CONCORD, N.C. – Luke Fenhaus, a 17-year-old rising racing star from Wausau, Wisconsin, is the early leader in the 2021 Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) “Kulwicki Cup” point standings. With three months remaining to determine this year’s champion, Fenhaus leads 17-year-old Napa, California’s Dylan Zampa by 80 points (547 for Fenhaus to Zampa’s 467). The battle for third is tightening up between two of New England’s finest racers as Ellsworth, Maine’s Wyatt Alexander has 389 points to 329 points for Ryan Kuhn from East Bridgewater, Massachusetts.
At of the end of the first reporting period (from April 1 through June 30), here’s how the point standings look:
1st – Luke Fenhaus – 547
2nd – Dylan Zampa – 467
3rd – Wyatt Alexander – 389
4th – Ryan Kuhn – 329
5th – Kole Raz – 277
6th – Max Kahler – 208
7th – Brooke Storer – 100
“When our first reporting period for the 2021 season concluded, it was two of our youngest drivers setting the pace for all of this year’s fantastic finalists,” said KDDP Executive Director Tom Roberts. “Luke started the season off really strong and has been turning heads with his performances in the Midwest, while Dylan is improving every week and making quite a name for himself out on the West Coast.
“During our first five seasons, only once has a driver taken the points lead early and held it all the way to win the KDDP title,” Roberts noted. “Back during the 2015 season, Ty Majeski took the early lead and held on to claim our inaugural Kulwicki Cup crown by 22 points over runner-up Steve Apel.
“Every year since, we’ve had drivers save their best for last and come from behind to claim the Kulwicki Cup,” said Roberts. “During our most recent season back in 2019, Jeremy Doss overcame a 99-point deficit during the final half of the season to claim the title by six points over runner-up Justin Carroll.
“While Luke and Dylan are out front in the early going, I wouldn’t count anyone out just yet, especially those two New England drivers. You also have to consider that twice during our first five seasons, we’ve had drivers at the bottom of our initial standings bounce back to be podium contenders at the end of our seven months of competition.
“With our unique points system awarding the competitors for both on-track and off-track activities, it will certainly be interesting and intriguing to follow all seven of these promising young racers and cheer them on the remainder of the season.
“During our first 14 weeks of the 2021 KDDP competition, our drivers had won only three races total between them all,” said Roberts. “We’re confident that statistic is going to change drastically during the next few months.”
As of this period’s cutoff date (June 30), the number of races that each driver competed in varied from only four events up to 12. The current 2021 KDDP competition (on-track) points look like this: (points & number of races/wins/top-5s/top-10s)
Ryan Kuhn – 54 (11/0/7/10)
Wyatt Alexander – 53 (10/1/6/9)
Luke Fenhaus – 52 (12/1/6/7)
Dylan Zampa – 50 (10/1/6/7)
Kole Raz – 36 (8/0/4/6)
Max Hahler – 30 (10/0/3/4)
Brooke Storer – 16 (4/0/2/3)
With input received from all of the voting KDDP board members, Roberts offered these comments on each of the seven 2021 finalists:
Luke Fenhaus: “What can we say about Luke Fenhaus so far this season. He threw down the gauntlet early this year with a strong runner-up finish in the ARCA Midwest Tour opener and has kept the momentum up with great runs at Slinger, the Dells, and his home track of State Park Speedway. His character and his on-track performance have earned him quite a fan following. His social media and community service activities have worked well to reinforce what he’s done on the track.”
Dylan Zampa: “While all of our drivers have been working closely with charities and non-profits in their communities, Dylan has gone the extra mile, making it a part of his weekly schedule. Stepping up to run Pro Late Models in the SRL series has been a welcomed challenge and his results have been consistent. Dylan has picked up a handful of weekly shows at All American Speedway and has a checkered flag to show for it. He has the team and the skill to chase down Luke. In the second half of the season, we’ll see if he can do it.”
Wyatt Alexander: “After several years of applying to our program, Wyatt is finally a Kulwicki program finalist and we are so glad to have him. He has had a great season at Beech Ridge this year, picking up a feature win and running in the top five almost every week. We are hopeful he can keep the momentum going and branch out a bit more if his schedule allows. He has several activities planned off the track and we’re looking forward to seeing that unfold on his social media.”
Ryan Kuhn: “It is no surprise that Ryan has run well at his home track of Seekonk Speedway. We have been very impressed, though, with what Ryan has done when he steps up to run a Super Late Model with the PASS Series. He turned some heads with two top-10s at Hickory in April and he’s been showing what he can do against some of the best in the business. He has some big shows coming up later this summer and know that he has several things planned for off the track.”
Kole Raz: “Kole has had a solid season running for Sigma Racing in the Spears SRL Southwest Tour…at least when he doesn’t get bitten by the bad luck bug. We also appreciate what he has done with the Jefferson team up in the Pacific Northwest. It’s great exposure, not only for him, but also for the KDDP. His efforts working with Ayden’s Army of Angels have been tremendously successful. He’s in a tight battle for the 2021 Spears SLM rookie award and we think his breakthrough 2021 win is just around the corner.”
Max Kahler: “Max has had a tough season to date, having been stricken by COVID-19 and missing a handful of races. Stepping up to running a Super Late Model this season has been a challenge and the learning curve has been steep. He has run well in weekly races at Rockford Speedway and is surely looking forward to a more consistent second half of the season. He continues to do a ton of great charity work in his hometown and his work to document it via social media is impressive.”
Brooke Storer: “After an amazing 2020, Brooke and her team clearly expected more out of 2021. Unfortunately, bad luck and multiple rainouts have made it difficult for her to pick up any momentum. Had our KDDP program been active last season with Brooke as a finalist, she could very well be the current points leader. The Wheelman Series is one of the toughest…and roughest…racing series around today. Brooke is one of the best qualifiers out there and we are sure that her ‘never-give-up’ approach will lead to more wins anytime now. Her fanbase continues to grow and the work she does with the ‘Pets for Patriots’ cause is exceptional.”
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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.
The 2021 season marks the sixth 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 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 all seven of the 2021 KDDP finalist via Twitter. Here are their Twitter usernames (handles) in alphabetical order: WYATT ALEXANDER (@WAlexander_96); LUKE FENHAUS (@lukefenhausracing & @luke_fenhaus); MAX KAHLER (@max_kahler); RYAN KUHN (@RyanKuhnRacing); KOLE RAZ (@RazKole); BROOKE STORER (@brookestorer9) and DYLAN ZAMPA (@zampa_dylan).
For additional information on the Kulwicki Driver Development Program, please visit the official website at www.kulwickiddp.com and follow us on Twitter at @KulwickiDDP. Tom Roberts is on Twitter at @TomRobertsPR 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
-Kulwicki Driver Development Program Press Release