Grace Varner wins the 2023 DragChamp 16-17 Jr. Racer of the Year title presented by Laris Motorsports Insurance after winning 16 times on the season.
01/17/24 – Welcome to the 2023 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 2023 16-17 Jr. Racer of the Year!
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DragChamp Jr. Racer Top 10 List
1 – Grace Varner
Grace Varner is your 2023 16-17 Jr. Racer of the Year! Grace won 16 times in 21 finals in her Jr. Dragster. The highlights of Grace’s season include winning the North Florida Motorsports Park Track Championship, WDRA Bracket Finals Championship, and IHRA Bracket Finals Championship. In addition to all of her wins throughout the season, she also won the IHRA Bracket Finals Gamblers Race and NHRA National Open at Rockingham.
2 – Curtis Peek
Curtis Peek won 13 times in 19 finals at 12 different tracks during his 2023 racing season. He doubled-up in the same night at the Back to School race and won both $1K races at the Fall Brawl in Gainesville. In addition, he also captured a $1K win and runner-up at the No One Fights Alone event. Peek also got his feet wet racing big cars and finished the season with 2 wins in 3 final rounds.
3 – Camron Nelson
Camron Nelson lands in the #3 spot in our 2023 Jr. Racer Top 10 List after winning 14 times in 18 final round appearances. Nelson, a regular on the DragChamp Top 10 List throughout the season, earned three championships. He won the 2023 Houston Raceway Park NHRA Jr Championship, 2023 Xtreme Ironman Pro Mod IHRA Series Jr Championship, and the 2023 NHRA Division 4 ROC Championship. He raced at 12 different race tracks throughout the season including Houston Raceway Park, Little River Dragway, and Edinburg Motorsport Park.
4 – Peyton Bunch
Peyton Bunch collected 11 winners trophies in 15 final rounds during his final season in a Junior Dragster. He picked up wins at the Maryland International Raceway King of the Creek, Virginia Motorsports Park Triple Threat, and in the Southern Bracket Racing Association (SBRA). He ended the season with two track championships, SBRA Race of Champions win, and finished 2nd in the King of the Creek points chase by 1 round.
5 – Brayden Todd
Brayden Todd earned a Top 5 spot after winning 10 times in 16 races. Todd won the WDRA track championship at Montgomery International Raceway and earned wins at the Hangover Nationals, Jr World Series, and in the Christmas on the Coast “Race your Way In”. Brayden also had many double-up weekends and several back-to-back wins throughout the season.
6 – Will Willard
Will Willard enjoyed a successful season that found him in the winners circle 10 times out of 14 final round showings. Elk Creek Dragway Track Champion, Willard picked up a $5K Jr Jam win at Brainerd and was also crowned as the IHRA Division 1 Bracket Finals Champion. He also captured the IHRA World Finals Race of Champions win and participated in the Christmas on the Coast 64-Car $10K DragChamp Invitational.
7 – Hunter Davis
Hunter Davis lands in the lucky #7 spot after winning 10 times in 13 finals. Highlights of his season included winning the $10K Christmas on the Coast race, Jim Hooper Memorial $3K win, $1K Thanksgiving Jr Nationals Off the Trailer 32-Car Shootout win, and Mike Bos Fun Race 15-17 Year Old Age Group win. Hunter was also crowned as the Midwest Junior Super Series 7.90 Index Points Champion.
8 – Dexter Gomez
Dexter Gomez lands in the number 8 spot this year after winning 9 times in 14 finals over the course of the season including a number of big money wins. This included a $2K victory at the King of the Creek, $2K win at the Boo Banger, $1,500 win at Kentucky Dragway Halloween race and a $2K double-up at the New Years Nationals. In addition, Dexter was also crowned as the 15-year-old Eastern Conference Final Champion.
9 – William Craft
William Craft won 8 times in 12 finals at 13 different race tracks to secure his Top 10 spot. William picked up some big money Junior Dragster wins including the $20,000 win at the Christmas on the Coast, $4,000 Back to School race win, and $1,000 Triple Pumpkin North Florida win. He also picked up two Division 2 NHRA Wally wins, was crowned as the NHRA Division 2 LODRS 13-17 Champion, and participated in the Christmas on the Coast 64-Car $10K DragChamp Invitational.
10 – Braxton Bann
Braxton Bann earned a spot on the 16-17 Jr. Racer of the Year list after winning 8 times in 11 finals. The 2023 WallaWalla Dragstrip Junior Lightning Track Champion captured three NHRA Wally wins, the O’Brien Shootout win at the Western Conference Finals, and was the Halloween Classic Champion at Firebird Raceway. In addition, Braxton claimed the Division 6 Land of the Leaders Series Championship and had a runner-up finish in the Junior Lighting Division 6 ET Finals.
10 – A.J. Leung
2023 IHRA World Champion, A.J. Leung had a fantastic year collecting 6 wins in 7 final rounds. In addition to his prestigious IHRA World Championship, he was also crowned as the Wisconsin International Raceway Track Champion and the Wisconsin International Raceway Ironman Classic Champion. A.J. also claimed a $1K Rock Falls Rumble at the Rock win and earned a semi-final finish at the IHRA Division 5 Team Finals.
11 – Mario Gonzalez
Mario Gonzalez traveled to 10 race tracks to earn 7 wins in 9 final rounds in the 2023 season. His notable wins include a $5K win at Prescott and a victory at the Southern Big Buck Nationals. He made the semi-finals at the Western Conference Finals, Eastern Conference Finals and DragChamp Christmas on the Coast $10K 64-Car Invitational. Mario was also crowned as the 2023 Texas Motorplex Track Champion.
11 – O’Riley Benda
O’Riley Benda won 7 times in 8 finals at 11 different race tracks to claim a spot on the 16-17 Jr. Racer of the Year list. Highlights from his season include three $1,000 race wins, an Ironman win, and being a part of the $5,000 winning team at the Thanksgiving Nationals.
11 – Gage Wilson
Gage Wilson rounds out the 16-17 Jr. Racer of the Year list by earning 7 wins in 9 finals at 5 different tracks during the 2023 season. He was crowned as the JDRL Division 5 Champion, JDRL Division 4 Champion, and the Dallas Fall National Shootout Champion. In addition, he was voted as the Summit ET racer of the Year.
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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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