plus wins at Hickory and East Carolina
Pros: Consistently can find him in the top-10 in most of the events he competes in.
Cons: The Bassett family has had their run-ins with tech and NASCAR officials in the past, but Dillon is starting anew with a first-ever run at a NASCAR title in 2014.
Hometown: The Woodlands, TX
Brennan Poole made the most of his limited seat time in the ARCA Racing Series last year driving for Venturini Motorsports. In five starts, he posted two wins, four top-fives and an additional top-10 finish.
Pros: Has proven he can wheel a car on dirt and asphalt. In 2013, his win came on a Super Speedway (Michigan) and on dirt (Illinois State Fairgrounds), plus had a lot of success in the Late Model Stock Car ranks.
Cons: Needs more time behind the wheel. If he was able to run the full ARCA Racing Series season, could be a contender for the title.
Hometown: Pinellas Park, FL
Series: Super Late Models
After recording one win in 2013, Stephen Nasse kicked off 2014 with a bang by winning three races during Speedweeks at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) and finishing second in the overall standings. Nasse would follow those wins up with another win at New Smyrna during a Bight House Challenge Series event in April. Now fully recovered from the illness that kept him sidelined for nearly a month last season, Nasse is picking up steam like Jerome “The Bus” Bettis blowing through a defensive line.
Pros: Recently signed a deal to pilot the Adrian Carriers No. 29, a proven car and team in the Super Late Model ranks, in some of the toughest SLM events in the country.
Cons: Nasse has yet to win “the big one." He's been fast at the Snowball Derby, Winchester 400 and other major events, but hasn't sealed the deal yet.
Hometown: Fairhope, AL
Series: ARCA Racing Series / Super Late Models
Grant Enfinger is probably the quietest hottest driver in short track racing. He finished second at the Snowball Derby and won the first three ARCA Racing Series events of the year. His momentum could carry him to the 2014 championship.
Pros: Knows how to take care of his equipment and how to set up his car to race at the variety of tracks.
Cons: He is 29 years old and by today’s trend, he is not in that age window that many teams are looking at in future drivers.
Hometown: Holtsville, NY
Series: NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour / Valenti Modified Racing Series
Long Island sports fans are some of the most passionate fans around - many of whom are fans of underdog teams like the Jets, Mets and Islanders. But one of their own, Justin Bonsignore, has transformed from an underdog in the Modified ranks to a bona fide star. Bongsignore cut his teeth on the Riverhead (NY) bullring, but had several NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour wins before snagging statement wins in the 2014 Richie Evans Memorial at New Smyrna (FL) and the NWMT season-opener at Thompson (CT).
Pros: Personable and a fan-favorite, Bonsignore is a legitimate title threat on the NASCAR Tour as well as in the Valenti Modified Racing Series in 2014.
Cons: Like many Modified racers, it's tough for him to open eyes of potential stock car car owners just by stats alone.
Hometown: Sherrils Ford, NC
Series: Limited Late Models / Late Model Stock Cars
Todd Gilliland turned some heads last fall at Myrtle Beach when he almost won the 100-lap Limited Late Model race before the big Late Model Stock Car show. If he could redo that last restart of that race or run the "final play" in the big game then he'd likely win it. Already having won this season at Ace Speedway (NC), Gilliland looks to have a bright future
Pros: Has a solid family background and is learning at a steady pace that does not seemed rushed.
Cons: Carrying a NASCAR dad's name may bring some extra fan and media attention his way. He's young, so he'll have plenty of time to adjust to the spotlight and back up the attention that will come.
Bobby Santos, III
Hometown: Franklin, MA
Series: NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour / Open-Wheel
Competing in just 12 out of the 14 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour events in 2013, Bobby Santos III captured five pole awards and two victories last season, all of which came at two of the Tour's most frequently visited tracks, Stafford Motor Speedway (CT) and Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park (CT). The Massachusetts driver, whose quietness even after a great performance resembles former Indianapolis Colts receiver Marvin Harrison, is also fresh of a win at “the greatest race in the history of spring," the Spring Sizzler at Stafford.
