TOLEDO, Ohio (Aug. 2, 2017) -- As is often the case, there's more to the story than meets the eye. As reported Wednesday afternoon at arcaracing.com, Travis Braden will indeed drive the RFMS Racing 27 Ford at Winchester Speedway this weekend. While Braden didn't get the call until Wednesday morning, the conversation actually began weeks ago.
"Me and Andy Hillenburg had been talking for the last few weeks about me getting in the 10 car," said AJ Fike.
"I started my ARCA career with Andy…we ran a full season together in 2004. He didn't have anyone to drive the car and we wanted to help him out. Travis had already tested the 27 at Lucas Oil and Winchester is one of his best tracks, so it made sense to put him in the 27 this weekend...at the same time, we had the opportunity to help Andy. He gave me my start here years ago.
"It's probably a one-off deal…I'm trying to help him out and at the same time, hopefully Travis can give the 27 a good run at Winchester. It's a really a situation where everyone's trying to help everyone out, to keep both programs going…hopefully it works out for all of us."
And of course, Fike will in fact be right back in the 27 saddle at the next ARCA event on tour -- the 55th running of the Herr's Potato Chips 100 on the Springfield mile dirt two weeks after Winchester.
Fike, from Galesburg, Ill., considers Springfield his home track and is always one of the most popular local racers in the line-up. Fike won the ARCA race at Springfield in 2015 and is also a two-time Silver Crown Tony Bettenhausen 100 winner at Springfield.
Fike finished seventh in ARCA championship standings in 2004, driving for Hillenburg. Fike, with eight events left in 2017, is currently eighth in series standings.
But first things first with a big three-day racing weekend ahead at legendary Winchester Speedway.
The Winchester ARCA 200 serves as the grand finale in an action-packed race weekend that begins Friday with the Winchester Old Timers vintage race car club, Vore's FWD Compact cars, Thunder Roadsters and Modifieds. On Saturday, the CRA Street Stocks join the race card alongside the Old Timers club, Thunder Roadsters, ARCA Racing Series practice and General Tire Pole Award Qualifying. The festive weekend culminates with the Winchester ARCA 200 grand finale Sunday afternoon. The Winchester Old Timers Club is on hand all three days.
ARCA History at Winchester
The ARCA Racing Series reaches way back at Winchester – to 1957 when Don O’Dell won the inaugural event in 1957. Ten-time series champion Frank Kimmel is the leading ARCA winner at Winchester with six victories (1996, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2013) followed by three-time series champ Tim Steele, who won four times (1993, 1995, 1997, 2001). 1988 series champion Tracy Leslie won twice at Winchester in 1988 and 1999. Leslie’s son Billy Leslie, with his father spotting, won from the pole in 2007. Cunningham Motorsports went back-to-back as winners with Dakoda Armstrong in 2011 and Alex Bowman in 2012, and repeated with Chase Briscoe in 2016.
Other ARCA winners at Winchester include Jack Bowsher (1964), Ralph Latham (1972), Bobby Watson (1972) and two-time series champion Marvin Smith, who won back-to-back races in 1982 and 1983, Bob Keselowski (1990), Gary Bradberry (1994), Bob Strait (1998), Brandon Jones (2014) and Austin Wayne Self (2015).
The Winchester ARCA 200 will be tape-delayed on MAVTV, airing initially August 19 at 10 p.m. Eastern, and again on August 26 at 10 p.m. Follow live coverage of all the ARCA on-track activities at Winchester with Live audio, timing and scoring and Live chat at arcaracing.com Saturday and Sunday.