A new racing season is upon us, with all the unknowns that come with it. Each year, a new cast of drivers makes their presence known in the short track world with a breakthrough season. Here is a list of 10 drivers we believe could be prime candidates for that breakout year in 2021.
Grant Thompson – The Pro Truck champion from Five Flags Speedway is now ready for some full-time Late Model action. We see some talent here and we are awaiting their 2021 plans. He drove for GARC at the Snowflake and that could be an opportunity, but that is just speculation at this point.
Jake Johnson – After a huge win for New England at the Allen Turner Snowflake 100 at Five Flags Speedway, the eyes will turn to this Massachusetts driver who will look to ride the momentum into 2021. We will all watch him wondering what’s next? He just turned 18 years old a few days back and he now will look to prove that he can do more. Sure, his Snowflake win came with some help, but he came from 31st to third in the race. That’s what got him here on this list, not the trophy.
Brandon Short – Short is the son of car owner Brian Short in the Outlaw Late Model world of the Midwest. The elder Short has produced race cars for Steve Needles and Jeff Ganus in the past. Now, his son has come along and will look to continue the success. He won several times at Midvale in 2020 and will look to build on that in 2021.
Cla Knight – Let’s just say we wished we had seen him at every ULTIMATE Super Late Model Series race in 2020. His average finish of 5.71 was one of the best in the series. He will have a lot of racing options in 2021, and we want to see if those numbers translate into wins.
Jake Finch – He’s young and he has a great team behind him, and we will all be watching after he was second in the Snowflake 100 and the Allen Turner Tune-Up 100. Finch will be at CRA SpeedFest and the World Series. Johnny Allen will be his crew chief and this has all the workings of a fine season.
Jordon Riddick – The Southern Indiana driver made his full-bodied car debut in 2020 with the CRA Junior Late Models, winning two races with the series. The 15-year-old also made his Pro Late Model debut in California last month, finishing third at Kern County Raceway Park in a car owned by West Coast power Collins Motorsports. With the Kimmels in his corner, we could see Riddick have a breakout year in 2021 in what they decide to compete in.
Kaylee Bryson – The long-time Micro Sprint competitor joined Keith Kunz Motorsports for her first full-time Midget campaign last year, and quickly impressed those in the open-wheel dirt world. In a series that saw its highest car count in several years, Bryson made all but one A-Main in 22 USAC National Midget, finishing third at Caney Valley Speedway and setting fast time at Lawrenceburg Speedway during Indiana Midget Week, while also adding a runner-up with POWRi at Humboldt Speedway. With a year of experience under her belt, she is poised to become the first female National Midget dirt winner in 2021.
Caden Kvapil – Caden Kvapil just turned 14 years old, but the younger brother of Carson Kvapil and son of 2003 NASCAR Truck Series champion Travis Kvapil is already making his presence known. Caden finished second to his younger brother in Millbridge Speedway’s Open Division points standings in 2020 before scoring a win in his first Late Model start with the Carolina Pro Late Model Series at Florence Motor Speedway during the South Carolina 400. If he’s like his older brother, there’s no telling where and when you might see him in 2021, but he’ll probably be near the front wherever he shows up.
Jonathan Shafer – Shafer competed in Late Model Stock Cars during 2020, racing with Nelson Motorsports alongside the likes of two-time CARS Tour champion Bobby McCarty and Timothy Peters. In 2021, Shafer makes the transition to Lee Pulliam Performance, working with the four-time NASCAR National Champion with a long line of development successes of his own. How will the move to the new team shake out for the young gun?
Brent Crews – Millbridge Speedway’s addition of Micro Sprints in 2020 opened doors for a new generation and region of racers to give the 600cc machines a go. Young Brent Crews took advantage of the opportunity, finishing third in the track’s Wednesday Micro Sprints points battle. Crews then carried that momentum to Tulsa, Oklahoma, finishing third in the Outlaw Non-Wing portion of the Tulsa Shootout.
-Text by Speed51 Staff
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo