HUMBOLDT, Kan. — Driving for Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports, Kaylee Bryson equaled a page in the national midget history books Friday night at Humboldt Speedway.
Bryson led 11 of 30 laps before finishing second at the quarter-mile bullring, matching the best finish by a female driver in the modern history of midget racing.
Sarah McCune first set the mark in 1999 on the pavement at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway, before it was equaled on the dirt by Holly Shelton in 2018 at Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, Mo., and again last year by Holley Hollan, also at Valley.
Friday night, Bryson added Humboldt to that rundown, but for a while it looked like she might exceed the other three and stand alone on the top of the podium.
Bryson found a comfortable groove on the top of the race track and used it to soar from fourth to second in threelaps, before she slid Chance Morton for the lead on the fifth rotation.
From there, Bryson opened a comfortable lead, while her KKM teammate Buddy Kofoid fought his way to second before finally giving chase for the lead two laps before halfway.
Though Kofoid closed somewhat, it was a lap-16 caution that ultimately doomed Bryson’s victory chance, as it set up Kofoid on her rear bumper before the Penngrove, Calif., native slid her for the point on the restart.
After that, it was all deuces for Bryson, who soldiered home to a career-best finish in POWRi action and put her name among the elite female drivers to have competed — and contended — in the midget ranks.
“I’m just getting laps in and trying to get better every single night,” Bryson noted. “We had a good car tonight; Buddy was just a little bit better at the end. It’s been a learning experience each time out, but I feel like we’re getting closer to being able to get that win. We were just one spot short this time.
“It’s special, though, to finish second and have my name mentioned with Holly Shelton and Holley Hollan,” she added. “They were obviously a big part of KKM when they were here and, hopefully, I can do the same as we keep going through the year.”
Shelton, Hollan and Bryson all accomplished their runner-up marks driving for the Keith Kunz-led, Toyota-powered juggernaut that has won the last four POWRi features.
It’s a continued legacy that Bryson is proud to have her name associated with, but she’s not content resting on matching those who have come before her.
She wants to be the first female driver in POWRi or USAC history to notch what would be a historic maiden victory.
“It feels pretty good to match that best finish, but I just want that first win so bad,” said the 19-year-old native of Muskogee, Okla. “I’m with one of the best teams out there and having Toyota power is pretty awesome. I feel fortunate to be out here with all of these great people. I’m learning every time I’m on the track. I got to race hard with Buddy and he’s one of the best of the best.
“Now my goal is to get some wins.”
The POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League season continues Saturday night at Valley Speedway.