Speed51.com's "The Big 10"
Our Take on Some Big Stories in the Short Track World
By Matt Kentfield (Twitter: @mattkentfield) and Elgin Traylor (Twitter: @elgintraylor)

For the past two-plus weeks, Speed51.com has rolled out the 2011 edition of the Short Track Draft, which was presented this year by Hedman Husler Hedders.  Many fans took to our Facebook page and praised our panel’s picks.  Far more took to the page to complain about drivers’ rankings or the lack of other drivers being a part of the top 51.  If nobody complained, then it wouldn’t be racing, right?  Glad everyone enjoyed the Draft this year, and to those who still are upset about the results, there’s about 350 days left for your hero to impress the panel for next year’s Draft. 

Corey  LaJoie is nothing like many of his contemporaries in the K&N East Series or other short track kids his age because he’s not afraid to speak what’s on his mind and doesn’t have (and wouldn’t listen to probably if he did) a PR person or marketing guru on his side.  To come out with a quote like ““If I was in that (development) car, I'd lap the whole field,” as he told NASCARHomeTracks.com last month, you’ve got to have some stones.  We like that.

No one likes rainouts.  Not racers, not promoters, not fans.  Simple solution?  No rainouts!  That’s what Lanier National Speedway is planning on with an announcement that they’ll run rain or shine for the remainder of the year.  Purses will be cut or eliminated if there’s threat of rain, but the races will go on.  Revolutionary idea?  Absolutely.  Good idea?  Well, we don’t see many fans wanting to sit in the rain or drivers wanting to put their car on a wet track (even with “rain tires” that the track has spoken to Hoosier about), but maybe it’ll work?  Maybe?

As the kids say on the playground basketball courts, Kenzie Ruston drank her “Haterade” before the ARCA Racing Series event at Toledo Speedway last weekend.  After being named by the 51 panel to the Short Track Draft, several “haters” complained about Ruston’s selection.  All she did a couple days after the list came out was become the first female racer to both lead laps and finish in the top-10 in an ARCA event.  That’s how you shut people up.

We know racers and crews don’t always like inverts, re-draws or dice-rolls to set the top spots on starting lineups, but let’s face it – sometimes they’re necessary.  Take at South Boston Speedway where we watched double 75-lap features the other week.  Phililp Morris, who had won the first four races at the Virginia track already in 2011, set fast time, started first without any redraw or anything and led every lap.  Then the field started straight-up as they finished the first race in race number-two.  Guess who won?  That’s why fans pack the grandstands at tracks in the Northeast that heat race and handicap starting lineups based on money earned in previous weeks.  Fast guys almost always start deep in the field.  That’s fun.  What we saw at SoBo wasn’t.

A few tracks are putting a “bounty” on their most dominant drivers these days.  There’s one at South Boston for Philip Morris and there’s one out for Texas Modified driver Zak Hausler, offering a big bonus for a driver who can finally defeat them.  How does that make the rest of the track regulars feel?  Tracks have to offer up a big payday to get drivers from outside the home track to come take their shot at ending win streaks?  Why not add that money to the purse and distribute it to second-on-back if the dominator wins so the other guys can buy some faster stuff?

We’re always glad to see racetracks survive tumultuous times and succeed.  Especially a place as fun to watch a race as New Hampshire’s Star Speedway.  For the past few years, the person running the facility has had all kinds of issues with the town, the law, and some racers at the track.  The Webber family took back control of the track in the off-season and has made Star back into what it should have been all along by letting the real show be on the track.  The crowd was good for the PASS North race last weekend, but would’ve only been better had it been for a better weather forecast.  Still, a lot of cars turned up, which was awesome to see.

The Great Lakes Outlaw Series has folded up shop after one season, much to the chagrin of Outlaw Super Late Model racers and fans in the Upper Midwest.  But, kudos go to tracks and promoters who have decided to keep the Outlaw cars on their scheduled dates and big shows on as-scheduled, just without the Great Lakes sanction.  Because of this, it’ll be another fun year of Outlaw racing up North with big shows such as the Stan Perry Memorial, Glass City 200, Kalamazoo Klash, Summer Sizzler and several other big shows highlighting the summer. 

Chase Elliott and Bubba Pollard are two of the hottest stars in short track racing today.  In fact our records indicate the two Georgia boys have won more 100-lap races in the last three years than anyone.   On Saturday, Elliott took his fourth win of 2011 and his 17th win since the start on 2010.  Pollard ended up with a checkered flag hours later in Mobile for his fifth win 2011 and 14th in the last two seasons.  Pollard holds the advantage dating back three years with 26 wins to Elliott's 21.  They’re good.

It’s the same story every year, fans of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and the Whelen Modified Tours clamor for media coverage, be it television or radio, and are quite vocal about wanting their series covered.  They post messages on Facebook, write networks, b*tch about NASCAR when their series is not getting the TV or radio coverage.  Well, there’s a TV package for the East and West Series, plus some Modified races on SPEED and NASCAR Home Tracks is putting 32 races live on internet radio through their website.  Has anyone written to SPEED or NASCAR thanking them for the coverage?  Show you appreciate the efforts and maybe you’ll see or hear more of what you made so much noise for initially.