CONCORD, N.C. – Michael Ostdiek, a promising 18-year-old driver from Lakeville, Minnesota, has been added to the 2016 Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) roster. Ostdiek, a freshman at Iowa State University who plans on majoring in engineering or marketing, was ecstatic when he received the news over the weekend.
“Being named a member of the KDDP team and participating in their program is a dream come true for my team and me personally,” said Ostdiek, the former Great North Legends champion, Elko (Minn.) Speedway Driver of the Year and 2015 NASCAR Whelen All American Series Minnesota Rookie of the Year. “I am so excited to get this opportunity and what it means to us will make a major difference in our plans for this season.
“With the KDDP support, we’ll be adding several more races to our schedule this year,” Ostdiek said. “We’ll be running all the Big 8 Series races and now we’ll be able to add more TUNDRA events and travel to more of the ARCA Midwest Tour races. This will also now allow us to make it over to WIR (Wisconsin International Raceway near Kaukauna, Wisconsin) and compete in the Red, White and Blue Series beginning in June.
“One of the biggest aspects of the program that I know we will benefit from will come from the marketing and PR standpoint,” said Ostdiek. “There are still so many race fans out there who do not know who we are and what we are all about. Until now, what publicity we have gotten has come from whatever my family could generate. I have been pretty active on social media over the last few years, but the support from the KDDP will definitely work in our favor.
“With my family’s background in auto racing (grandfather John Ostdiek owned Elko Speedway and Raceway Park in Minnesota for several years beginning in 1976), I have always been a big student of racing history, especially in the Midwest,” Ostdiek added. “I was just an infant when my parents brought me to the race track for the first time. My dad (Dan) was a huge fan of Alan and that ZEREX color scheme he ran was one of his favorites.
"It’s a true honor to get this opportunity to be one of the KDDP drivers,” said Ostdiek. “I can’t wait to get the decals put on the car and patches put on my uniform. I was already optimistic about having a good season this year, but now I’m thinking we can have a great year out there.”
Ostdiek’s insertion into the seven-driver KDDP roster for 2016 came over the weekend when Natalie Decker opted to participate in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Martinsville Speedway. Decker chose to forego her eligibility in the program when presented with the opportunity to compete in one of NASCAR’s top three levels of competition.
“I’m hoping this turns into a win-win situation for everyone involved,” said KDDP executive director Tom Roberts. “Here we have Michael Ostdiek, who finished eighth in our board’s original voting, who will be getting the opportunity to continue to hone his skills on and off the track with our assistance. Then there’s Natalie, who has been able to already advance to the big leagues of racing without competing in a single event wearing our colors. We hope her experience over the weekend will lead to many additional chances to compete in the truck series this season and in the future.
“Our program’s objective is to help young drivers along the way and assist them in achieving their dreams,” added Roberts. “We’re still really early in the 2016 season and there is already so much positive energy developing around the KDDP. I know that Alan would be proud of the progress our organization has enjoyed and the huge impact we have made in such a short period of time.”
Ostdiek now joins the other six members of the KDDP team (Jeremy Doss, Dave Farrington Jr., Cody Haskins, Quin Houff, Alex Prunty and Brandon Setzer) in the pursuit of the 2016 Kulwicki Cup.
They will each receive a one-time stipend of $7,777 to cover operational expenses. The organization will work 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 trophy. Seymour, Wisconsin’s Ty Majeski was the 2015 Kulwicki Cup winner during last year’s inaugural competition.
The Kulwicki Cup competition goes from April 1 through October 31 and takes into consideration each driver’s top 15 races. The points are tabulated by the KDDP’s unique three-measurement system. Overall representation of the program is the first aspect, with competition points factored in. Voting board members are given “discretionary bonus points” that they can allocate for activities they feel are exceptional in representing the organization.
The Kulwicki Cup points are updated three times during the season, with this year’s points updates scheduled for June 14, August 16 and October 18. The 2016 Kulwicki Cup champion is scheduled to be announced on November 15.
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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/KDDP-435099609983775/?fref=ts 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 & supplied photo