After six years of trying and multiple heartbreaking runner-up finishes to Ryan Martin, Kye Kelley finally had his moment Friday evening at the Texas Motorplex in Ennis, Texas, as he was officially crowned the Street Outlaws No Prep Kings season six individual champion.
Despite bowing out out in the opening round of eliminations in Friday’s Great 8 at the Texas Motorplex, Kelley had already secured the points necessary to clinch the title based on his performance at the Steele, Alabama race last month, but it wasn’t made official until the weather-postponed finale.
Kelley won three times in six final round appearances in the Great 8, which for the first time in the series’ history, was used to determine the individual champion. Perhaps most impressively, Kelley debuted a freshly re-bodied car with an all-new Noonan supercharged engine combination after years of racing exclusively with big-inch nitrous oxide horsepower. Kelley didn’t miss a beat, though, front-loading his championship chase with final round after final round early in the year and building up a commanding, at times seemingly insurmountable lead.
As the rest of the competitors in the series improved their programs over the latter half of the season, Kelley’s lead began to dwindle, and down the stretch his toughest challengers — including Martin, who got off to a career-worst start and was forced to play catch-up — used strong showings at the points-and-a-half events to put the pressure on. In the end, however, a final round appearance in Alabama’s Great 8 opposite Martin — a contest that Martin won — was enough to give Kelley the points he needed to desire the long-awaited title. Martin went on to win the Great 8 in Ennis, as well, but could only mathematically close to within five points of the championship.
In all, Kye Kelley recorded a 17-10 round record, and while his three wins was equaled by Martin, it was the six final round appearances that made the difference. In all, between the Great 8 and the main events, Kye won six times in seven final rounds, and won 47 rounds, amassing a 47-22 round record. He finished with the third-most points in the invitational overall, behind only Damon Merchant and Nate Sayler. On Friday nights, though, the New Orleans star was money. Now, he gets to count the money.