CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 14, 2021) – The battle for the 2021 Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) Kulwicki Cup Award is showcasing promising young “future stars” in racing, as Wausau, Wisconsin’s Luke Fenhaus leads Napa, California’s Dylan Zampa after the second segment balloting has been completed. The pair of incredibly talented 17-year-old drivers are pacing the seven-member team of Kulwicki competitors heading into the final month of the 2021 competition.
“Our voting board members have been so impressed with our 2021 class for their outstanding accomplishments on and off the track,” said KDDP Executive Director Tom Roberts. “Luke and Dylan both came straight out of the box with all guns blazing back in April and they haven’t let up all season long.
“It’s been quite stunning to watch them along the way,” Roberts said. “Luke wound up winning the Slinger Nationals and took the Slinger Speedway Super Late Model track championship, while Dylan was establishing himself as perhaps the brightest young racing star in the last decade on the West Coast. Dylan’s progress this season has been outstanding and he actually leads all the drivers in competition points.
“Both drivers…actually all seven members of our 2021 KDDP team…have done such an admirable job in representing our organization and Alan on and off the track this year,” said Roberts.
At of the end of the second reporting period (on September 30), here’s how the point standings look:
1st – Luke Fenhaus – 1,106
2nd – Dylan Zampa – 968
3rd – Wyatt Alexander – 789
4th – Ryan Kuhn – 630
5th – Kole Raz – 478
6th – Max Kahler – 450
7th – Brooke Storer – 193
With only the month of October remaining to be considered in the battle for the 2021 Kulwicki Cup Championship, both on-track and off-track activities are as important as ever in the six-year history of the Kulwicki Driver Development Program.
* * *
The second segment judging period concluded on September 30 and here is a look at the voting board members’ evaluations and commentary taken from their Tuesday, Sept. 28 pre-voting conference call:
“LUKE FENHAUS has had a tremendous season and has represented our program so well. Winning the Slinger Nationals is a career highlight, but to earn a spot racing against Tony Stewart and others in the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX), nearly winning the race, and turning so many heads, was tremendous. Picking up the track title at Slinger makes the year even more special. Luke has been very active in his community throughout the summer, and each time he is at the track, there is more and more Luke Fenhaus fan apparel in the stands.”
“DYLAN ZAMPA has had a really great second half of the season, picking up five wins at All American Speedway since July 1, including a big Spears SRL Southwest Tour Pro Late Model race, besting our former champion Jeremy Doss and other top runners. Everyone is pointing to him as possibly the brightest star on the rise from the West Coast. His off the track and social media engagement has been top notch as well. Seeing Dylan’s advancement this season should be inspirational for all aspiring young racers out there. This young man is doing everything the right way.”
“Sticking pretty close to home, WYATT ALEXANDER has been great at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway this year, running consistently in the top 10 and winning three times. We don’t know if his last win was the “last” race at Beech Ridge or not, but he bested an absolutely stellar field of 32 cars, including former Oxford 250 and PASS North winners. Wyatt should be very proud of what he accomplished this year, including winning the NASCAR Weekly Series Northeast Region Rookie of the Year.”
“If the Kulwicki program has a “Mr. Consistency” this year, it has to be RYAN KUHN. He ran so well at his home track, Seekonk Speedway, and competed against the best in the region when he stepped up to race in the Granite State Pro Stock Series and in PASS North competition. Despite all of his top fives, he wasn’t able to break into victory lane, but credit to him and the team for not getting frustrated, Ryan is poised for a big 2022 and we look forward to seeing what he can do.”
“If anyone ever needed the ‘golden horseshoe.’ it is KOLE RAZ. Running for a top team in the Spears SRL Southwest Tour and working with the legendary Jefferson family back home in the Pacific Northwest, Kole has been fast nearly every time out, but mechanical gremlins and on-track incidents have kept him from having a very strong year. He finally broke through with a big Super Late Model win at Hermiston Raceway in September, and is hoping to finish out the SRL campaign with some strong runs. We’re watching closely and cheering him on.”
