By: Richie Murray – USAC Media
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin (September 3, 2023)………It’d been more than a year since a driver last performed a complete sweep from start to finish throughout a USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship event.
Meanwhile, it had been just a tick under a year since the last time a team recorded a complete podium sweep of the top-three finishing positions during a USAC National Midget feature race.
In both cases, the team and car number leading the field across the finish line first was the very same – the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports No. 67.
On Sunday, during the opening night of the 38th running of the Firemen’s Nationals at Sun Prairie, Wisconsin’s Angell Park Speedway, the picture-perfect driver was Ryan Timms.
The Oklahoma City, Okla. native chased down teammate Gavin Miller, then waged a duel that consisted of slider after slider until Timms ultimately emerged ahead for good with eight laps remaining to earn his third series victory of the year in his Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/JBL Audio – TRD – Mobil 1/Lynk/Speedway Toyota.
For Timms, it was his fifth career USAC National Midget feature triumph, which moved him to 119th on the all-time list alongside Spencer Bayston, Mike Bliss, Lonnie Caruthers, Larry Dickson, Mike Fedorcak, Burt Foland, Mack McClellan, Danny McKnight, Cliff Spalding, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jerry Weeks.
Timms was superb from the start on Sunday night, earning his first career USAC Honest Abe Roofing fast qualifying time before capturing a heat race win from the sixth starting position, then again went sixth to first in the feature. His “sweep” of the event was the first such instance since Buddy Kofoid did the same in June of 2022 at Tri-City Speedway in Granite City, Ill.
Following Timms across the line at Angell Park’s 1/3-mile dirt oval were KKM teammates Gavin Miller and Jade Avedisian. The most recent occurrence in series history of the top-three finishers all hailing from the same team came in September of 2022 when KKM took the top-three spots at Gas City I-69 Speedway with Kofoid leading the field to victory with then teammates Kaylee Bryson and Brenham Crouch in tow.
Sunday night, it was Miller getting the initial jump on the field from the pole position, building an early full two second lead during the first 12 laps. However, in that same timeframe, Timms had picked his way through the field from sixth to second in a hurry past a collection of talent including Logan Seavey, Jade Avedisian, Bryant Wiedeman and Justin Grant.
Timms immediately began to chop Miller’s wide margin of a lead from two seconds to a half second by lap 19 when Wiedeman, running seventh at the time, slowed to a stop between turns three and four. Under yellow, ninth running Chase McDermand, the three-time Badger Midget champ who was making his debut with Bundy Built Motorsports, pulled in with mechanical trouble.
The ensuing restart meant “go-time” for Timms as he immediately aimed for the bottom of turn one to execute a slide job for the lead on Miller, pulling it off successfully to lead lap 20. Nonetheless, Miller dug in and fought back, slide-jobbing Timms four consecutive times on both ends of the racetrack, coming up inches short of the lead on lap 21 before retaking over the lead briefly by inches at the stripe on lap 22.
As soon as Timms officially fell to second in the running order, he dropped the hammer, so to speak, and went back to the well, sliding across the nose of Miller in turn one on the 23rd circuit, then successfully fended off a return shot by Miller as he slid himself into turn three, thus preventing a slider from Miller and began to steadily break away from the field with seven laps to go.
“I was catching Gavin before that last restart,” Timms recalled. “I knew that if I could get a good enough restart, I could just bomb him going into one, and that’s what I did but it almost didn’t work out. He kept getting underneath me and I didn’t know whether to slide myself again and I didn’t really know what to do there. After about two or three crossovers, I just started sliding myself. Then I made a couple mistakes there at the end, but I chilled myself out and managed to bring it home.”
At the finish line, Timms was 0.932 sec. ahead of Miller who finished second. Jade Avedisian made a late move to grab third away from Logan Seavey who finished fourth.
Seavey came up about a car length short of extending his streak of top-three finishes to 10, which would’ve tied him for the all-time series record set by Mel Kenyon in 1967 and Tony Stewart in 1995. With that said, Seavey still maintains the championship lead by a hefty 161-point margin. Seavey’s Abacus Racing teammate Daniel Whitley, meanwhile, finished a career-best fifth.
Gavin Miller (Allentown, Pa.) has been on point of late. Tonight, the leading Rookie of the Year contender led a race-high 21 of 30 laps en route to a runner-up finish in his Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/Eibach Springs – Mobil 1/Lynk/Speedway Toyota. In his last three USAC National Midget starts, Miller has now finished 5th, 2nd and 2nd.
“On the restart, I didn’t know what he was going to do,” Miller recalled. “He just threw big slide job, then I had to cross him back over and slide him back. I think I had him if it wasn’t for the yellow, but that’s just racing. We’ll be better next time.”
Jade Avedisian's first visit to Angell Park resulted in her best USAC National Midget finish in nearly three months in her Keith Kunz-Curb-Agajanian Motorsports/Mobil 1 – TRD – JBL Audio/Lynk/Speedway Toyota. The Clovis, Calif. racer finished third, her first top-three result since June at Lawrenceburg Speedway during Indiana Midget Week.
“I feel like I had a really, really fast car and I feel like I could’ve been there if I had done my first 15 laps a lot different,” Avedisian admitted. “I wasted a lot of time down there off turn two on the bottom, and I just needed to move up and keep up my momentum. I got to racing with Ryan (Timms) and just slowed my pace down and I was racing him instead of the cars in front of me.”
Daison Pursley (Locust Grove, Okla.) salvaged his night after an adventurous qualifying run, which involved biking majorly in turn one on both of his laps, which prevented him from recording an official time. Starting dead last in the feature from the 23rd spot, he advanced 14 positions to finish ninth, thus earning hard charger honors. Pursley maintains his yearlong advantage in the ProSource Passing Master standings with 166 positions advanced in features alone across USAC’s three national series, 62 more than his closest competition.
Timms’ time of 2:01.97 during his heat race victory on Sunday night broke the eight-lap track record that had stood for more than 16 years. Ryan Durst had held the USAC National Midget mark for the distance at Angell Park of 2:04.98 since August 26, 2007.