When Ryan Kuhn makes his first two starts at Hickory Motor Speedway this weekend, he will do so under the Kulwicki Driver Development Program banner. The Massachusetts driver was named one of the seven KDDP finalists for the 2021 season last week on Speed51.TV’s “The Bullring”.
He will carry the Kulwicki name and number with him as he contests the full PASS North schedule, while making several other starts between ACT, Granite State Pro Stock Series and local Seekonk Speedway shows.
“It’s an honor to be a part of that program. To race under Alan and his name, and to have that No. 7 on my car, it’s a huge honor,” Kuhn told Speed51. “I can’t thank Tom Roberts and everyone over at Kulwicki Driver Development Program for the opportunity, and congrats to the other six drivers.”
This weekend’s twin Easter Bunny 150s will be Kuhn’s first time traveling outside the Northeast for a Late Model event. He first jumped into a Super Late Model touring series for select races with PASS and Granite State Pro Stocks in 2019 and while he has yet to win, he does have six top-fives in 15 total starts between the two series’. He was also the polesitter for the Oxford 250 back in 2019.
In that timeframe, Kuhn also competed full-time with the ACT Tour and finished third in series points in both 2019 and 2020. In 18 races, he finished outside the top-ten just four times total.
The trip to the Easter Bunny 150s will be Kuhn’s first time traveling outside of the Northeast for a Late Model event. He will be looking for his first PASS victory.
With this weekend’s races being his first time competing at Hickory, he has been leaning on help from fellow drivers in both the real and sim racing worlds to get as acclimated to the facility as he can before Thursday’s open practice.
“I’ve heard it’s rough and abrasive. I’ve gotten some information from other drivers, I know a lot of people on the iRacing world that have raced Hickory in real life and they always say it’s rough and abrasive. We’re going to be as prepared as we can be there. Huge thanks to Crazy Horse Racing, they’re going to go down there and test and release some feedback back to us and see what they can figure out down there.”
I’m just thankful for the opportunity, my dad’s the crew chief and we have a bunch of guys that mainly get paid in pit passes and food. It’s definitely a big opportunity.
His approach to the pair of races differ from Friday night’s show to Saturday’s. Friday night’s 150-lapper will give Kuhn a chance to learn the track and what he needs to make it the full distance, then Saturday will allow him the opportunity to put what he learned the night before to the test and chase after a win.
“I think the first race is going to be a big learning experience. We’ll have practice Thursday but the first race I’m really going to learn, see how much the tires wear and how conservative you have to be with tires, and really figure out the racetrack. We’re really going to go for it Saturday and hopefully we can finish up front. We’ve been strong the past couple races with the PASS tour. Hopefully we can continue the success and run competitively.”
Kuhn has just one goal in mind for this weekend’s Easter Bunny 150s. While he will like to compete for wins over the two days, he also hopes to leave North Carolina with a car that’s ready for the next PASS race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Hickory is a rough place and coming out of there in one piece and having a car left for Loudon. Hopefully we can run competitively in one piece, that’s the main goal.
Race fans unable to attend the Easter Bunny 150s will be able to watch live on Speed51.TV. Click here to order your pay-per-view ticket now.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51 National Correspondent - Twitter: @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51 Photo