TOLEDO, Ohio (Sept. 29, 2017) -- Wheeling, W.V.'s Travis Braden (No. 27 Don Fike-owned Ford) is the latest entry received at the home office for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season finale at Kansas Speedway Oct. 20.
Braden initially subbed in the MatrixCare-Consonus Healthcare-Liberty Village 27 car at Winchester Speedway where he responded with a solid fourth-place finish in his first attempt in the car. Then Braden got the call to run the same short track car at Chicagoland and Kentucky where he finished 11th and 8th respectively. Braden also led 12 laps at Chicagoland and was in the top-five late in the going before he fell back on older tires.
All the while getting his late models ready for next weekend's Winchester 400, Braden's been in Fike's RFMS Racing shop in Brownsburg, Ind. a couple days each week to help prepare a newer purpose-built intermediate 27 car for Kansas.
"That's the plan," said Braden. "I talked with Don (Fike) and he's on the same page with that. I'm really excited. This is a huge opportunity for me at the very least to run these extra races and to be able to take advantage of the seat-time. Things are looking very positive over there."
The car that Braden raced at Chicagoland and Kentucky was the team's 2017 short track car. Crew chief Dan Glauz and car chief Casey Swift are in the process of preparing a different car for Kansas, one geared toward intermediate tracks.
"The car we raced at Chicagoland and Kansas was their short track car all year…it wasn't exactly in a perfect world on the mile-and-a-halves; but it was fantastic at Chicagoland…best I had ever driven on these tracks. I'm really looking forward to taking a dedicated mile-and-a-half car to Kansas."
Braden, a two-time ARCA/CRA Super Series champion and defending Winchester 400 champion, is still getting his feet wet on ARCA's intermediate speedway tracks.
"These tracks are really tactical…a lot of momentum and a lot of finesse. Totally different than a short track. To make these cars really fast on the intermediates is really difficult. But the equipment coming out of the 27 shop is absolutely capable of winning races…it's really nice stuff."
In the meantime, Braden is focused on what's coming next Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 6-7-8) at world-famous Winchester Speedway -- the 46th annual Winchester 400. Braden is the defending Winchester 400 champion. In fact, Braden swept both late model races last year at Winchester, becoming the only human in history to win the JEGS CRA All-Stars Tours race and the ARCA/CRA Super Series Winchester 400 race, all in the same weekend. Braden, who drives the No. 26 Team Platinum car for team owner Myna Burba, will be attempting the same "double" next weekend. Burba owns the Platinum Express trucking company. The car also carries sponsorship from Brands Truck Insurance.
"Myna is really into it…she goes to all the races. We're going to be racing for the sweep…running the JEGS Series and the Super Series. We won both races last year…we're coming with two 26-cars…I'm at the shop today helping our guys get everything ready."
The Winchester 400 annually attracts Winchester's biggest crowd of the year. According to Braden, the event is still growing.
"I've raced in five Winchester 400s…should of won two other ones, but it's been growing every year. I would put the Winchester 400 in the same category as the All-American 400 (Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville). The Snowball Derby stands on its own."
Braden's already been to victory lane in 2017, winning three consecutive ARCA/CRA Super Series races at Lucas Oil Raceway, Kil-Kare Raceway and the prestigious Kalamazoo Klash at Kalamazoo Speedway.
The Winchester 400 will stream live at Speed51.com.