Pros: Consistently a front runner on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour at Stafford, Thompson, and beyond when bad luck doesn’t arise. Also one of the more decorated asphalt Midget racers of his time.
Cons: He's had a couple shots in the stock car ranks, but none of those opportunities were long-lasting. A few bad crashes and mechanical problems ruined Santos’ chances to shine on the big Modified stages of New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway (TN).
Hometown: Acworth, GA
Series: Super Late Models / Pro Late Models
TJ Reaid is a consistent top-10 runner competing in numerous Southern Super Series and ARCA/CRA Super Series events. Last year, he picked up wins in both series and already has a win in the ARCA/CRA Super Series in 2014.
Pros: Always around the top five in Super Late Model competition. He's got the look and the personality that marketing folks desire in a driver.
Cons: So far, so good in 2014, but 2013 was a season of "almosts" for Reaid. The former All-American 400 winner had several top-five and top-10 finishes last year, but those wins eluded him.
Hometown: Wallingford, CT
Series: NASCAR Whelen All-American Series / NASCAR Modifieds / VMRS
It's a borderline shock that a decorated short tracker like Keith Rocco dropped this far down the Draft board in 2014. Rocco came up just short of a second NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championship, but still had 14 NWAAS wins between three Connecticut weekly tracks. He's off to perhaps the hottest start of anyone in the country in 2014, winning multiple SK Modified and Late Model races between Waterford (CT) and Thompson (CT).
Pros: Incredibly knowledgeable of his racecars. He's a proven championship winner and wins seemingly at least once a weekend in his home state.
Cons: In this day of sponsorship dollars, he's not going to sell any company's products in TV commercials, but he would get them plenty of air time on TV with his car up front.
Ronnie Bassett, Jr.
Hometown: Winston-Salem, NC
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East / Late Model Stock Cars
Ronnie Bassett, Jr. is a talented driver that has the ability to save tires much like a talented running back who has the ability to fake left and go right in a fraction of a second. Even though the success in 2014 hasn't been there so far, Bassett is still a worthy pick. He was a terror in the Late Model Stock scene in the Southeast, winning multiple races in several different series and tracks, before moving up to K&N Pro Series East.
Pros: Is a team player. Totally understands the teamwork as all his racing has been done with his family and his little brother racing right behind in every division.
Cons: Had a pretty cocky attitude in years past, but that has been reduced as he has matured.
Hometown: Mooresville, NC
Fourth-generation driver Karsyn Elledge, daughter of Kelly Earnhardt Miller and niece of Dale Earnhardt, Jr., captured championships in both the 125cc and Box Stock divisions at Millbridge Speedway's (NC) dirt racing facility during the 2013 season. On the way to winning both championships, Elledge won a combined 17 races between both divisions. As a result of her success, Elledge will make the move to the tracks Open division racing 550cc karts during the 2014 season.
Pros: Elledge will have people within her family that can provide her with valuable information that will lead to success. The passion to race, and be successful at it, is in her genes. Also, she's extremely outgoing and has already done quite a bit of on-camera TV work.
Cons: Still needs more experience behind the wheel of faster karts and stock cars. As the years tick by, it will be interesting to see how quickly Elledge will get behind the wheel of a full-bodied stock car.
Hometown: Islip, NY
Series: NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour / NWAAS Modifieds
If you're going to come out of the Long Island Modified scene, you better be good. Timmy Solomito is good. Heck, you don't get a nickname like "The Natural" by being mediocre. Solomito is breaking out of the Riverhead (NY) scene, where he is a consistent front-runner in the Modifieds as well as in Legends Cars. He won the pole for the NWMT race at Riverhead last year in just his sixth career start.
Pros: Solomito and his brother Shawn are two of the most popular Modified racers at Riverhead, but Timmy has seen a little more success in the touring ranks. Timmy is friendly and has proven that he can get the job done.
Cons: There's a handful of drivers on the NASCAR Tour that are good, but don't have wins yet to really turn heads. If he's able to break out from the pack and get a win or two this year, then people will notice.
