Jesse Colwell earned the opportunity of a lifetime when he won the Keith Kunz Giveback Classic at Millbridge Speedway last October; a ride in the famed Chili Bowl for the Keith Kunz stable. After an impressive performance at last January’s Chili Bowl that saw his weekend end just three spots short of an A-Main starting spot, the Red Bluff, California driver was given a full-time ride for the 2019 season.
Fast-forward to July 14, and Colwell has joined an exclusive list that includes drivers like Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, and Rico Abreu. The newly-turned 20-year-old picked up his first-career Midget feature win when he won the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League feature at Humboldt Speedway (KS) behind the wheel of a Keith Kunz Motorsports race car.
Colwell had to work his way around several cars and a hot, slick track early in the 30-lap main event after starting in the fourth row. It appeared he was on his way to a top-three finish before leader Zach Daum flipped to bring out the yellow with five to go. Colwell inherited the lead and held off teammate Daison Pursley for the win.
“I started seventh and we had that 25-lap green flag run,” Colwell told Speed51.com. “I was a little worried about that because I knew if there was no yellow, there was no way I was going to catch Daum. The yellow came out when I got to second finally, and when the yellow came out he blew up and started flipping, and that gave me the lead on the restart.
“In the heat race, it just got super slick superfast, there wasn’t a lot of passing so I ended up having to start seventh in the feature and I didn’t know what to expect,” he continued. “I didn’t know if we were going to be able to race or if it was just going to be one lane and super slick like it was in the heat race.”
Going into Sunday night’s show at Humboldt, Colwell had earned a second and four third-place finishes and had finished in the top 10 in all but one of his 12 POWRi starts. After coming close to winning in past races, winning on Sunday lifted the monkey off his back.
“I definitely feel a lot better because there was four or five weeks in a row where we ran up on the podium,” he said. “It sucks running second that many times in a row without winning one.”
Colwell’s rookie season in a Keith Kunz Midget has been a successful one to this point. He sits second in POWRi Midget points, just behind KKM teammate and defending USAC National Midget champion Logan Seavey. He also leads the Rookie of the Year standings in the NOS Energy USAC National Midgets. He says none of this would have been possible without winning the Keith Kunz Giveback Classic last October.
“I probably would’ve never got to run for KKM in a Midget or Toyota or any of this stuff without the KKM Giveback Classic,” he stated. “I feel like it’s been pretty good, I’ve had quite a few top-threes, top-twos, a bunch of top 10s. I feel like we’ve had speed.”
Colwell will continue to compete in POWRi and USAC Midget races for the remainder of 2019 with Keith Kunz Motorsports. With his first National Midget win under his belt, he has one specific goal in mind for the second half of the year, something Keith Kunz Motorsports teammate Tanner Carrick accomplished on the same night Colwell got his first POWRi Midget win.
“I’m hoping to win a USAC race, that would be a good start.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: POWRi Facebook