From ARCA PR…
(BROWNSBURG, Ind. – July 24, 2015) – Don Braden said he never went to the racetrack where he didn’t think his son, Travis Braden, didn’t have a chance to win.
So, when Braden, 21, fell a lap down early in Friday’s Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 at Lucas Oil Raceway, there might have been a few shrugs, but no one in the Braden pit was about to give up.
“I knew we would have a chance, but the way it played out I could never have imagined that,” Travis Braden said. “I was confident we would get back on the lead lap, but I didn’t know how I was going to get the lead.”
Braden was more than four seconds behind leader William Byron with 50 laps to go, caught and passed him with 20 laps to go and won by 3.142 seconds. It was a somewhat stunning win for a first-year team who has been putting together a car for this opportunity all season.
“When I got into second, I couldn’t even see the No. 55. It took a while until I thought that hopefully I could get to him. It just played out perfectly. … Everything worked perfect.”
A two-time ARCA/CRA Super Series champion, Braden won in his ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards debut. He finished ahead of Byron, also making his ARCA debut, Tom Hessert, J.J. Haley and Brandon Jones. Braden led the final 21 laps in capturing the win.
Josh Williams was sixth, polesitter Kyle Weatherman seventh, ARCA point leader Grant Enfinger eighth, Austin Wayne Self ninth and Chase Briscoe, another driver making his ARCA debut, finished 10th. Briscoe was the last car on the lead lap and one position higher than Ken Schrader.
Weatherman had the fastest car in each of the two practice sessions earlier in the day Friday, then went out last in Menard Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell and won the pole. He was fast out of the gate, leading the first 50 laps until Byron grabbed the lead in the No. 55 Liberty University car. Byron led on three different occasions for 120 laps, the most in Friday’s event.
“One time I came on the radio, I think about lap 80, and just said how fun this was,” Byron said.
“Everything was new to me. It was just fun. The guys gave me a great race car at Venturini Motorsports. I just can’t thank Liberty University enough for coming on board and giving me this opportunity to race. This was a new track for me, so I learned a lot out there.”
He had a battle for the lead with Venturini teammate Jones, who led nine laps on the night, the third straight race that he’s led at least a lap.
“It’s not a bad night at all,” Jones said. “Going green that long killed us. It’s good. We’ll go to the next one and see if we can get that one.”
Hessert, by finishing third, was able to gain some points on series point leader Grant Enfinger.
“I’m proud of our team,” Hessert said. “We came here last week and tested…really struggled. We kind of totally changed our racecar in set up and came back and were pretty good today.”
One of the key’s to Braden’s win was his crew chief, Matt Weber, deciding to take four tires on Braden’s pit stop instead of two. Most teams elected to put two new tires on their car at that point of the race, figuring a caution would come out late in the race and give teams a chance to put on four fresh Hoosiers for a final stretch.
Only, that didn’t happen as the race stayed green.
“On the long runs we were really good,” Hessert said. “We took two tires. That’s still the right call. If we had to do the race over, you still take two.”
Haley was pleased with the effort of his team after a top five run. The No. 74 Braun Auto Group Chevrolet started 34th when the car didn’t get through a pre-qualifying inspection line in the proper time. Haley was inside the top 10 within 24 laps and was in the top five for most of the race.
“I was afraid of those long green flag runs,” Haley said. “It’s Lucas Oil Raceway and that happens here.”
The race took 1 hour and 37 minutes to complete. There were four cautions for 35 laps.
As for the tires, Braden said he didn’t know why his crew chief made the call for four tires early, but was happy the way it all played out.
“At the time I was frustrated because I didn’t think that was the right call,” he said. “We had made an adjustment 50 laps into the race. I felt like our best chance would have been to stay out and have even tires. I can’t believe how it played out. If the caution would have come out we would have probably finished last on the lead lap.”
The ARCA Racing Series next heads to Pocono Raceway for a 50-lap shootout on Saturday, Aug. 1. The race will be televised on Fox Sports 2.