CONCORD, N.C. – The battle for the 2017 Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) “Kulwicki Cup” is shaping up to be the closest in the organization’s history. In this season’s first voting report by board members, Lakeville, Minnesota’s Michael Ostdiek leads Marietta, Georgia’s Cody Haskins by a mere two-point margin, 454 to 452. Greeley, Colorado’s Brett Yackey is a close third with 425 points.
“The KDDP points are so tight and I think it’s indicative of the hard work our seven drivers have been doing out there so far this season,” said KDDP executive director Tom Roberts. “The fact that five of the seven drivers received first-place votes speaks volumes about the competitive environment for our program this year. All seven drivers scored bonus points this time around.
“Unlike our two prior seasons when a couple of drivers seemed to distance themselves from the rest from the early going, all the drivers are definitely still in contention to win the Kulwicki Cup,” Roberts said. “Some of our drivers are just now getting up to full stride and it’s going to be really interesting to see what happens in the next couple of months.”
Here are the current Kulwicki Driver Development (KDDP) point standings: (as of 7/30/17)
1st - Michael Ostdiek - 454
2nd - Cody Haskins - 452
3rd - Brett Yackey - 425
4th - Cole Butcher - 289
5th - Justin Mondeik - 281
6th - John Peters - 280
7th - Braison Bennett - 261
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. 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.
“When you take into consideration that each voter’s input represents a potential 60-point swing from seventh to first, it’s very evident that this year’s contest is far from being over,” Roberts said. “With our unique points system, there is still another regular season judging on tap before the final voting is held in early November.
“As a whole, this group of drivers has taken the off-track aspect of the KDDP competition to a new level,” said Roberts. “It’s so impressive to see the work these guys are doing out in their communities. Almost all of them have identified special causes to support with their time and fundraising efforts. Their activities in reaching out to children and educating new generations about Alan have been so impactful. The special throwback Kulwicki color schemes the drivers continue to unveil and run garner so much attention and fan appeal.”
Contrary to the first two seasons for the organization, when drivers such as inaugural KDDP champion Ty Majeski were racking up race wins on a regular basis, victories have been scarce for this group. At this time during the 2015 season, leader Majeski had already accrued 130 competition points.
The current 2017 KDDP competition (on-track) points look like this: (points & number of races)
Braison Bennett - 74 (15)
Cody Haskins - 72 (13)
Michael Ostdiek - 70 (15)
Brett Yackey - 64 (14)
Cole Butcher - 53 (10)
John Peters - 41 (12)
Justin Mondeik - 40 (15)
“With the on-track aspect of our KDDP competition taking into account the driver’s best 15 races, you can see that there is plenty of racing remaining,” said Roberts. “Most of the drivers have not participated in their 15 races yet, so these statistics are likely to change greatly between now and the next reporting date.
“I want to compliment our board members for their ability to take a big-picture view in the voting process,” Roberts said. “Not only have they placed value in each driver’s overall performance on and off the track, they have also taken into account the competition level in the divisions and tracks they are running. It’s a very difficult task and I applaud them for the great job they are doing.”
The Kulwicki Cup competition runs from April 1 through October 31. The next points update is scheduled for the first week in October. The final voting is scheduled for the first week in November, with the 2017 KDDP “Kulwicki Cup” Champion expected to be announced on November 15.
“With the coveted unique Kulwicki Cup trophy, plus a check for a whopping $54,439 on the line, I’m anxious to see what transpires on and off the track between now and November,” said Roberts. “We have a great group of drivers out there representing the KDDP this season and we are so proud of all of them.
“The KDDP has become the preeminent driver development program in North America and much of that is due to the tremendous support we continue to receive from our official media partner, Speed51.com,” Roberts said. “We have been blessed to have Bob Dillner and his tremendous staff riding along with us since day one and we are truly thankful.”
We invite you to follow each of our drivers on Twitter for their timely updates of activities on and off the track:
Braison Bennett (@BraisonB); Cole Butcher (@colebutcher1); Cody Haskins (@codyhaskins2); Justin Mondeik (@JustinMondeik44); Michael Ostdiek (@MichaelLOstdiek); John Peters (@JPeters51) and Brett Yackey (@brett_yackey).
For additional information on the Kulwicki Driver Development Program, please visit the official website at www.kulwickiddp.com. Catch us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/KDDP/435099609983775?ref=hl and follow us on Twitter at @KulwickiDDP.
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.
-Kulwicki Driver Development Program Press Release