“MAX KAHLER has fought through a lot of adversity on and off the track this year. His first full year running Super Late Models has been a struggle as his small team tries to figure out the mechanical side of things. Max also dealt with a COVID-19 diagnosis back in the late summer, too. He still enjoyed some ‘home cooking’ at Rockford Speedway, picking up two wins since July 1 and consistently running in the top five. His work with the Compassion Closet in his hometown has been admirable, and he is a great young man that represents Alan’s legacy so well.”
“If 2020 was a dream season for BROOKE STORER, 2021 has been somewhat of a nightmare for the incredibly popular Florida driver whose fan base continues to blossom. Despite the long hours Brooke and her dad have put in, bad luck has seemingly been around every corner and has kept them from representing the program at the track as much as she would have liked. She still has a couple of races remaining this year to shine. Brooke has kept a positive attitude throughout the year and continues to excel off the track in her involvement with the Pets for Patriots non-profit group.”
* * *
As of this period’s cutoff date (September 30), only one driver (Brooke Storer) has competed in less than 15 races. The current 2021 KDDP competition (on-track) points look like this: (points, wins, top-5s, top-10s & number of races):
POINTS TABULATED FROM EACH DRIVER’S BEST 15 FINISHES (as of 9/30/21):
- Dylan Zampa – 114
6 wins, 15 top 5s, 15 top 10s
- Luke Fenhaus – 102
3 wins, 15 top 5s, 15 top 10s
- Wyatt Alexander – 96
3 wins, 12 top 5s, 15 top 10s
- Ryan Kuhn – 86
0 wins, 13 top 5s, 15 top 10s
- Max Kahler – 67
2 wins, 7 top 10s, 9 top 10s
18 races* (not including 3 Midwest Tour/TUNDRA DNQs and 1 tech DQ at Rockford)
- Kole Raz – 64
1 win, 6 top 5s, 10 top 10s
- Brooke Storer – 38
0 wins, 3 top 5s, 6 top 10s
* * *
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 (based on each driver’s best 15 race finishes). 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.
During the annual competition, two regular season rounds of judging points are averaged (however, bonus points continue to accrue) and added to a final round of voters’ judging points. The overall competition points (maximum 150 points for 15 wins) are applied and the driver with the largest points total will be the Kulwicki Cup Champion.
When the KDDP Advisory Board members reconvene early next month, they will cast their final votes which will award one of these 2021 drivers a check for $54,439 and the unique and prestigious Kulwicki Cup champion’s trophy that goes with it. They will join the illustrious list of KDDP champions which includes Ty Majeski (inaugural 2015 season), Alex Prunty (2016), Cody Haskins (2017), Brett Yackey (2018) and Jeremy Doss (2019). There was no 2020 program due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I want to extend a special thanks to all of our KDDP board members for continuing to do such an exemplary job during the voting process,” said Roberts. “They are totally professional in their evaluations and I have so much personal respect for all of them.
“The final few weeks of our competition this season promise to be very interesting,” Roberts said. “All the drivers are so personally competitive and want to finish as high up in the final standings as possible. They’ve all been outstanding when it comes to representing our program and have been such a pleasure to work with. Several of them have told me how much they’ve enjoyed being on the KDDP team and if they don’t win the Kulwicki Cup this year they hope to return as members of our 2022 class.
“All of the drivers have been so supportive of each other throughout the season and their camaraderie has been very impressive,” added Roberts. “They are all winners on and off the track. We’re really looking forward to getting them all together in Charlotte in December for our annual KDDP awards banquet and celebrate Alan’s birthday and the great season we’ve had.”
* * *
The 2021 season marked the sixth full year for the KDDP as the program was on hiatus last year due to the pandemic. 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 final voting is targeted for the first week in November, with the 2021 KDDP “Kulwicki Cup” Champion expected to be announced on Thursday, November 14, exclusively on Speed51.com. The champion and all the other competitors will be honored at the organization’s annual awards banquet, scheduled for Thursday, December 9, in The Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway (live on Speed51.TV).
The KDDP urges you to keep up with all of its news and activities by regularly visiting Speed51.com, the organization’s official media partner.