Graeme Rufenacht wins the DragChamp 16-17 Jr. Racer of the Year title presented by Laris Motorsports Insurance
01/18/23 – Welcome to the 2022 DragChamp 16-17 Jr. Racer of the Year Top 10 List presented by Laris Motorsports Insurance. This week we rank the best 16-17 year old racers in the country and crown the 2022 16-17 Jr. Racer of the Year!
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DragChamp Jr. Racer Top 10 List
1 – Graeme Rufenacht
Graeme Rufenacht is your 2022 16-17 Jr. Racer of the Year! #Gman won 18 times in 27 finals in his Jr. dragster but racked up numerous more wins in a combination of High School, Sportsman, Index, and Bottom Bulb. The highlight of Graeme’s season had to be winning the WCF in Denver then making the 16-17 final at the ECF. Very few racers make one Conference Final in their career, much less two in the span of several weeks. Rufenacht, along with his dad Sam, traveled the country racing at 17 tracks in 9 states racking up wins against the best racers in the country.
2 – Cole Knieriem
Cole Knieriem won 8 times in 9 finals during his partial 2022 but it was his unbelievable performance at the Jr. Christmas on the Coast that sealed the #2 spot for him. At Gulfport, Cole dominated the best 200 Jr. racers in the country while posting a runner-up in the $20,000 race and going the distance in the $10,000 Invitational the following day! An impressive feat considering how talented the field was in Gulfport.
3 – Will Willard
Will Willard lands in the #3 spot in our 2022 Jr. Racer Top 10 List after winning 22 times in 29 final round appearances. Willard, a regular on the DragChamp Top 10 List throughout the season, enjoyed his most successful season in Jr.’s to date. His 22 victories also helped secured the Elk Creek track championship.
4 – Corey Wattenbarger
Corey Wattenbarger dominated Jr. racing in Oklahoma collecting 22 winners trophies in 28 final rounds. He picked up wins at the WCF, the NHRA Division 4 Jr. Finals, won championships at Mid America and Ardmore, and was the D4 High School runner-up. Corey also made two finals in his Super Pro dragster along with several semifinal finishes.
5 – Peyton Shook
Peyton Shook earned a Top 5 spot after winning 15 times in 24 races. Shook won championships at Bradenton and Immokalee and was a participant in the $10,000 Jr. DragChamp Invitational.
6 – Curtis Peek
Curtis Peek enjoyed a successful season that found him in the winners circle 14 times out of 21 final round showings. Peek won 4 Wally’s on the season along with the NHRA Division 2 Championship. He won the Gainesville track championship along with numerous big money races throughout the 2022 season.
7 – Hayden James
Hayden James lands in the lucky #7 spot after winning 10 times in 16 finals. Highlights of his season included winning the Silver Dollar track championship, $5,000 at the BMP Thanksgiving Jr. Nationals, and posting a runner-up at the Thanksgiving Jr. Nationals off the trailer race.
8 – Hunter Davis
Last seasons’ Jr. Racer of the Year Hunter Davis lands in the number 8 spot this year. Hunter won 10 times in 11 finals over the course of the season including a number of big money wins. This included a $5K victory and a Dream Team win at Holly Springs, $1K win at the No Delay Nationals, and a $2K runner-up at Sikeston.
9 – Jesse Fritts
Jesse Fritts won 7 times in 14 finals to secure his Top 10 spot. In addition to racing Jr.’s, Jesse also won several races in his Camaro roadster. He was part of the winning Dream Team, won twice in the MidWest Jr Super Series, was runner-up at the $10K DragChamp Invitational, and won four times at Coles County.
10 – Madi Clark
Madi Clark closes out the 16-17 Jr. Racer Top 10 List after winning 6 times in 11 finals. The 2022 Dragway 42 track champ made multiple appearances on the DragChamp Top 10 throughout the season and was a participant in the DragChamp 10K Invitational.
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And remember, look for our DragChamp Jr. Top 10 List nominations Facebook post every Monday evening. You can nominate your favorites in the comments of the post for consideration on the list.
If you nominate a racer, please include their name, their accomplishment, which track(s), and a winners circle photo. Some racers have missed the list because we didn’t have enough information and couldn’t find anything online.
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