Concord, N.C. – After posting an incredible finish to an impressive season, Greeley, Colorado’s Brett Yackey has claimed the 2018 Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) Kulwicki Cup Championship. The hard-charging 18-year-old third-generation racer recorded three of the biggest wins of his young career during the final weeks of the competition and padded his points lead during the organization’s final voting.
When the seven months of the annual KDDP competition (April through October) had concluded, Yackey had accrued 1,099 points to Gleason, Wisconsin’s Justin Mondeik’s 957. Both Yackey and 22-year-old Mondeik were finalists in the 2017 Kulwicki Cup contest, with Yackey finishing third and Mondeik fifth.
The final 2018 KDDP “Kulwicki Cup” point standings look like this:
1) – Brett Yackey - 1099
2) – Justin Mondeik - 957
3) – Cole Butcher - 869
4) – Justin Carroll - 644
5) – Brittney Zamora - 561
6) – Derek Griffith - 419
7) – Molly Helmuth – 253
“Both Brett and Justin were so impressive this season and our advisory board tackled an incredible chore in the final evaluation process,” said KDDP Executive Director Tom Roberts. “All of our voting board members pointed to the behemoth job done by both of these young drivers in representing our organization off the track. I personally think their off-track activity level was stunning and so impactful. It came down to the on-track performances of the drivers that was the determining factor in the end.
“Brett came on so strong at the end of the season that it was jaw-dropping,” said Roberts. “Not only did he post his breakthrough victory in the Super Late Models at Colorado National Speedway, he came back two weeks later to win the prestigious 100-lap Challenge Cup battle at CNS, the track’s biggest race of the year. Brett closed out his 2018 campaign by venturing down to Tucson Speedway and winning a 75-lap Super Late Model feature on October 27.
“Brett’s season overall was quite amazing,” Roberts added. “He and his team made the 1,100-mile haul from Colorado to compete in the August Midwest Tour race at Kaukauna, Wisconsin (Wisconsin International Raceway) and failed to make the feature. It proved to be an educational venture for the youngster and he bounced back in spectacular fashion during the final months of the competition. Not only did Brett become a proven winner in Super Late Model competition, he also picked up his second championship in the tough Late Model division at Colorado National.
“When Justin Mondeik was selected to return to our KDDP team of drivers this season, he pledged to give it his all in not only the number of races he’d run, but in everything he did in representing Alan and our organization,” said Roberts. “Justin not only lived up to that promise, the commitment he displayed was awe-inspiring. The sheer amount of his off-track activity was unprecedented. When you consider that he was also a full-time student at Michigan Tech this fall, what he accomplished this season certainly could be labeled as phenomenal.
“The fact that Justin was able to achieve so much on and off the track this season as a combination driver/owner was so impressive,” added Roberts. “We know how much he wanted to close out the season with an impressive run on the race track, but unfortunately the weather gods did not allow him that opportunity.
“If Cole Butcher had been able to run a few more races this season, he probably would have been right up there points-wise with Yackey and Mondeik,” Roberts stated. “He dominated the Maritime Pro Stock Series again and picked up a PASS North victory on his home turf against some tough runners from ‘south of the border.’ Cole is really one to keep an eye at the Snowball Derby this year – he’s always in the mix wherever he’s running. The work Cole did with various charities in Nova Scotia this season was pretty remarkable. He really upped his game over 2017 and we were so proud to have him back in the mix again this year.
“Justin Carroll was definitely the hard luck competitor in this year’s class,” said Roberts. “He had a lot of strong runs ruined by mechanical issues and accidents not of his making. When he was able to put it all together, he was really strong, winning big races against tough competition at Ace Speedway and pulling out a top-10 finish in the Valley Star 300 in Martinsville against some the best Late Model Stock Car drivers in the country.
“Brittney Zamora again showed she was the Super Late Model driver to beat in the Pacific Northwest, picking up her second consecutive Northwest Super Late Model Series points championship,” Roberts said. “She was consistent all year long and definitely deserved a chance to test a K&N car. We all have our fingers crossed that she becomes part of the Toyota Racing Development pipeline.
“We are so proud of Derek Griffith for picking up the 2018 PASS National Championship,” said Roberts. “Our competition goes from April 1st through October 31st and that certainly worked against him. Derek won two races as part of the Kulwicki season, but picked up a big PASS win in March and clearly carried that success and consistency to the points championship that he claimed after our competition was over. It is quite an honor for him and we hope that he can parlay that into even greater success in 2019.
“Despite having hardships on the track this season, Molly Helmuth was a tremendous asset to our Kulwicki program all year long,” Roberts said. “She was a fantastic presence on social media, promoted Alan’s story to thousands of fans at the race track and really was so effective in getting our message out. Like Justin Carroll, Molly had her share of bad luck, too, but we are especially proud of the strong runs she had in CARS Tour Super Late Model racing.”
The 2018 seven-driver KDDP team combined for 32 wins and 91 top-five finishes during the seven months of competition.
“This year’s group of drivers really stepped up to the plate when it came to getting the job done on the track, that’s for sure,” said Roberts. “When you take into consideration how few races some of the competitors ran, the total statistics they accumulated are remarkable.”
The final 2018 KDDP competition (on-track) points (in races from 4/1/18 through 10/31/18) look like this: (points & number of races/wins/top-5s/top-10s)
Brett Yackey - 142 (31/13/24/27)
Justin Mondeik - 110 (43/5/23/34)
Justin Carroll - 104 (22/5/12/19)
Cole Butcher - 96 (15/5/11/13)
Brittney Zamora - 86 (21/2/9/19)
Derek Griffith - 86 (21/2/9/15)
Molly Helmuth - 40 (14/0/3/5)
“Our drivers did such a sensational job on and off the track this season and our board members did the absolute best job possible in their evaluations throughout the year,” said Roberts. “When you are dealing with seven drivers racing all across North America, sometimes it’s like comparing apples to oranges in many aspects. I personally applaud our board for being able to continuously maintain an all-encompassing overall perspective in the judging process. They did an absolutely amazing job.
"When we look back on the 2018 season, we think this class has set the bar for all the future participants in our program when it comes to overall synergy displayed,” Roberts said. “We’ve been so active in the effort to get Alan voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame since our first season back in 2015. This group of drivers took it on as a personal goal in supporting the cause and they’ll always be able to boast that they proudly wore Alan’s colors during the year that he was voted in.”
Yackey becomes the first KDDP champion hailing from west of the Mississippi River. He joins Ty Majeski of Seymour, Wisconsin (2015), Alex Prunty of Lomira, Wisconsin (2016) and Cody Haskins of Marietta, Georgia (2017), as the organization’s fourth title winner.
Yackey and the other six members of the 2018 KDDP class will be honored during the KDDP’s annual banquet set for Thursday, Dec. 13 in the Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Highlighting the activities for the evening (on the eve of what would have been Alan Kulwicki’s 64th birthday) will be the presentation of the winner’s check for $54,439 and the special KDDP “Kulwicki Cup” champion’s trophy to Yackey. Official media partner Speed51.com will offer a free live-streaming broadcast of the event.
While the 2018 season is over, drivers can start applying for the 2019 Kulwicki Driver Development Program today. Please visit www.kulwickiddp.com for the application and additional information. All applications are due on December 31, 2018.
-Kuwlicki Driver Development Program Press Release