Shotko Can't Wait for Next Shot at Money in the Bank Win

The KDDP finalist is a man on a mission heading into Money in the Bank.

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CONCORD, N.C. (June 1, 2022) – It only takes a few moments listening to promising young racer Evan Shotko speak to make the bold statement that no driver wants to win the June 8 SRL National “Bettan Baker Money in the Bank 150” at Berlin Raceway more than he does. The first-ever Michigan Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) finalist is a man on a mission in his approach to the Super Late Model battle that will pay at least $10,000 to the victor.

“Winning it would mean the world to me,” said the hard-charging 18-year-old driver from Coopersville, Michigan. “It would be the highlight of my career and put my name on the list of drivers on the rise to look at into the future. After what happened in the last big 150-lap race there, I can’t wait for my next shot on June 8.”

In last August’s “Battle of Berlin 150,” Shotko qualified second, but after the invert he started back in the field. The talented third-generation racer exercised patience moving up through the field and was up to second when the caution flag flew and the leaders hit pit road. Shotko passed leader (and eventual race winner) Kyle Crump on the outside on the lap 93 restart, but his No. 22 car coasted to a halt on lap 116 under caution and wouldn’t refire.

“When we took the lead, our car was on rails,” said Shotko, who finished second in Berlin Raceway’s SLM point standings last season and third in 2019. “We stretched our lead to half a straightaway and were distancing ourselves from the field. When we had stretched the lead to almost a full straightaway, the caution came out. Just as we were coming out of Turn 4, the engine shut off. There was no warning at all. It just cut off, wouldn’t refire and our night was over.

“It was the most disappointing experience I’ve ever had in a race car,” Shotko said. “It weighs heavy on my mind even today. I watch the replay of that race about once a week and still can’t let it go. I remember the McGunegill guys (engine builder) were there and looking under the hood when we had to pull into the pits. As it turned out, it wasn’t the engine at all. It was the ignition that cost us a great shot of winning it.”

READ MORE: 2022 Kulwicki Driver Development Program Finalists Announced


This “big one that got away” race came only a couple of months after Shotko had qualified third and finished 11th in the 2021 edition of the “Money in the Bank 150,” one of 14 drivers who finished on the lead lap.

“When I look back now, I think we learned a lot from the first 150-lapper that helped us last August,” said Shotko. “We qualified well and started back in the field after the invert. We held our own in that race and it set us up for more success there last August.

“Over the months, I’ve been able to use that experience to build up a ton of confidence and motivation. I know that if we are prepared and have a car that strong again, we can win in the big races at Berlin.”

Berlin Raceway began as a dirt oval back in 1951. In 1966, the West Michigan track was transformed into a 7/16ths-mile asphalt oval with 13-degree banking in the turns and 9-degree banking on the straightaways. Through the years, it has gained the reputation of being one of the most difficult tracks ever for competitors.

“It’s a challenging track, that’s for sure,” offered Shotko. “It’s a place where the regulars there have been able to run well against any of the touring series that come in. It’s not an easy track to adapt to because it’s unique. Learning how to race there requires logging many laps.

“The track changes so much due to track temperature, rubber buildup…you name it. The key to getting around it fast is getting dealing with its demands. Coming out of Turn 2 is so critical in that you carry so much speed down the backstretch. You need horsepower, for sure, but handling is most important.

“I don’t think I was as quick to learn as others,” said Shotko, whose timeline to Super Late Model racing took an unconventional path that began on dirt in Street Stocks and Dirt Modifieds. “I learned a lot about racing there from my dad and guys like Johnny VanDoorn, but it took quite a while.

“I’ll point to the 2020 season, the Covid year where we raced fewer than five times at Berlin, when I honestly think I got the hang of it,” Shotko said. “We were able to win back-to-back five-grand-to-win 100-lap features heading into the 150 that year and that’s when I thought to myself that I finally had a grasp on the place and could consistently race for wins there.

“It’s paid dividends, too,” offered Shotko. “I think learning how to be competitive at Berlin has made it easier to adapt to other tracks. We were fast qualifier and finished a strong second at Birch Run Speedway a couple of weeks ago. It was the first time I had raced there. I know it sounds strange, but learning how to race at Berlin made adapting to Birch Run a lot easier.”

Shotko is a racer who never shies away from competition. As a matter of record, he welcomes it with open arms.

“We race as much as we can, considering we’re a small family-run team with a limited budget,” Shotko said. “We love to travel to the bigger shows when we can afford it. We had a blast and learned a great deal when we went down to Alabama back in March (for the Alabama 200 at Montgomery Speedway and the Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway).

“I’ve always thought that you can only get better as a driver when you race against the best competition,” offered Shotko. “Some of the top drivers out there will be coming to Berlin on June 8 and we’re really looking forward to seeing how we can stack up against them this time around. Being a 2022 finalist in the Kulwicki program certainly gives us bonus incentive to do well. We’re so proud to be carrying Alan’s colors this season. This race could be a game changer for my career. We can’t wait!”

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The SRL National “Bettan Baker Money in the Bank 150” starting field will be set by a combination of time trials and a qualifying race. The fastest 24 qualifiers will transfer directly into the starting lineup. The top four finishers in the qualifying race will also transfer into the starting lineup for the main event. The final two starting positions will be awarded to the two qualifying race winners from May 7 and May 28 if necessary. The feature event will be 150 laps, with competition cautions after 40 consecutive green flag laps are completed.

For additional information, visit the Berlin Raceway website at www.berlinraceway.com.

* * *

The 2022 season marks the seventh fully-functioning year for the KDDP, which was established in 2014 by the Kulwicki estate for the purpose of helping worthy drivers toward reaching their dreams while at the same time keeping Alan’s memory and legacy alive.

The seven drivers each receive a one-time stipend of $7,777 to cover operational expenses. The organization works 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 “Kulwicki Cup.” That award winner will pick up an additional check worth seven times the initial prize ($7,777 x 7 = $54,439) and a special unique trophy.

This year’s Kulwicki Cup titlist will join an illustrious group of former champions that includes Ty Majeski (2015) of Seymour, Wisconsin; Alex Prunty (2016) of Kewaskum, Wisconsin; Cody Haskins (2017) of Marietta, Georgia; Brett Yackey (2018) of Greeley, Colorado; Jeremy Doss (2019) of Upper Lake, California; and Luke Fenhaus (2021) of Wausau, Wisconsin. The program went on hiatus during the 2020 season due to the pandemic.

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 RacingAmerica.com, the organization’s official media partner.

-Story by: Kulwicki Driver Development Program
-Photo credit: KDDP photos by Ally Ross