CHANUTE — If you venture to Humboldt Speedway on a Friday night, more than likely you will see Tyler Kidwell’s No. 54 leading the pack of Ray’s Metal Depot USRA B-Mods.
Kidwell snatched his first win of the 2020 racing season at Humboldt last Friday. In his two other features at Humboldt this season, he has finished in the top five.
If you are curious as to what keeps Kidwell in front, it is simple — maintaining his winning machine.
“Just working on it,” Kidwell said. “Ninety percent of the time, we are in the shop after work, so it is like a second job. But if you are going to do it, and do it to win — you have to put the time in, and that is what we do. Maintenance is key, and you have to stay consistent in the shop, but you also have to stay out of trouble on the track.”
Kidwell started racing pure stocks in 2009, competing in a handful of events before a crash cut short his season. After a year off racing karts in 2010, he decided to get back in the pure stock car for 2011.
It was a match made in heaven. Kidwell won 13 races in the pure stock class. The season also set his sights on more than winning races, but taking home a Humboldt Speedway track championship.
He did just that in 2012, winning 16 races across three different tracks: Humboldt, Caney, and Nevada. After mastering the pure-stock class, he felt it was time for a change into a B-mod.
“I always wanted to run an open-wheel car, and the B-mod class was the most affordable thing outside of a modified car,” Kidwell said.
Racing does come with trials and tribulations, and 2016 was one of those years for Kidwell. Motor issues had himl ready to park his car, but he persevered, and finished with perfect attendance that season at Humboldt Speedway.
Losing races, and car trouble are all a part of the game.
“You just build from it,” Kidwell said. “You are disappointed at the time, but you sleep on it, wake up the next day and just have more drive to be much better. That is how I am, but I’m sure that is how all racers are.”
The adrenaline rush keeps Kidwell’s wheels turning.
“It is a rush, and your adrenaline gets rolling pretty hard,” Kidwell said. “It is very addicting, and once I got started I haven’t been able to quit.”
Kidwell finished ninth nationally in the USRA B-Mod class in 2018, earning his points from Caney Valley Speedway. Humboldt Speedway was sanctioned under NASCAR but not USRA in 2018, which prevented Kidwell from earning points for another USRA title run.
Last season, Kidwell was unable to replicate a top-10 finish in the USRA points race. Rain played a role, canceling a number of events at Caney Kidwell planned to drive. He finished second in track points at Humboldt Speedway in 2019, and 60th in NASCAR’s Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Division I.
Humboldt Speedway changed its sanctioning from NASCAR to USRA for 2020, which is better for drivers financially, and offers more of an even playing field for accumulating points.
“Nationally, it was a lot harder because you race against NASCAR’s Whelen All-American Series, which are asphalt modified cars,” Kidwell said. “The asphalt mods and the dirt mods are competing for points, but they get a lot more races than we do it seems. So, it is harder.”
For now, Kidwell sits atop the Rays Metal Depot USRA B-Mods at Humboldt Speedway. Nationally, he sits seventh in points, despite running the fewest races of the main competitors.
Kidwell says COVID-19 put a damper on the early stages of the season. While his car was parked in Chanute, other drivers living in states with fewer lockdown restrictions took advantage.
“That was very frustrating, and I was very impatient, but I understand why it had to happen,” he said.
Kidwell is 10 wins away from his 100th trip to victory lane. He plans to capture that achievement before the season ends, and whatever else might come with it.
“That is my main goal, and getting the best finish that we can,” Kidwell said. “Everywhere we show up we are there to win, so we will see how the points show up at the end of the season.”