Tulsa, Okla. – Ryan Timms is one of those young drivers that fans are eagerly awaiting as they get older and move on to new series and opportunities. The feat secured Timms with a chance to be a lead driver with Keith Kunz Motorsports Chili Bowl powered Toyota roster.
Last year, the Oklahoma City native competed in his first Chili Bowl with Chad Butte Industries and finished sixth in the Wednesday Night B Major. Timms continued to break records throughout the 2022 Sprint and Midget series, including becoming the youngest driver to finish on the podium in the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Sprint Series at 16 years and 1 day.
Not surprisingly, these accomplishments landed him in the eagle eye of Keith Coons.
Chance in the head of KKM
Timms was behind driving KKM #67 this week in the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire. It is considered the leading vehicle for the organization and has topped the likes of Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Rico Abreu, and Michael “Buddy” Cofued in its time.
While neither Larson nor Bell were with the team or at the event this year, and Kofoid has moved on, Abreu, Kofoid and Timms are racing three of Kunz’s best Toyota-powered rides.
“It feels really good,” said Thames, “especially to be the first man and the new driver in the house. I’m so honored that he chose me. All the players that have been selected have been really successful and go on to do great things. I hope to be one of them.”
What sets the car home is very much on paper as the ingenious KKM Crew assists between each car. But Timms and his crew chief Jarrett Martin are still working to get away from the stacked field.
“It’s definitely different,” said Thames. “There’s a lot of guys running for the same team here. And Jarrett [Martin], it helped me a lot. He’s the guy who puts my stuff in and he, you know, helped me out. He’s talked me through the Chili Bowl so far. It was just an amazing experience.”
Timms secured a start in the B major on Saturday by finishing seventh in the Monday Night Prelim.
“It felt really good,” Thames said. AutoRacingDigest.com Of his performance, “I started on the heat pole and won it. I started third in the heat, I won it. And I’ve been running third in most of the A Main.”
Then I just started to drive over my head a little bit and let my emotions get the better of me, I backed up a bit and I definitely feel like we should have finished higher. I had a car to win. Jared did a great job all night and that will put me 12th in the classification B.”
After he fades into the A, Timms knows what he needs to do to keep moving forward and is in control of everything, not of the car but of the driver inside.
“[The goal for Saturday is] “Not letting your emotions be in the cockpit and driving your race,” Timms explained, “to remain calm and collected.”
When asked how his emotions affect his race, he explains that when a track is shiny, he gets angry and starts making mistakes.
“I was stepping on the gas a lot, turning the wheels a lot coming out of turns, and everyone would drive right next to us,” said Thames.
Maturity comes quickly for these young drivers as they grow on the road and on stage in front of audiences and critics alike. Being under the umbrella of juggernaut racing like KKM gives Timms the direction to learn from mistakes, and to take control of your mind.
Kunz know how
People ask Koons all the time what makes him such a good scout.
“It just seems like we have the ability to see someone there,” Kunz said. “We don’t just look out of our sport. We look out and in the other departments. We look for kids who do talented things in shoddy equipment. Someone that’s loaded the car.”
As for Thames captaining the team overall this season, not just for the Chilean Bowl, Coons said, “It’s probably going to take a year, but you know, he really got in…and he’s just going to get better and better. It’s just time.”
A big advantage of choosing to race with KKM is the team’s reach and the ease with which drivers can adapt to the team.
“They’re able to step right in,” Koons explained, “get up a lot faster and evolve faster, and then roll more eyes at them in hopes of getting a chance.” “
Coons first noticed Tims three or four years ago and watched him run the micro at the Tulsa Shootout during that time. Like many others, Coons is impressed with the young talent and believes running competitively in the sprints this past season helped him prepare for real success at the Chili Bowl.
Koons explained, “He has to run on different racetracks, so he adapts really quickly to whatever you can throw at him. You get people running in one place all the time, you know, in one lane. And then when you have to get out of that , They are not able to adapt fast enough and be very good.”
Timms is set to start 12th in the B-main this evening hoping to make the feature A Main and continue to show the midget and running car community that he’s the next big thing.