Two drivers with deep ties to the ARCA Menards Series factored heavily in yesterday’s rain-delayed 52nd annual Snowball Derby, including race winner Travis Braden.
After being spun in a multi-car accident as the leader Ty Majeski was coming to take the white flag, Braden quickly regrouped under the caution flag. Majeski was spun out on the ensuing restart and collected most of the field behind him, with new leader Stephen Nasse ahead of the crash. Braden was able to weave his way through, and flashed across the finish line in second behind Nasse.
Nasse celebrated in victory lane, but tech inspector Ricky Brooks found Nasse’s car in violation of a rule prohibiting titanium brake parts. Braden’s car passed inspection and he was declared the race winner.
Braden is a two-time ARCA/CRA Super Series winner and has finished in the top five in ARCA Menards Series championship points in each of the last two seasons. It was his first start the Snowball Derby.
“What does it mean to hold this trophy? I really don’t know, but in all reality, it’s one of those moments where I do know. It feels very special, but I can tell it’s going to feel more special with a little bit of time,” Braden told Speed51. “It stinks that we couldn’t have won the race outright, but I know these guys won the Snowball Derby. We brought a car here capable of winning this race outright.”
Although he won, it was a struggle for Braden just to get there. He was involved in a crash in practice just hours before qualifying and had to completely rebuild the right side of his racecar. He made repairs in time for qualifying and was the last driver to lock into the starting field on time, in 30th position.
“We had to replace an entire suspension on our car on the right side, we had to put a body on it, we thought the frame might have been bent, the front clip,” Braden explained to Speed51. “We weren’t able to check properly to know. To have gone through all of that, we showed up off the trailer a top five or top 10 car, no questions asked. We almost don’t make the race because of it. It’s cool to just have the opportunity to even race here.”
Three-time ARCA Menards Series winner Majeski was dominant throughout the night, leading twice for 139 laps. But as he led the field to a restart he was hit from behind keying off a huge multi-car crash. Majeski would end up 13th at the finish.
“At first I was going too slow,” Majeski said to Speed51. “Then they wanted me to pick up the pace. Then they wanted me to stay on the bottom. I can’t pick up the pace in three and stay on the bottom off four. No matter what I did, being the leader put me at a disadvantage.
“Casey (Roderick) just jacked me up there due to a slow restart. He’s obviously trying to win the race, too. He just jacked me up. I don’t know why we can’t do NASCAR-style. The leader fires in the box and whatever happens after that happens. It’s absolutely silly.”
Other ARCA drivers in the field included nine-time winner Chandler Smith, who finished sixth, former winner Casey Roderick in seventh, Road to Daytona participant Dalton Zehr in eleventh, 2020 ARCA Menards Series East rookie contender Giovani Bromante in sixteenth, 2020 road to Daytona participant Derek Kraus in eighteenth, Kaden Honeycutt in 26th, team owner David Gilliland in 27th, former Glass City 200 winner Augie Grill in 28th, Connor Okrzesik in 30th, former series winner Corey LaJoie in 31st, and Corey Heim in 36th.
(Photo credit Speed51.com)