“KULWICKI KID” HEADED TO HAWKEYE DOWNS THIS WEEKEND
CONCORD, N.C. (May 5, 2016) – Michael Ostdiek completed his last final exam for the semester at Iowa State University on Tuesday. He now can place his full focus on his budding career as a stock car driver until classes begin again in late August.
“I’ve officially finished my freshman year at Iowa State and we’re ready to really get after it,” said the 18-year-old driver from Lakeville, Minnesota. “First up on our schedule now is heading down to Cedar Rapids for the season-opener at Hawkeye Downs on Saturday afternoon. It’s just a regular show for their late models, but we’re looking to use it in preparation for when the Big 8 Series heads back there in a few weeks (for the June 3 ‘Clash at the Downs’).”
In his only start so far this season, Ostdiek qualified fifth (of 30 cars) and finished sixth in the April 17 Spring Classic Big-8 Late Model battle at Rockford Speedway.
“It was only two weeks after we learned we had been added to the KDDP (Kulwicki Driver Development Program) roster and we hoped to have a good run wearing their decals and patches for the first time,” said Ostdiek. “When you consider that our power steering went out early in the feature and we held on to finish sixth, it was a pretty solid showing. It was my best finish in three races there.
“One of the coolest things that happened that weekend was that so many of the Big 8 regulars and all the fans had picked up on the news that we were now one of the seven KDDP drivers,” Ostdiek said. “So many of the folks look to Speed51.com in getting their racing news and it was gratifying to see how many people were coming up to congratulate us for making the program. It was a really big deal for us, but also great to have one of the series regulars being among the seven drivers.
“What was extra special to me personally is that the announcer (Eric Huenefeld) was on the PA system referring to me as ‘the Kulwicki Kid’ and then others began picking up on it and calling me that. With a name like Michael Ostdiek, there’s not much that rhymes so I’ve never really had any nicknames. If it’s ‘Kulwicki Kid’ that sticks with me as my nickname, I’ll be flattered. I’m truly honored to be a part of the program and I am doing all I can to learn as much as possible about Alan. I want to represent him and the KDDP in a manner that he would be proud of.”
As for his challenge this weekend at Hawkeye Downs, Saturday’s race will mark Ostdiek’s third start on the half-mile oval. He already has fond memories of competing on Eastern Iowa’s premiere motorsports venue.
“My first trip there was back in my rookie year and I finished a strong third,” said Ostdiek. “The very next night we made the haul back up to Elko and won my first limited late model feature. We went back there for the Big 8 feature last year. It was the very next day after I graduated from high school. We qualified sixth and finished sixth in the qualifying dash. We were competitive the entire race and finished 11th.”
Ostdiek’s schedule for the remainder of the 2016 season will see him run races on at least eight tracks including Rockford, Hawkeye Downs, Elko, Madison, State Park, Wisconsin International and LaCrosse.
“We finished fourth in the Big 8 points last season, so we’ll be running all their races this year, plus we’re looking to add races in TUNDRA and ARCA Midwest Series competition,” said the former Elko Speedway Driver of the Year and 2015 NASCAR Whelen All American Series Minnesota Rookie of the Year. “Plus, we have several tracks we’ve never raced on that we hope to make it to this season. We want to do some traveling over in Wisconsin and race at tracks like Marshfield, Golden Sands and Slinger.
“The additional funding from the KDDP will allow us to add more races this year,” said Ostdiek. “I am proud of the progress we continue to show. We’re more competitive every time we return to a track and our fan base is really growing. When our season is over, I hope we’ve been able to win races and get the consistency going where we’re looked at as serious threats to win every time out. We want to leave a favorable impression as to what our future holds and have the KDDP and the other sponsors proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
All of which are realistic and reachable goals for racing’s new “Kulwicki Kid.”
For all the latest news in short track racing, we invite you to visit Speed51.com, the official media partner of the Kulwicki Driver Development Program. Follow them on Twitter at @speed51dotcom and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/speed51.
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NOTE--Caption for attached image: Michael Ostdiek, 18-year-old racer from Lakeville, Minnesota, is one of the seven Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) drivers for 2016. Recently given the nickname “Kulwicki Kid,” Ostdiek says he is doing all he can to learn about Alan Kulwicki, the late NASCAR Champion whose family established the program in 2014.
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