Concord, N.C. – With only five weekends of competition remaining in the battle for the rich and prestigious 2018 Kulwicki Cup, things are happening fast out there. The seven racers in the Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) are pushing hard to finish the season strong and make a powerful impression on the program’s voting board members who will ultimately decide the champion.
The first point standings – released exclusively on Speed51.com early last month – showed Wisconsin’s Justin Mondeik and Colorado’s Brett Yackey ahead of the pack. Both drivers have been incredibly consistent during the second half of the season and each excels off the track as well. To date, Yackey has tabulated the most victories (11 total wins) at I-25 Speedway and Colorado National Speedway, where he scored his first career Super Late Model win on September 22. Mondeik has not visited Victory Lane since mid-July, but has been very consistent in Super Late Model competition. He finished second in a Wisconsin Challenge Series race at the hyper-competitive Dells Raceway Park two weeks ago and was running well in the TUNDRA Series finale last weekend when he put into the wall by a fellow competitor.
With the season winding down, very few chances to impress the board remain, but both drivers remain committed to finishing strong.
“We only have five races left, but we will be doing at least three community events each week, as we have all year,” said Mondeik. “Our schedule is pretty tight with a full slate of classes at Michigan Tech, but we will keep pushing. One of our big goals remaining is to finish as high as possible in the Midwest Tour points. With only Oktoberfest at La Crosse remaining, we’re ninth in the standings, but only 15 points out of seventh. That’s a huge weekend, a very high-profile event, where we hope to be performing at our very best.”
“Overall, we’ve had a very good season,” Yackey said. “We’ve been knocking on the door for quite a while now and it felt so good to get our breakthrough win in the Super Late Models at Colorado National. I’ve been extremely busy with my racing, community service activities and going to school (student at University of Northern Colorado this year & transferring to Colorado State in 2019, pursuing an engineering degree). We still have quite a bit of racing remaining on our schedule this year. There’s the huge ‘challenge cup’ 100-lap race for the Supers at CNS and we’re planning on heading down to Tucson a couple of times to race during October.”
If not the hottest driver in the program over the last few weeks, Washington’s Brittney Zamora has been at least the most decorated. Toyota Racing Development (TRD) selected Zamora to compete in a driver combine with other young racers from a variety of disciplines, including USAC star Tanner Carrick. The trip to Irwindale (CA) Speedway was well worth it for the Washington State University Education major, earning one win and transferring to the championship race where she finished second. Her performance earned her three races with TRD who will evaluate Zamora’s performance and see if she fits into the program’s 2019 plans.
“I love racing against people who are more experienced, or at least have different experiences than me,” said Zamora. “It just makes me better overall. I really enjoyed the opportunity to go to the combine at Irwindale and participate. I really appreciate my friends at Toyota inviting me. Hopefully, they were pleased with my efforts.”
Zamora was recently named the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (NWAAS) Rookie of the Year for 2018 based on her strong performances at Evergreen Speedway. Last weekend, Zamora closed out the Northwest Super Late Model Series (NWSLMS) season the way she did in 2017 with a victory at the Wenatchee Valley Super Oval and the series points championship.
“It was awesome to repeat in 2018,” said the Kennewick, Washington native. “We originally didn’t plan on running the whole season with the NWSLMS, but we won the second race and decided to stick with it. It is a tough group to run with and quite an accomplishment for our team.”
The Kulwicki program boasts another repeat champion as Porter’s Lake, Nova Scotia’s Cole Butcher picked up the 2018 Maritime Pro Stock Tour championship, his second in three years. Last year, Butcher lost the title by one point after skipping a race to compete in the Oxford 250. Butcher has five wins to his credit this season, including an early season PASS North victory. He will be heading back to the states in the fall, racing at Oxford Plains in October, and is again making plans to run the Snowball Derby in December.
“It has been a very good season for us this year,” said Butcher, who was a strong third in the first Kulwicki Cup standings this year. “After what happened last year on the Pro Stock Tour, we were determined to not let another championship slip away like that. We wound up winning four of the tour races this year and came away with another championship. I’m really proud of our team for keeping all the winning momentum going the whole season long. We’ve been really active away from the track, also, and hope the KDDP board members are proud of the job we’ve done out there representing them.”
With the season coming to a close, the seven Kulwicki drivers all continue to engage with their fans at the track and on social media, and are playing significant roles in making their communities better.
“All seven of our drivers have seen some success on the track, but all of them have been champions off the track,” said KDDP Executive Director Tom Roberts. “From working with veterans’ groups and the elderly, to raising money for charity and collecting school supplies for needy students, this group has embraced what the Kulwicki program is all about. Our board is going to have a heck of a time trying to decide who our 2018 champion will be.”
The 2018 season marks the fourth 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 next points update is scheduled for the second week in October. The final voting is scheduled for the first week in November, with the 2018 KDDP “Kulwicki Cup” Champion expected to be announced on November 15. The champion and all the other competitors will be honored at the organization’s annual banquet held in December at The Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
As always, all the news about the KDDP can be found first on Speed51.com, the organization’s official media partner.
We invite you to follow each of our drivers on Twitter for their timely updates of activities on and off the track:
Cole Butcher (@colebutcher1); Justin Carroll (@toast57); Molly Helmuth (Molly_Helmuth90); Justin Mondeik (@JustinMondeik44); Brett Yackey (@brett_yackey) and Brittney Zamora (@brittz52).
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.
-Kulwicki Driver Development Program Press Release
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / John A. Miller