Flyin’ Ryan: Timms Opens USAC Midget Season in Belleville Victory Lane

Being the driver of car number 67 for Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports is one of the most coveted roles in all of dirt track racing.
When Ryan Timms was called upon to play the lead role as the fabled car’s newest pilot for the 2023 season, he was aware of the history, the gravitas the position holds, and was fully cognizant of the shoes he had to fill following his predecessor Buddy Kofoid’s consecutive USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championships in 2021-22.
Throughout Friday night’s season opener at the Belleville (Kan.) Short Track, the Oklahoma City, Okla. native demonstrated that he was prepared to sprint with the baton that had been bestowed upon him.
Timms felt he nearly ended his own race on multiple occasions with a couple of self-inflicted miscues during the second half of the 30-lap feature at the north central Kansas quarter-mile dirt oval, which the series was visiting for the first time ever.
Twice, Timms saw his lead slip away only to gain it back on the very next lap in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/JBL Audio – TRD – Mobil 1/Bullet By Spike/Speedway Toyota. In total, Timms led 27 of the 30 laps, taking control with a slide job of Jake Andreotti 12 laps from the finish line to earn his third career series victory.
“I about gave it away two times,” Timms acknowledged. “I got over the lip in one and two and managed to come back out in second and get back by, and later, I about stalled it in (turns) three and four, but somehow, I kept it going. I’m just super lucky, but we were really fast.”
Timms launched from the pole position in the feature, but right away, trouble befell one of the race’s odds-on favorites on lap one, turn one. Honest Abe Roofing Fast Qualifier Justin Grant started sixth, but uncharacteristically careened over the turn one banking at the start of the feature, looping his car 180 degrees before coming to a rest. Grant restarted but trudged through the balance of the race to a 22nd place result, his furthest back series result since September of 2021 at South Dakota’s Huset’s Speedway.
On the retry, outside front row starter Jade Avedisian got the upper hand to lead the opening lap before Timms scooted into the race lead with a turn one slider on lap two. On lap six, Timms dipped his right-side wheels off the racetrack, losing a plethora of ground as well as his lead to Logan Seavey who made his way to the front after starting back in fifth. But once again, Timms answered the bell, returning the favor by sliding Seavey for the lead once more a half moment later in turn one on lap seven.
From there, Timms branched his way outward to increase his lead to 2.2 seconds just past the halfway point while working traffic. But just as Timms was bracing himself for the oncoming onslaught of gridlockery, the yellow flag was displayed on lap 16 for eighth running Kevin Thomas Jr. who stopped on the other side of turns three and four.
Hanging around at that moment was fourth starting Jake Andreotti, who made a timely and sudden surge on the ensuing restart, promptly delivering a pair of jabs and a right hook that placed him right in the thick of the lead battle. Restarting third, Andreotti charged by Seavey for second, then took Timms’ lunch money as he launched into the lead by a few feet at the conclusion of lap 18.
Just as he did before, Timms immediately stood up in the seat and threw his ride to the bottom of turn one before sliding up to the top of two to snare the lead away, as he did on this particular occasion during the 19th go-around. Seemingly in control, Timms remained vigilant in keeping the chaos level at arm’s length until he poked at the cushion in turns three and four, and falling over the edge, resulting in his layers of advantage being peeled back from 2.5 seconds to 1.1 seconds with a mere five laps remaining.
With not much there to lay a right rear tire to any longer, Timms hatched an alternate plan that helped him secure his position at the head of the class.
“During the feature, I didn’t really know where to run,” Timms admitted. “I think when I plowed the curb in one and two, it took it all down, so there was nothing to lean on getting into one. So, I just started sliding myself at the end. It managed to work out and I’m glad we could get the win.”
Timms went undenied throughout the final stanza, brandishing a 2.253 second edge as he crossed the finish line. Jake Andreotti grabbed a USAC National career-best second place finish with Zach Daum third and hard charging Daison Pursley finishing fourth after starting 14th. Tanner Thorson, in his own ride, zipped to a fifth place result.
The victory by Timms gave KKM its fifth season opening USAC National Midget feature win, second only to the eight achieved by car owner Steve Lewis between 1994-2006.
USAC National Midget Rookie of the Year contender Jake Andreotti (Castro Valley, Calif.) opened his 2023 season with an impressive, career-best second place finish in his Tom Malloy/Trench Shoring – Rodela Specialty Fabrication/King/Ed Pink Toyota. Andreotti led one lap in the latter half of the main and led the Malloy team to its best USAC showing since winning the 2021 Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway with driver Logan Seavey.
Meanwhile, with his third-place finish, Zach Daum (Pocahontas, Ill.) became the first driver to finish inside the top-three with the USAC National Midgets on both the Belleville High Banks and the Belleville Short Track, the latter of which he achieved on Friday night in his Ramco Speed Group/The BLRH Group – American Fire Extinguishers – Jambo’s BBQ/Spike/Toyota. Dating back to last year, it’s Daum’s fifth consecutive top-four USAC feature finish.