CONCORD, N.C. — The seven drivers who will represent the Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) for the 2019 racing season will come from a diverse group of 21 semifinalists that were announced on this morning’s edition of Speed51.com’s “The Morning Bullring.” The drivers range in age from 14 to 23 years of age and represent 10 different states and one Canadian province.
“The desire to be a KDDP driver is paramount in the short track racing world today and I think this distinct group of semifinalists certainly reflects that,” said KDDP Executive Director Tom Roberts. “The quantity of applicants for our 2019 program was very impressive, but it was the quality of competitors who applied that was most striking to me.”
After sifting through all the numerous applications received, a preliminary examination to eliminate those unqualified for various reasons was done. Further scrutinizing narrowed the applicants to a group of 48 who received full review and consideration by the board members. There were 39 different competitors who received votes to be among the semifinalists during the board’s voting process.
“Our board members did an absolutely incredible job in choosing these 21 semifinalists,” Roberts said. “I honestly would have welcomed any of the applicants that the board considered into the group of semifinalists. While they were able to narrow it down to these 21 drivers, there were at least another 21 who would have been quality candidates for the seven finalist spots we will be filling for the 2019 season.”
The 21 KDDP semifinalists for 2019 include, in alphabetical order:
-Kendra Adams, 19, Gilford, Ontario, Canada – @2KendraAdams
2017 Provincial NASCAR Whelen All American Series Rookie of the Year
-Danny Benedict, 22, Kawartha Lakes, Ontario, Canada – @Dannybenedict54
2018 Provincial NASCAR Whelen All American Series Champion, Division 1
-Wyatt Brooks, 22, Amherst, Wisconsin – @Wyatt25Brooks
Five career super late model victories in the state of Wisconsin
-Justin Carroll, 22, Concord, North Carolina – @toastt57
2018 Kulwicki Driver Development Program, 4th place
-Kodie Conner, 18, Kannapolis, North Carolina – @KodieConner
2016 Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Model Rookie of the Year
-Kyle Crump, 23, Brighton, Michigan – @KyleCrumpRacing
Four top fives in ARCA/CRA Super Series competition in 2018
-Jeremy Doss, 22, Upper Lake, California – @jeremydoss75
2018 Spears Southwest Tour Champion, 40 career SLM victories; 2016 Kulwicki Driver Development Program, 4th place
-Luke Fenhaus, 14, Wausau, Wisconsin – @luke_fenhaus
2018 State Park Speedway SLM track champion, five feature victories
-Dylan Garner, 20, Yorba Linda, California – @DylanG_racing
2017 NASCAR Whelen All American Series national top 10, three career victories
-Grant Griesbach, 17, Waukesha, Wisconsin – @grantgriesbach
2018 Slinger Speedway, 3rd place; Fox River Racing Club Rookie of the Year
-Derek Griffith, 21, Hudson, New Hampshire – @DerekGriffith12
2018 Pro All Stars Series (PASS) National Champion; 2018 Kulwicki Driver Development Program, 6th place
-Austin Herzog, 16, Clovis, California – @Austin11Herzog-
2018 RPM Pro Late Model Series runner-up, Madera Speedway
-Hunter Jack, 18, Auburn, Indiana – @hunterjackracer
2018 ARCA/CRA Super Series, third in season points
-Austin Kunert, 19, Batavia, Illinois – @TheAustinKunert
2018 ARCA/CRA Super Series Rookie of the Year; second in season points
-Carson Kvapil, 15, Mooresville, North Carolina – @Carson_Kvapil
Scored a victory in both ARCA Midwest Tour and TUNDRA Series in 2018
-Devin O’Connell, 21, Madison, Connecticut – @_DevinOConnell
2018 Granite State Pro Stock Series champion with two victories
-Kyle Plott, 22, Pendleton, South Carolina – @KylePlott
Won a 2018 Southern Super Series race at Cordele Speedway
-Kole Raz, 15, Lake Oswego, Oregon – @RazKole
Four career victories in the Tucson Speedway Super Truck Series
-Paul Shafer, Jr., 22, Portage, Indiana – @ShaferRacing7
Won one ARCA Midwest Tour race and the Tony Bettenhausen 100 in 2018
-Colin Slife, 15, Coloma, Wisconsin – @SlifeCollin
2018 Golden Sands Speedway SLM Rookie of the Year; one career SLM victory
-Logan Zampa, 18, Napa, California – @zampaman1
Won the 2018 $10,000-to-win Short Track Shootout at Madera Speedway
“While I’m certain that all 21 of these young racers are thrilled to be among our semifinalists, I want to extend a special message to all of the other applicants who were not selected,” said Roberts. “Keep honing your skills on and off the track, keep chasing those checkered flags and please consider applying again for the 2020 edition of our program.
“With only one in three of these semifinalists advancing to be one of our seven drivers for this season, that is the exact same message I’ll be giving the 14 who don’t make it. Just having the semifinalist status is truly an accomplishment and something to be very proud of.
“Our 2018 KDDP class will always hold the notoriety and honor of carrying Alan Kulwicki’s colors during the year that he was finally voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame,” Roberts said. “As special and distinguished as that was, our 2019 class will wear Alan’s logos during the year that he was actually inducted and that may hold even greater prominence. Alan’s special Hall of Honor exhibit is something we are all so proud of. The seven drivers competing for the 2019 Kulwicki Cup will also be urging fans to visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte and enjoy celebrating Alan’s induction.
“The next step in the process to determine the 2019 KDDP class are the interview sessions the board members will be having with each of the 21 semifinalists,” said Roberts. “While our board is getting to know the semifinalists, we encourage everyone to follow these 21 young racers on Twitter and other social media platforms. They are all outstanding young people that have accomplished a great deal in their short careers.”
Driver interviews will take place from March 1 through March 8. After a final review and vote by the advisory board, the 2019 KDDP team of seven drivers is expected to be announced on Wednesday, March 20.
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. Lomira, Wisconsin’s Alex Prunty claimed the 2016 title and Marietta, Georgia’s Cody Haskins was the 2017 KDDP Champion. Brett Yackey, a third-generation racer from Greeley, Colorado, claimed the 2018 Kulwicki Cup.
The Kulwicki Cup competition goes from April 1 through Oct. 31. The contest’s points system is based on a combination of judging input from members of the advisory board and the drivers’ on-track performance. Drivers are given points for both their success in chasing checkered flags and for community engagement, program representation and social media activities.
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.
-Kulwicki Driver Development Program Press Release