Championship Drive: Kyle Tellstromadmin
Winning back-to-back championships in the NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Late Model Series is rare. Entering 2019 only 5 men had accomplished this feat in the division’s 51-year history: Bob Mitich, Steve Mason, Jerry Bowers, Willie Ransom, and Sean Miller. All five are enshrined in the Western Idaho Racing Association Hall of Fame. But Tellstrom would have to outrun a pair of pre-season favorites in Twin Falls, Idaho’s John Newhouse and Middleton, Idaho youngster Zach Telford if he were to add his name to this illustrious list.
As Tellstrom wheeled his red and white number 91 PitStopUSA.com, Joe’s Racing Products, PFC Brakes, Advanced Auto Parts machine to the season-opening Builder’s First Source 100 victory, the Ukiah, California native seemed to be in the driver’s seat for the 2019 title. However, Tellstrom’s luck would turn in the division’s shortest race, the Bill Crow 50, when he was swept up in an early accident. Quick repairs managed to get Tellstrom to the checkers, well back of then–standings–leader Newhouse.
As Tellstrom’s luck soured, Telford’s was finally turning around. Though the youngster had started 2019 fast, his first two hadn’t reflected his ZTR, Builder’s First Source, Precision Framing racer’s outright speed. This put the pressure on Telford to succeed in the NAPA Auto Parts Treasure Valley 125. And succeed he did, muscling his number 17 machine past Tellstrom—who fell victim to two flat tires on the night—to claim his first victory of the season.
With Telford gaining fast, Tellstrom scored a momentum-stemming runner up in the Jeff Russell Road to Recovery 85, leaving him 39 points ahead of Telford as the two sped into the final race on the 2019 schedule, the Kart Idaho 10K Late Model Double Jackpot.
The trouble started early for Telford, as a mechanical issue sidelined the young racer early in the first 100 lap feature, while Tellstrom raced his way to a conservative fifth place finish. With one last chance to catch Tellstrom, Telford tore his way through the pack in the second main event before a tangle with lapped traffic sent him hard into the turn four concrete. With Telford out of the race Tellstrom limped his ailing racer home tenth, scoring enough points to clinch his second straight NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Late Model Series title.