Kulwicki Driver Development

-Sunday’s Joe Shear Classic at Madison International Speedway is Season Opener for KDDP Duo-

CONCORD, N.C. (May 5, 2017) – Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) drivers Justin Mondeik and Michael Ostdiek kick off their 2017 racing seasons in Sunday’s 200-lap Joe Shear Classic ARCA Midwest Tour battle at Madison International Speedway.  Both drivers are stepping up to run super late models almost exclusively this season and are competing against each other for the series’ coveted Rookie of the Year title.  Both are also hoping to be in the mix for the prestigious and lucrative annual KDDP Kulwicki Cup Championship.

            For Mondeik, the 2017 season marks the culmination of a steady climb up the short track ranks – from 4-cylinders, to limited late models and now to a full slate of super late model racing.

            “We’re really looking forward to competing for the ARCA Midwest Tour Rookie of the Year and overall championship this year,” said the 20-year-old charger who hails from Gleason, Wisconsin.  “We’ll also be competing in the TUNDRA Series this season.  We will be racing more than 40 times this year.  It’s going to be a challenge, that’s for sure.  We will be running against so many proven winners in every race.  It’s not just two or three cars that can win; the whole pack has a shot.”

            Mondeik has established sensible goals for the season, hoping to qualify well and be in the running for podium finishes much like Alan Kulwicki did during both his short track and NASCAR careers.  Mondeik will graduate from Northcentral Technical College this month and has spent recent weeks focusing on how to celebrate and honor Kulwicki, the 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion.

“We have a lot of great ideas as to how to share Alan’s story with the fans this year,” said Mondeik, who funded and presented the Alan Kulwicki Lucky 7 Mechanical Engineering Scholarship just last week to another Northcentral student.  “We have wrapped our primary super late model to look like Alan’s famous ‘Underbird’ that he won his championship in. Just being part of the program means a lot to me personally. All my life I’ve strived to be a role model and to make a difference.  Now as part of the most honored driver development program in the country, I feel like I can finally make that difference.”

Ostdiek is finishing up his sophomore year at Iowa State University and will tackle a schedule filled with races throughout the Midwest.  The Lakeville, Minnesota, native was a top runner in the Big 8 Series last year and returns to the KDDP after finishing third overall in last year’s battle for the Kulwicki Cup. 

            “Running the ARCA Midwest Tour full time this year certainly is a big step up for our team,” said the promising 19-year-old driver who is also a member of the Iowa State Cyclone lacrosse team.  “It’ll be challenging and we really love challenges.  Our goals entering the season are to be in the thick of the battle for the rookie title and be able to compete for top-five finishes on a consistent basis.

            “We faced some mechanical gremlins with our super late model effort last year, but we’re getting a fresh start in 2017,” said Ostdiek.  “We’ve added some personnel, beefed up our equipment and really look forward to getting our season started.

            Ostdiek’s primary car will again feature the striking Zerex “rainbow” color scheme campaigned by Kulwicki during the 1989 and 1990 seasons.  Ostdiek was very involved in helping young racers in 2016 and will again manage his own driver development program for quarter-midget drivers this year.  A natural at crowd and fan interaction, he will be a driver to keep your eye on all season long.

Madison International Speedway has been the site of some incredible racing in recent years – a lot it involving defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion Johnny Sauter. This year, controlled pit stops will be part of the 200-lap feature, setting up multiple strategies throughout the race.

“This weekend’s race will be my first at Madison,” said Mondeik.  “At least half the tracks on the Midwest Tour will be new to us.  I hear that Madison has some similarities to Plover and Marshfield, tracks where we’ve run well and won on  in the past.  Saturday’s testing is going to be very crucial for us.”

“Madison is where I earned my first career top-five finish in a Big 8 Series race,” countered Ostdiek.  “It’s an old track and suits my driving style really well.  You can pass, but you have to be good on the bottom and you have to keep your momentum up.  I can’t wait to get back there this weekend.”

Spectator gates will open Sunday at 11:30 a.m., with racing beginning at 2:00 p.m. CDT. Adult general admission is $25 and $22 for active duty military, veterans, seniors, and students (12-17).  Kids ages 6 to 11 are $10 and all kids under age 5 get in free. For more information, please visit the track website at www.misracing.com or www.arcamidwesttour.com.

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