With the 2015 short track racing season now well under way, the Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) has released its initial “Kulwicki Cup” point standings. Seven competitors from across the nation are competing this year for the inaugural award that will pay one driver a $54,439 bonus at a special banquet in Charlotte this December.
Ty Majeski, the defending ARCA Midwest Series champion, who has already won five races this season, is the early points leader.
“I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone that Ty Majeski is our ‘Kulwicki Cup’ points leader this early in the season,” said KDDP executive director Tom Roberts. “Ty is off to an incredible start this year. In 12 races, he has already won five times. Those wins have come on five different race tracks. Maybe most impressive is the fact that he has finished no worse than 11th anywhere he has raced so far.
“Ty has emerged as one of the hottest drivers on the short tracks of America today,” Roberts continued. “His star is on the rise. I will be surprised if he isn’t offered the opportunity to drive for one of the major NASCAR teams in the next few months.
“But since the competition end of our points system is based on a driver’s 15 best finishes this season, it is way too early to count any of our drivers out as far as the ‘Kulwicki Cup’ goes,” added Roberts. “Some of the competitors have run in only a handful of races so far and their opportunity to accrue points will grow as the season progresses.”
The current 2015 Kulwicki Cup point standings (as of 6/11/15): Ty Majeski-149; Steve Apel-108; Reagan May-95; Justin Crider-65; Dave Farrington Jr.-63; Bryce Napier-58 and Cole Williams-27.
The KDDP points system is based on a combination of judging input from members of the advisory board and the drivers’ on-track performance. Board members are asked to rank the drivers from first to seventh in their job of representing the organization and points 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 the points total. 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.
Roberts discussed each of the remaining competitors’ seasons so far on an individual basis:
–Steve Apel: “Steve got quite a bit of buzz going into the season because of his prowess at Slinger, which was Alan’s home track. When he switched teams and changed his car number, he stirred up some doubt. He put that huge Alan Kulwicki Racing logo on the roof of his car and instantly gained the attention of many fans. Steve proved the doubters wrong and has emerged as a competitor who could be on his way to three consecutive Slinger track championships. He stated before the season started that his goal was to venture out and prove himself a winner on other tracks. The way he’s been running, I think he will definitely accomplish that goal.”
* * *
–Reagan May: “Reagan has taken the Kulwicki legacy to places along the unbeaten path. She has ventured to tracks in West Virginia and upstate Michigan, won races along the way and celebrated with Polish Victory Laps. She has done such an impressive job of educating others about Alan. She has absorbed the ‘Kulwicki aura’ to an incredible degree. She has improved as a top driver on the track and has become such a polished representative off the track.”
* * *
–Justin Crider – “Justin’s is one of the most impressive and heartwarming stories in short-track racing this year. He is getting closer to scoring his first big late model win. With his single car, he has emerged as a strong contender for the CARS Tour Late Model Stock Car points title. He has taken the Kulwicki spirit, used it to expand his confidence level and is finally receiving the respect he deserves out there. He is a talented young competitor who is starting to turn heads and is on his way up in our sport.”
* * *
–Dave Farrington Jr. – “Dave didn’t get off to the strong start that he’d hoped for, but he has come on really strong during the last few weeks. His big win in the Coastal 200 was special for him and certainly a big victory for the KDDP. That was such an important accomplishment for Dave personally. But for him to be able to do that Polish Victory Lap in front of a packed grandstand full of New England racing fans was so big for our organization. He has his consistency coming back at Beech Ridge now. The best part of his season is yet to come.”
* * *
–Bryce Napier – “If just representing sponsors and organizations such as ours off the track is the focus, Bryce and his family-owned team have already made a championship-caliber impact. His efforts have been so impressive that he actually received a second-place overall ranking from an advisory board member. His outgoing personality and savvy use of social media have been so impressive. His team got national attention when they brought out the old 1991 Alan Kulwicki 1991 retro Army car color scheme. We are confident that he will get some racing luck going soon and the on-track results will be there soon. He is a fantastic representative for us out on the west coast.”
* * *
–Cole Williams – “Cole’s season is really just getting under way. His deal to drive a late model stock car isn’t going to happen this year. His team is regrouping and will run more races at several tracks, in addition to defending his track championship at the historical Nashville Fairgrounds track. Cole and his team maintain a first-class look wherever they go. He is a great team player for our organization and displays that so effectively in his social media activities.”
Here is a look at points accrued so far from on-track performance:
1. Majeski – 84 pts (12 races, 5 wins)
2. Apel – 52 pts (8 races, 3 wins)
3. May – 33 pts (7 races, 2 wins)
4. Farrington – 29 pts (8 races, 1 win)
5. Crider – 14 pts (4 races)
6. Williams – 12 pts (3 races)
7. Napier – 6 pts (4 races)
* * *
Miscellaneous KDDP drivers’ season highlights & notes so far:
–In 12 races, Ty Majeski has 5 wins (at five different tracks), 10 top fives, and has finished no worse than 11th.
–In his first season as an owner-driver, Steve Apel has staked his claim to a third consecutive track championship at Slinger Speedway with three wins., and has run competitively at other regional events.
–Perhaps the finest interview subject in the KDDP, Reagan May has two early season wins in Michigan and West Virginia at tracks she visited for the very first time.
–Dave Farrington, Jr. scored an early season win in the Coastal 200 at Wiscasset Speedway in Maine, and after a slow start, has worked his way into the points lead in the Pro Series at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Maine.
–Justin Crider has two top-three finishes on the CARS Tour Late Model Stock Car division, racing against some of the toughest competition in the country. He is running bump-stops for the first time, and relying on a four-year-old chassis his family won in a raffle.
–Although the results don’t show it, Cole Williams has consistently driven to the front in each of the three races at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway this season. Williams has been active in his local community, showing his car at local schools and churches.
–If there was a hard luck award for the Kulwicki Driver Development Program, it would go to Bryce Napier. In four races, has been caught up in four wrecks. However, Bryce has dedicated so much of his time to sharing Alan’s story, visiting active duty soldiers and airmen, and participating in other community events.
The 2015 KDDP “Kulwicki Cup” point standings will be updated and released again in August and October, with the final standings made public in November.
For all the latest news in short track racing, we invite you to visit Speed51.com, the official media partner of the Kulwicki Driver Development Program. Follow them on Twitter at @speed51dotcom, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/speed51.
# # #
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.
– KDDP press release and provided photo