CONCORD, N.C. – The seven drivers who will represent the Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) for the 2020 racing season will come from a diverse group of 15 semifinalists that were announced on Monday morning’s edition of Speed51.com’s “The Bullring.” The drivers range in age from 15 to 23 years of age and represent nine different states and one Canadian province.
“The process to select our 2020 KDDP driver lineup has already required some extremely difficult choices by our advisory board members,” said KDDP executive director Tom Roberts. “There were more than 30 different drivers who received votes during the initial round of judging and the board did a fantastic job in narrowing it down to 15 semifinalists. They certainly face an incredible task in selecting just seven drivers out of this group to carry the KDDP colors and compete for the Kulwicki Cup this season.
“The desire to be a KDDP driver continues to grow in the short track racing world each year and I think this distinct group of semifinalists certainly reflects that,” Roberts said. “The quantity of applicants for our 2020 program was very impressive, but it was the quality of competitors who applied that was most striking to me. We had numerous track and series champions among those who didn’t make our semifinalist list this time around.
“Our board members did an absolutely incredible job in choosing these 15 semifinalists,” said Roberts. “I would have welcomed any of the applicants that the board considered into the group. While they were able to narrow it down to these 15 drivers, there were at least another 30 who would have been quality candidates for the seven finalist spots for our 2020 program.”
The 15 KDDP semifinalists for 2020 include, in alphabetical order: (Twitter & Highlights)
Wyatt Alexander, 20, Ellsworth, Maine - @WAlexander_96
Youngest ever champion of Wiscasset Speedway’s Boss Hogg 100
Danny Benedict, 23, Kawartha Lakes, Ontario, Canada - @Dannybenedict54
2019 KDDP Finalist, 2018 Provincial NASCAR Whelen All American Series Champion
Jackson Boone, 19, Franklin, Tennessee - @jacksonboone7
2019 Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway Pro Late Model Champion
RJ Braun, 19, Wales, Wisconsin -
2019 Big 8 Rookie of the Year, 2019 Slinger Speedway SLM Rookie of the Year
Chad Butz, 20, Howard, Wisconsin - @ButzCbr8
Youngest Super Late Model winner in Norway Speedway (Michigan) history at the age of 15
Luke Fenhaus, 15, Wausau, Wisconsin - @luke_fenhaus
2019 KDDP Finalist, 2018 State Park Speedway SLM track champion, five feature victories
Marcel Gravel, 23, Wolcott, Vermont - @Gravel86Marcel
2017 Milk Bowl pole position winner & all time Thunder Road track record holder
Austin Herzog, 17, Clovis, California - @Austin11Herzog
2019 Nut Up Pro Late Model Champion at Madera Speedway
Garrett Huffines, 18, Selah, Washington - @GarrettHuffines
2019 Fall Classic winner (Yakima Speedway) & Pro Late Model track champion
Ryan Kuhn, 20, East Bridgewater, Massachusetts –
2018 Seekonk Speedway Late Model Champion
Reilly Lanphear, 20, Duxbury, Vermont - @reillylanphear
Going full time on American Canadian Tour after racing Late Models at Thunder Road
Jacob Nottestad, 18, Cambridge, Wisconsin - @Jnottestad97
2019 Late Model Track Champion at Slinger Speedway with 9 feature wins and 9 fast times
Kole Raz, 16, Lake Oswego, Oregon - @RazKole
2019 NASCAR Whelen All American Series Arizona State Champion
Riley Stenjem, 19, Stoughton, Wisconsin - @77stenjem77
Won 2 of 3 Late Model features at 2019 Jefferson Speedway Wisconsin State Championships
Brooke Storer, 21, Land O' Lakes, Florida - @brookestorer9
2018 Auburndale Speedway Sportsman Champion, two Wheel Man Racing Series feature wins
“While I’m certain that all 15 of these young racers are thrilled to be among our semifinalists, I want to extend a special message to all of the other applicants who were not selected,” said Roberts. “Keep honing your skills on and off the track, keep chasing those checkered flags and please consider applying again for the 2021 edition of our program.
“With only seven of these 15 semifinalists advancing to be a finalist this season, that is the exact same message I’ll be giving the eight drivers who don’t make it this year. Just having the distinction of being a KDDP semifinalist is truly an accomplishment in itself and something to be very proud of.
“The next step in the process to determine the 2020 KDDP class will be the interview sessions the board members will be having with each of the semifinalists,” said Roberts. “While our board will be getting to know all the semifinalists better, we encourage everyone to follow these 15 young racers on Twitter and other social media platforms. They are all outstanding young racers who have already accomplished a great deal in their brief careers.”
Driver interviews will take place from March 10 through March 12. After a final review and vote by the advisory board, the 2020 KDDP team of seven drivers is expected to be announced live on the Monday, March 30 edition of Speed51.com’s “The Bullring.”
The seven selected drivers will each receive a one-time stipend of $7,777 to cover operational expenses. The organization will work to provide the drivers assistance in important aspects such as publicity, marketing, sponsorship development and industry networking during the season as they compete for the “grand prize.” The Kulwicki Cup winner will pick up an additional check worth seven times the initial award ($7,777 x 7 = $54,439) and a special unique trophy. Seymour, Wisconsin’s Ty Majeski was the 2015 Kulwicki Cup winner during the inaugural year for the program. Lomira, Wisconsin’s Alex Prunty claimed the 2016 title and Marietta, Georgia's Cody Haskins was the 2017 KDDP Champion. Brett Yackey, from Greeley, Colorado, claimed the 2018 Kulwicki Cup and Upper Lake, California’s Jeremy Doss earned the 2019 crown.
The Kulwicki Cup competition goes from April 1 through Oct. 31. The contest’s points system is based on a combination of judging input from members of the advisory board and the drivers’ on-track performance. Drivers are given points for both their success in chasing checkered flags and for community engagement, program representation and social media activities.
The KDDP urges you to keep up with all of its news and activities by regularly visiting Speed51.com, the organization’s official media partner.
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For additional information on the Kulwicki Driver Development Program, please visit the official website at www.kulwickiddp.com. Please follow us on Twitter at @KulwickiDDP and be looking for our possible expansion to other social media platforms.
About the KDDP:
The Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) was established in 2014 by the family of late NASCAR Champion and Hall of Fame member Alan Kulwicki for the purpose of helping worthy drivers toward reaching their dreams while at the same time keeping Alan’s memory and legacy alive. The Program provides drivers with financial assistance along with support in publicity, marketing, sponsorship development, industry networking and relationship building. Based in Concord, N.C., the KDDP is a non-profit organization with the mission of playing a significant role in developing the next era of America’s short-track racers while educating new generations about the life, passion and values of the 1992 NASCAR Champion.
-Kulwicki Driver Development Program Press Release