The following article is a guest article exclusive to The Racing Experts from Christopher Leone, iRacing.com’s Marketing and Communications Manager. The cover photo is from Speed51.com.
Ryan Kuhn made easy work of the inaugural Kulwicki Shootout 77, which saw current and former Kulwicki Driver Development Program finalists and semifinalists take on the old Phoenix Raceway layout in NASCAR K&N Pro Series Chevrolet Impalas. The East Bridgewater, MA native was unchallenged throughout the race, hammering consistent laps and taking the victory over Ty Majeski.
18 drivers, many carrying tribute schemes to program namesake Alan Kulwicki, took the green flag in the 77-lap shootout, but none of them had anything for Kuhn in the lead throughout the event. The most effective pass of the race came halfway through the shootout, as Majeski held third place and set his sights on Collin Slife. The Niece Motorsports NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series driver soon made the decisive pass for second and began to gap Slife, while putting his focus on Kuhn.
However, nobody had anything for the #72 Chevrolet throughout the race. Kuhn’s lead sat at a full second as cloud cover came in with 20 laps to go, only to grow even further as he gained two tenths of a second in the next six laps. Lapped traffic began to come into play in the final stages of the race, but Kuhn made clean passes of drivers like Kyle Crump, RJ Braun, and Wyatt Alexander to keep the gap growing further and further. In the end, Kuhn’s margin of victory was 1.858 seconds, and only 11 drivers managed to finish the race on the lead lap.
— Speed51 (@speed51dotcom) March 15, 2020
“I would’ve never thought I’d see the day that I beat Ty Majeski on iRacing,” Kuhn admitted after his dominant performance. “I think that’s the first time ever. First, I have to thank Kulwicki Driver Development Program, Tom Roberts, all of them—they’re doing an unbelievable job. The guys in the booth, Riley Stenjem and Ty for basically putting on this whole show. I think it was a lot of fun for us, and I think it was a lot of fun for the fans.
“Tire conservation was big tonight. I was listening to my spotter, and he said Ty was tearing up the right rear, so save the right rear. I saved the right rear and tried my best to save the right front, did a pretty good job at it, and put it in victory lane.”
The top 10 finishers from Sunday’s Kulwicki Shootout 77 at Phoenix Raceway are as follows:
- #72 Ryan Kuhn, 77 laps
- #1 Ty Majeski, +1.858
- #31 Collin Slife, +4.142
- #77 Riley Stenjem, +6.800
- #18 Michael Ostdiek, +12.114
- #51 John Peters, +12.526
- #6 Logan Runyon, +15.899
- #43 Devin O’Connell, +16.677
- #46 Cole Williams, +18.388
- #86 Marcel Gravel, +27.913
Established by the family of 1992 NASCAR Cup Series champion and 2019 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Alan Kulwicki, the Kulwicki Driver Development Program provides support to talented short track drivers across America. The seven finalists selected to the program each season earn $7,777, while the Kulwicki Cup is awarded at the end of the year to a driver who tops the program’s point system, which combines on-track performance with off-track community engagement and social media. The winning driver earns an additional $54,439 (seven times the initial amount); Majeski was the program’s inaugural winner in 2015.