(Photo courtesy Alex Prunty Racing)

Wisconsin native Alex Prunty wins Kulwicki Cup Championship

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It has been 24 years since Alan Kulwicki won the 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup championship. He died in a plane crash less than five months later on April 1, 1993.

But the legacy of Kulwicki continues with the Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) and the Kulwicki Cup Championship.

The organization announced Wednesday that Alex Prunty, a Wisconsin native like Kulwicki, was named the 2016 Kulwicki Cup Champion.

Prunty, 24, of Lomira, Wisc., defeated runner-up Dave Farrington Jr., of Jay, Maine, 533 points to 525 in the seven-driver field.

The points for the championship are determined not only by on-track performance during the 2016 season, but also by each driver’s community involvement, social media interaction and off-track projects.

The final outcome was determined by an advisory board, as well as 2015 KDDP inaugural Kulwicki Cup Champion Ty Majeski.

2015 KDDP Logo for letterhead

“The battle for this year’s Kulwicki Cup title was as exciting and intense as it could be,” KDDP Executive Director Tom Roberts said in a media release. “Unlike last season when our champion (Majeski) had such a spectacular fall that he distanced himself from the competition, this contest was incredibly close and went down to the wire.

“The final point standings certainly reflect the importance of everything that goes into winning our prestigious award. It’s not just what you do on the race track that counts. Our mission is to help worthy drivers toward reaching their dreams while at the same time keeping Alan Kulwicki’s memory and legacy alive. I think our board and Ty did an excellent job in keeping that goal paramount in this undertaking.”

The final 2016 KDDP “Kulwicki Cup” point standings:

1) – Alex Prunty – 533
2) – Dave Farrington Jr. – 525
3) – Michael Ostdiek — 496
4) – Jeremy Doss – 488
5) – Brandon Setzer – 246
6) – Cody Haskins – 204
7) – Quin Houff – 175

Prunty competed in Super Late Models in 2016 and won races at Slinger Speedway and Dells Raceway Park in his home state. He also earned Rookie of the Year honors at Slinger and finished third in the track’s Super Late Model division.

Farrington, who was the only driver to compete for the Kulwicki Cup in both 2015 and 2016, won five races and garnered 18 top-five finishes this season, including wins at his home track, Beech Ridge Motor Speedway.

“Alan would have been so proud of all of these racers,” Roberts said of Kulwicki. “When you look back on the season, each of them certainly benefitted from our support and progressed in some unique fashion during the year.”

Prunty and the other six drivers in the 2016 KDDP class will be recognized at the organization’s banquet on Dec. 14 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which would have been Kulwicki’s 62nd birthday.

Prunty will receive a winner’s check of $54,439 and the Kulwicki Cup Champion’s trophy.

Follow @Jerry Bonkowski

My Home Tracks: New Mexico’s the Land of Enchantment and home of Cardinal Speedway

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The state of New Mexico is known more for IndyCar racing, with the Unser family being the state’s favorite sons.

Al Unser won four Indianapolis 500s, brother Bobby three and Al’s son Al Jr. a two-time winner (this weekend’s 500 marks the 25th anniversary of Little Al’s second 500 triumph).

But there’s a strong grassroots racing scene in the Land of Enchantment, particularly in the far southeast corner of the state at Cardinal Speedway, a half-mile dirt track in the little town of Eunice.

NASCAR America continues its My Home Track series of 50 states in 50 shows.

Wednesday, we visit New York state.

2018 NASCAR schedule changes: EVP Steve O’Donnell breaks it down (video)

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On Tuesday’s edition of NASCAR America, NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell joined us to discuss the NASCAR Cup schedule changes in 2018, including running a road race at Charlotte and having Indianapolis be the final race before the playoffs.

“I’m real excited about these changes,” said O’Donnell, who cited unprecedented cooperation between NASCAR, its teams, drivers and sponsors to reach agreement on the schedule changes.

Among the key changes: Las Vegas will kick off the 10-race playoffs in 2018 (Chicagoland Speedway, which will have hosted the last seven playoff openers, will return to its more traditional race date in early July/late June and serve as a run-up to the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona.

Several other changes include:

  • The fall playoff race at Charlotte will move up a couple weeks in the schedule and also incorporate competition on both the infield road course and part of the speedway itself.
  • After 14 years as the deciding race to qualify for the NASCAR Cup playoffs, Richmond International Raceway will now become the second race of the playoffs.
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway will see it’s Brickyard 400 go from late July to become the final qualifying race for the playoffs in early September.

Catch up on all the changes in the above video.

Tony Stewart pulled over by state trooper, but it’s not for speeding

Photo courtesy Damein Cunningham Twitter account
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Retired NASCAR Cup driver and team co-owner Tony Stewart was stopped by an Illinois State Trooper over the weekend near DeKalb, Ill., about 90 minutes west of Chicago.

But before you think Stewart was stopped for speeding by Trooper Damein Cunningham, he wasn’t.

Rather, Cunningham pulled Stewart over for improper lane usage, although exactly what the infraction was is unclear.

After getting a verbal warning, Stewart gladly posed with Cunningham for a selfie, which the trooper promptly tweeted out.

“Just pulled over NASCAR LEGEND Tony Stewart on I-88 in DeKalb, IL, what you think I got him for? #NASCAR #ISP”

But according to the Chicago Tribune, Cunningham’s bosses apparently didn’t have a sense of humor about the incident or realize the good PR it meant for the Illinois State Police.

That, or they’re not Stewart or NASCAR fans. They ordered Cunningham to delete the tweet, which he did.

It’s unclear what Stewart, who was stopped on his 46th birthday, was doing in the Land of Lincoln.

But his luck went from bad to worse a few hours later. According to USA Today, Stewart and others were stuck in an elevator in a Madison, Wisconsin hotel for about 20 minutes before being rescued by firefighters.

We can just imagine what the elevator riders talked about while trapped.

How much do you want to bet Stewart said, “Man, do I have a story about a cop that I have to tell you.”

Cunningham then posted another tweet on Sunday after attending church services.

 

Follow @JerryBonkowski

All-Star Race will remain at Charlotte in 2018

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
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NASCAR confirmed that the All-Star Race will be held again at Charlotte Motor Speedway despite more of a push from competitors and others to move the event.

Criticism was raised after last weekend’s 70-lap event featured only three lead changes. Kyle Busch took the lead on the restart to begin the final 10-lap stage and went on to win. It marked the fourth time in the last five years the All-Star winner led every lap in the final stage. In 12 All-Star Races at Charlotte since the track was repaved, there have been two lead changes in the final five laps.

Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations, was clear in a call with reporters Tuesday that the All-Star Race is set for Charlotte.

“We’ve finished our discussions for ’18,” he said. ” We’ll begin looking at ’19 and beyond in the near future.”

The All-Star Race debuted at Charlotte in 1985, moved to Atlanta in 1986 and returned to Charlotte the following year. It has been held at Charlotte ever since.

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