CONCORD, N.C. – After several weeks of reviewing an impressive group of applicants for the 2017 Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP), the organization’s advisory board has chosen 15 semifinalists. These drivers will now participate in interview sessions, culminating with the selection of a seven-driver roster that will represent the KDDP this season and compete for the prestigious annual Kulwicki Cup.

 

300x250 51 Network 2017(2)The seven selected drivers 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 unique trophy.  Seymour, Wisconsin’s Ty Majeski was the 2015 Kulwicki Cup winner during the inaugural year for the program and Lomira, Wisconsin’s Alex Prunty claimed the 2016 title.

 

“The process to select our 2017 KDDP driver lineup has already required some extremely difficult choices by our board members,” said KDDP executive director Tom Roberts. “There were more than 25 different drivers who received votes during the initial round of judging and the board did a fantastic job in narrowing it down to 15 semifinalists. They certainly face an incredible task in selecting just seven drivers out of this group to carry the KDDP colors and compete for the Kulwicki Cup this season.

 

“A fact that the board members agreed on after reviewing all the applications was that asphalt short-track late model racing has a very healthy future,” said Roberts. “There were many drivers not selected who will definitely be qualified candidates for our program in the next few seasons. The top-15 this year range in age from 16 to 25 and the average age is 20.3 years. We had numerous applicants who were 16 or younger. We urge them all to get another year of experience under their belts and apply again for our 2018 program next December.”

 

The 15 KDDP semifinalists for 2017 include, in alphabetical order:

 

WYATT ALEXANDER, 17, ELLSWORTH, MAINE
2016 - Winner, Dave Farrington, Jr. Scholarship in Honor of Alan Kulwicki (given to HS student with plans on studying engineering in college)
2015 - Boss Hogg 100 feature winner at Wiscasset (ME) Speedway

 

BRAISON BENNETT, 21, NEENAH, WISCONSIN
2016 - TUNDRA Series - Rookie of the Year
2016 - Wisconsin International Raceway - late model series champion
2016 - Wisconsin International Raceway - Red, White, and Blue late model series champion
2015 - Golden Sands (WI) Speedway - SLM Rookie of the Year

 

JESSE BERNHAGEN, 23, MARKESAN, WISCONSIN
2016 - 5 late model feature wins, including multiple wins at Dells (WI) Raceway Park

 

COLE BUTCHER, 18, PORTER’S LAKE, NOVA SCOTIA
2016 - Maritime Pro Stock Series - season champion, 3 feature wins
2016 - Atlantic Cat 250 feature winner at Scotia Speedworld

 

JUSTIN CARROLL, 20, CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA
2016 - Hickory (NC) Motor Speedway - back-to-back LMSC feature wins

 

DEREK GRIFFITH, 20, HUDSON, NEW HAMPSHIRE
2016 - Pro All Stars (PASS) North Series - 7th place, 1 feature win, 4 top fives
2016 - Oktoberfest feature winner at Lee USA (NH) Speedway
2016 - DAV Fall Classic feature winner at Seekonk (NH) Speedway

 

CODY HASKINS, 25, MARIETTA, GEORGIA
2016 - Kulwicki Driver Development Program Finalist - 6th place
2016 - 11 top fives in NWAAS Late Model Stock Car series

 

ANDY JONES, 23, GURNEE, ILLINOIS
3 career Midwest Truck Series feature wins
Multiple-time Legends Car champion at Grundy County (IL) Speedway and Madison (WI) International Speedway

 

JUSTIN MONDEIK, 20, GLEASON, WISCONSIN
2016 - Golden Sands (WI) Speedway, Marshfield (WI) Super Speedway, and State Park (WI) Speedway - SLM Rookie of the Year
2015 - State Park (WI) Speedway - late model track champion

 

HALEY MOODY, 22, KINSTON, NORTH CAROLINA
2015 - NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver of the Year
2014 - Southern National (NC) Motorsports Park - late model track champion and ROY

 

AUSTIN NASON, 21, ROSCOE, ILLINOIS
2016 - ARCA Midwest Tour - 8th place
2016 - Kulwicki Driver Development Program Semi-Finalist
2015 - ARCA Midwest Tour - 4th place, Rookie of the Year

 

MICHAEL OSTDIEK, 19, LAKEVILLE, MINNESOTA
2016 - Kulwicki Driver Development Program Finalist - 3rd place
2016 - Big 8 Series - 2nd place, 1 feature win
2016 - NWAAS Division II - 3rd place; 4 feature wins at Elko (MN) Speedway

 

JOHN PETERS, 20, WESTBROOK, MAINE
2016 - Beech Ridge (ME) Motor Speedway - 8th place, 1 feature win
2016 - Kulwicki Driver Development Program Semi-Finalist

 

LOGAN RUNYON, 20, CAMBRIDGE, OHIO
2016 - Columbus (OH) Motor Speedway - 4th place, Most Improved Driver

 

BRETT YACKEY, 16, GREELEY, COLORADO
2016 - Colorado National Speedway late model track champion
2016 - Colorado State Rookie of the Year, NWAAS Division 1

 

The interviewing process of these drivers will occur during the next few weeks.  After a final review and vote by the advisory board, the 2017 KDDP team of seven drivers is expected to be announced on Monday, March 20. The competition for the 2017 Kulwicki Cup begins on April 1 and runs through October 31.

 

-Kulwicki Driver Development Program Press Release

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Semifinalists Announced for 2017 Kulwicki Driver Development Program