CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 11, 2019) – In what is shaping up to be the closest battle in the Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) history, the month of October will determine the winner of the rich and prestigious Kulwicki Cup Championship for 2019. After two of three judging/voting periods, Concord, North Carolina’s Justin Carroll leads Upper Lake, California’s Jeremy Doss by eight points (1,043-1,035).
As of the end of the second reporting period on September 30, here’s how the point standings look:
1st - Justin Carroll - 1,043
2nd - Jeremy Doss - 1,035
3rd - Derek Griffith - 813
4th - Luke Fenhaus - 697
5th - Danny Benedict - 565
6th - Carson Kvapil - 262
7th - Paul Shafer Jr. - 248
With only the month of October remaining to be considered in the battle for the 2019 Kulwicki Cup Championship, both on-track and off-track activities are more important than ever in the five-year history of the Kulwicki Driver Development Program.
“This one is definitely going down to the wire,” said Tom Roberts, who heads the KDDP organization. “The old adage of it’s not over till it’s over is certainly the case here. When Brett Yackey led Justin Mondeik by only 42 points entering the final month last year, I figured there was no way it could be closer. Man, was I ever mistaken!
“Justin Carroll was in our program last year and he learned so much about what it takes to win the Kulwicki Cup,” Roberts said. “When he came out so strong at the beginning of the year, it really didn’t surprise me that he had a good lead in the first standings (through July 15). Jeremy Doss was a KDDP driver back in 2016 and it took him a few months to really get rolling.
“What was so evident to me during the latest standings is how much value our voters put in on-track performance and quality wins,” said Roberts. “They inquired about strength of starting fields, number of cars and quality of competition. I feel like all of that information is so important in a competition such as ours. We are so fortunate to have special smart phone racing apps which provide us that data.
“With that in mind, it was no surprise to see Derek Griffith on such an upward climb in our points,” Roberts said. “Derek got on a winning streak in the tough PASS North competition and really beefed up his off-track activities. The latest standings certainly reflect that.
“Not only have our drivers been getting the job done on the track this season, their community service activities have been extremely impressive,” said Roberts. “Their methods of paying tribute to Alan have been so unique and well appreciated and the manner in which they reinforce those activities with social media has been exceptional.
“While it looks like Justin, Jeremy and Derek have separated themselves from the others, it will be very interesting to see what Luke Fenhaus, Danny Benedict, Pauly Shafer and Carson Kvapil have up their sleeves for the final weeks. I’m sure they’ll continue to be active out there in gaining attention to our program, while also increasing their points in our final standings.”
As of this period’s cutoff date (September 30), only Paul Shafer, Jr. and Carson Kvapil have competed in less than 15 races (although both topped that number this past weekend at Oktoberfest). The current 2019 KDDP competition (on-track) points look like this: (points & number of races/wins/top-5s/top-10s)
Jeremy Doss - 126 (18/9/17/18)
Justin Carroll - 114 (28/6/16/20)
Derek Griffith - 97 (19/5/11/13)
Danny Benedict - 94 (25/2/13/20)
Luke Fenhaus - 90 (22/2/11/16)
Paul Shafer, Jr. - 46 (14/1/3/7)
Carson Kvapil - 38 (14/0/3/6)
The KDDP points system is based on a combination of judging input from members of the advisory board and the drivers’ on-track performance. Voters are asked to rank the drivers from first to seventh in their job of representing the organization and points (from 70 for first to 10 for seventh) are awarded for those rankings. Each voter is given 10 discretionary “bonus” points to award the drivers for “exceptional contributions” to the program. Community engagement, program representation and social media activities account for much of those points. The remainder of the points come from actual racing statistics (based on each driver’s best 15 race finishes Race wins award 10 points, with 2nd-5th-place finishes getting 6 points, 6th-10th 4 points, 11th-15th 2 points and 15th-plus 1 point.
During the annual competition, two regular season rounds of judging points are averaged (however, bonus points continue to accrue) and added to a final round of voters’ judging points. The overall competition points (maximum 150 points for 15 wins) are applied and the driver with the largest points total will be the Kulwicki Cup Champion.
When the KDDP Advisory Board members reconvene early next month, they will cast their final votes which will award one of these 2019 drivers a check for $54,439 and the unique and prestigious Kulwicki Cup champion’s trophy that goes with it. They will join the illustrious list of KDDP champions which also includes Ty Majeski (inaugural 2015 season), Alex Prunty (2016), Cody Haskins (2017) and Brett Yackey (2018).
“I want to extend a special thanks to all of our KDDP board members for continuing to do such an exemplary job during the voting process,” said Roberts. “They continue to be totally professional in their evaluations and I have so much personal respect for all of them. I also want to give a ton of credit to all of our former champions for their input and valuable insight.
“The final few weeks of our competition this season promise to be the most exciting in our program’s history,” Roberts said. “These drivers are outstanding when it comes to representing our program and no matter who comes out on top, we’re guaranteed to have a fantastic champion.
“All of the drivers have been so supportive of each other throughout the season and their camaraderie has been so impressive,” added Roberts. “They are all winners on and off the track. We’re really looking forward to getting them all together in Charlotte in December for our annual KDDP awards banquet and celebrate what would have been Alan’s 65thbirthday.”
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The 2019 season marks the fifth full year for the KDDP. The seven drivers receive a one-time stipend of $7,777 to cover operational expenses. The organization works 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.
The Kulwicki Cup competition runs from April 1 through October 31. The final voting is targeted for the first week in November, with the 2019 KDDP “Kulwicki Cup” Champion expected to be announced on Thursday, November 14. The champion and all the other competitors will be honored at the organization’s annual awards banquet, scheduled for Thursday, December 12, in The Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
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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We invite you to follow each of our seven 2019 KDDP drivers on Twitter for their timely updates of activities on and off the track: DANNY BENEDICT, KAWARTHA LAKES, ONT (@DannyBenedict54); JUSTIN CARROLL, CONCORD, NC (@toast57);JEREMY DOSS, UPPER LAKE, CA (@jeremydoss75); LUKE FENHAUS, WAUSAU, WI (@luke_fenhaus); DEREK GRIFFITH, HUDSON, NH (@DerekGriffith12); CARSON KVAPIL, MOORESVILLE, NC (@Carson_Kvapil) & PAUL SHAFER, JR., PORTAGE, IN (@ShaferRacing7).
For additional information on the Kulwicki Driver Development Program, please visit the official website at www.kulwickiddp.comand follow us on Twitter at @KulwickiDDP. Tom Roberts is on Twitter at @22carPR and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/tom.roberts.39904181.
About the KDDP:
The Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) was established in 2014 by the family of late NASCAR Champion 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.
Tom Roberts – [email protected]– (256) 508-2595
Jeff Kollath – [email protected]– (608) 516-0448
Jan Beatty – [email protected]– (704) 262-2345
Mark Horn – [email protected]– (704) 331-3540