Hometown: Wheeling, WV
Series: ARCA/CRA Super Series / JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour
Travis Braden, the 2013 ARCA/CRA Super Series champion, made his mark in 2013 with four wins, eight top-five and ten top-ten finishes in 13 starts. He is also a former NASCAR Whelen All-American Series State Champion (Ohio) and National Rookie of the Year.
Pros: Working his way up through the ranks and has found success at the local and regional level.
Cons: He needs to branch out more and race in more series or open Super Late Model events. That would be a good learning curve for the next level.
Hometown: Colonial Heights, VA
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Gray Gaulding tied his career-best NASCAR K&N Pro Series East finish with a second place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) in April but his first career win in the series continues to elude him. The 16-year-old captured his only win of the 2013 season in the November NASCAR K&N Pro Series West event at Phoenix International Raceway.
Pros: Continues to get the opportunities to prove himself in some of NASCAR’s top touring series.
Cons: Gaulding has yet to live up to the hype and show the consistency it takes to get to the next level. He’s on the right track in 2014 sitting second in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East standings after five events.
Hometown: Upper Late, CA
Series: SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour
At 17-years-old Jeremy Doss is not ready for the NFL, but he is ready to move up the short track ranks. He's already a winner and champion in Airport Auto Brokers Legends and Pacific Challenge Series Late Models. Recently, he became a winner in the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour. He's also a Rocky Mountain Challenge Series winner. If you keep watching, he'll keep winning.
Pros: Winner at every level and is doing it against the best in the West.
Cons: The West coast is a hard sell without exposure in the K&N Pro Series West ranks. The time is almost now for him to make a splash with a heavy car.
Tommy Barrett, Jr.
Hometown: Millis, MA
Series: NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour / Valenti Modified Racing Series
With three Modified Racing Series wins in both 2012 and 2013, Tommy Barrett, Jr. became one of the young stars of the Northeastern Modified ranks. He had his fair share of issues on the track and in the tech shed, but one thing that had never been an issue was speed. Barrett used his VMRS success to score a ride vacated by Modified legend Mike Stefanik in 2014.
Pros: Plenty of success on the VMRS tour and has been impressive in a few NWMT runs.
Cons: With some of the issues that caused a stir in the VMRS in the rear-view mirror, Barrett crashed in his 2014 NWMT debut qualifying attempt at Thompson. It was an ominous start to what many thought would be a break out season, but he did rebound to lead eight laps and finish 11th last month at Stafford (CT).
Hometown: Plantation, FL
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East & West
Harvard University has one of the oldest football teams in the country. Staropoli is not only a graduate of the New England school, but he's using his education to further his racing career. Staropoli won the inaugural PEAK Stock Car Dream Challenge. He is now a development driver for Michael Waltrip Racing. He's already scored a K&N West win this season at Irwindale Speedway (CA).
Pros: Is making the most the dream and his schooling makes him one of the most educated drivers on the list. To top it off he's attending medical school at Miami.
Cons: Not running full time. The PEAK deal allows him a pick-and-choose opportunity behind the wheel.
Dominique Van Wieringen
Hometown: Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada
Series: JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour
2013 was a breakthrough year for Dominque Van Wieringen, the 18-year-old female driver from Canada. She picked up a big win in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour race at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Clermont, Indiana and almost made it two in a row at Winchester Speedway (IN) but a mechanical issue put her in the runner-up position.
Pros: Marketable and a proven winner in the template-body and Outlaw Late Model ranks. She ended 2013 with a lot of momentum to carry into 2014.
Cons: Would be good to see her run more Super Late Model events against the big-guns on the scene to see where she stacks up.
Tommy Lemons, Jr.
Hometown: Troy, NC
Series: NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Cars
Some outside of the Late Model die-hards in the Carolinas might not have heard of Tommy Lemons, Jr. until he won at Martinsville last fall. Lemons is one of the good guys still having fun all across the southeast as he pockets a handful of wins each year.
Pros: Has no fear with who he's racing against. He has been chasing the dominators of the Late Model Stock Car world and it just seems to make him hungrier.
