A new year brings new storylines in short track racing. Whether it’s on dirt or pavement, with or without fenders, here are 10 names we are keeping an eye on as the 2021 racing season gets underway.
Max McLaughlin – After the North-South Shootout win last November, it’s safe to say Tour-type Modified fans want to see this guy on a regular basis on the asphalt in a Modified. Others want him to keep to the dirt in the Big-Block Modifieds where he won at Weedsport in October. Whoever gets him is in for a show.
Craig Lutz – He won twice on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour in 2020 and was fourth in the final points. He also won at New Smyrna & the Monadnock Tri-Track Open Modified Series event. He’s been in the mix with three-straight top five point finishes. He is one guy who might step up and challenge the Doug Coby and Justin Bonsignore stronghold on the Modified Tour.
Bubba Pollard – Normally we are watching Bubba Pollard all the time, but what went down at the end of 2020 has us all wondering about his 2021 campaign. Pollard will rebound, but we will see how quickly that will be.
Jake Garcia – After finishing second in the 2019 Snowball Derby, Garcia earned three wins in the Pro Late Model, including the Alabama 200 at Montgomery Motor Speedway. While he didn’t win on the Super Late Model side, the teenager had two runner-ups at Five Flags Speedway and finished in the top-five seven times. Is 2021 the year Garcia breaks through for his first Super Late Model win?
Kaden Honeycutt – The Texas driver joined forces with childhood favorite Donnie Wilson in July and quickly became a breakout star. In just three starts with Wilson Motorsports at Five Flags, Honeycutt’s worst finish was fifth. That came in the Snowball Derby after starting on the outside front row. He will be a threat to win anytime he climbs into the Wilson No.2.
Casey Roderick – After parting ways with Ronnie Sanders and finishing 2019 with Wilson Motorsports, Roderick took a gamble and started his own team. After showing speed everywhere he went, it would all pay off with his first All American 400 win at Nashville in early November. Now with one year of driving for himself behind him, possibilities for the Georgia driver are endless.
Tyler Courtney – “Sunshine” has been the most dominant driver in USAC competition since 2017. He has won 38 total races between all three national series’ and championships in the Midget and Sprint Car. After debuting a Winged Sprint Car last year, he and Clauson-Marshall Racing will now put the top on full-time in 2021 and join a stacked field of drivers that are chasing after an All-Star Circuit of Champions title.
Travis Braden – Last fall proved to be a roller coaster ride for the 2019 Snowball Derby champion. Braden went from losing his ride after Team Platinum brought an end to its 2020 season following a top-10 finish at the Winchester 400 to joining forces with Jake Keaton Racing at the Snowball Derby. Will Braden continue working with Jake Keaton Racing in 2021? Will he go in a different direction? How often will we see him compete this season?
Ross Bailes – South Carolina’s Ross Bailes has long established himself as a guy to watch in Dirt Late Model competition in the Southeast, even when the national touring stars come to his backyard, with three wins between the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and World of Outlaws Late Models to his credit. This year, Bailes and Big Frog Motorsports will take the fight on the road, competing for World of Outlaws rookie of the year honors.
Stewart Friesen – Along with his NASCAR Truck Series and Big Block Modified efforts, Stewart Friesen announced he will compete part-time in a Dirt Late Model starting with Georgia/Florida Speedweeks. How will Friesen fare in the Super Late Models?
-Text by Speed51 Staff
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo
Bubba Pollard, Casey Roderick, Craig Lutz, Jake Garcia, Kaden Honeycutt, Max McLaughlin, Ross Bailes, Stewart Friesen, Travis Braden, Tyler Courtney