Cons: Needs to win more races in the group that he races with. He's right there every week and is logging some impressive stats. More wins over guys like Lee Pulliam would make him a national championship contender.
Hometown: Dawsonville, GA
Series: NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour / Super Late Models / Pro Late Models
Spencer Davis made a big move at the beginning of the 2014 racing season by announcing his attentions to run the full season in the Hillbilly Racing No. 79 on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Going from a full-bodied Late Model to an open-wheeled Modified was certainly an adjustment for Davis but he has seemed to catch on quick. Davis currently sits second in the NWSMT Rookie of the Year standings, just four points out of the lead. Davis also added two Pro Late Model wins and a New Smyrna Speedweeks Pro Late Model championship to his resume at the beginning of the 2014 season.
Pros: While Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan works on adjusting to the different types of defenses that teams throw at him, youngster Spencer Davis is showing that he has the ability to adjust and drive whatever is thrown at him, whether it’s a Pro Late Model or Tour-Type Modified. Having that sort of ability at such a young age has to impress those watching him.
Cons: Outside of a few Pro Late Model wins, Davis has yet to show that he can win consistently. He’s proved he can run up front, but more first place trophies would go a long way in proving he deserves a shot at the next level.
Hometown: Center Conway, NH
Series: Pro All-Stars Series
DJ Shaw almost has the hype of the small-town football star that has been raised to lead his team to the big game. Center Conway, New Hampshire is the town and the big game this season is the PASS North Championship. It's a goal that he's eyed in the past, but the maturity level and strong start to 2014 has made him a title favorite.
Pros: He builds the cars with his dad at Dale Shaw Race Cars. That gives him the ability to know every piece on every car he runs.
Cons: He's a little soft spoken, but he can back it up behind the wheel. He ran for a while in the K&N East ranks with limited success, but the lackluster success there has made him a hungrier Super Late Model racer.
Hometown: Ventura, CA
Series: Lucas Oil Modifieds
If you don't know about Jessica Clark, our panel thinks you might know more about her soon. Clark is the first female in the history of USAC to win two championship in one year. From there she moved to Lucas Oil Modifieds which is a highly competitive series out west. She was 13th in points last year and has already logged a top five this season.
Pros: Clark is a marketable, well-spoken female racer who is proving that she can make a name for herself.
Cons: Doors could open for her because she's a fast female, but how long she stays successful will be based solely on her accomplishments. A few more statement victories will go a long way towards moves up the ladder.
Hometown: Berwick, ME
Series: Pro All Stars Series
Joey Doiron cracks the top-51 in the Short Track Draft for the first time in his career this year after his most successful season in a Super Late Model. Doiron finished second in the 2013 PASS North championship standings after winning a pair of races at White Mountain Motorsports Park (NH) and recording four runner-up finishes including a second place run in the Oxford 250. He even showed he could get the job done in the South, winning a PASS race at Auburndale Speedway at the start of 2013.
Pros: Consistency was the name of the game for Doiron in 2013. The Berwick, Maine driver opened the 2013 season with six straight top-five finishes, which allowed him to have a chance at the championship during the final event of the season.
Cons: Being the bridesmaid is never any fun when it comes to racing and Joey Doiron will be the first to tell you that. Coming close at the Oxford 250 was a step in the right direction for him, but more wins will help him win over the voters in next year’s Draft.
Hometown: Mooresville, NC
Series: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East / USAC
Nick Drake is making the transition from open wheels to stock car racing through the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. He is the 2010 & 2011 USAC Ford Focus Midget National Champion. He is starting to make a good impression already in 2014 with two top-five’s in the first five starts. He even has one pole award, coming at Richmond.
Pros: Strong showing at a young age in the USAC ranks has been the stepping stone for many drivers to make it to the sport's top levels. Drake could be on that same path now that he's teamed up with Bill McAnally Racing.
Cons: He'll have a strong team behind him and a teammate in Cole Custer who's on the fast track to the top levels. Custer has the wins to earn that shot. If Drake's going to get there, he'll need to get those W's.