Wheeling Native Travis Braden Racing His Way to TopCRA_admin
(Special from The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register)
Wheeling, West Virginia (Thursday, July 16, 2015): Travis Braden is giving the term ‘flying WV’ a brand new meaning.
The Wheeling native and WVU student is sponsored by the university in the ARCA/CRA Super Racing Series and has been flying around the track in the No. 01 West Virginia University Chevrolet in hopes of making it into the top three tiers of NASCAR.
“It is pretty special to have WVU on board, and I hope it continues to build,” Braden said. “I would love to take the flying WV logo with me all the way to the top of NASCAR. Our state and that logo are so well recognized no matter where you go, and it really adds a different aspect to the fan interactions for me. Everywhere I go there are always people who are from West Virginia or are just die hard fans, and so they are instantly my fan as well.”
Braden is the two-time reigning ARCA/CRA Super Series Champion. However this season, the 3.6 GPA student in mechanical and aerospace engineering is not pursuing a championship as his team is running a partial schedule that will call him to run in just the bigger Super Late Model events. Braden is hoping to race full-time in the ARCA Racing Series or the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East next season with Travis Braden Motorsports and car owner Don Braden. With the help of Ken Schrader Racing, he will make his ARCA Racing Series debut on July 24 at Lucas Oil Raceway at 9 p.m. on FOX Sports 2.
NASCAR, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, has different series around the world but its most popular three are in the United States. The Sprint Cup Series is the highest level of competition in the sport, then Xfinity Series, followed by the Truck Series.
“It is very complicated to compare my series to some NASCAR series,” Braden said. “The level of racing that I am completing at currently can at times be more competitive than the Sprint Cup Series in NASCAR, and is generally always more competitive than the Trucks or Xfinity series in NASCAR. But it is really hard to compare. Drivers like Erik Jones, Daniel Hemric, Ross Kenseth, Dalton Sargeant, William Byron, Chase Elliot have raced in this ARCA/CRA series. And time has proven that the drivers who were successful at this level, who are all listed above, have had no problem excelling in NASCAR. It is really just a matter of sponsorship money.”
Sprint Cup drivers like Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, David Ragan and more will race in the ARCA/CRA Super Series when their schedules allow. Last season in the Winchester 400, Braden battled with Erik Jones for the top position, where Jones just edged him out at the end. Jones drives for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Truck Series where he currently sits third in the point standings and drives for Joe Gibbs racing in the NASCAR Xfinity series.
“The simple fact is if you have the amount of sponsorship dollars you need, you can be racing at whatever level you want,” Braden said. “But that is obviously not so simple. My goal is to branch out into the ARCA Racing Series or the NASCAR K&N Pro Series next year and into either the NASCAR Trucks or Xfinity Series in 2017 or 2018. I have always been very confident that if I could just simply get to one of the top three tiers of NASCAR, my results would then make it much easier to solidify the rest of my career.”
While his team has been ever changing, Braden has had the solid nucleus for the last year and a half starting with crew chief Gary St. Amant. The crew chief has had much success as a driver, crew chief and fabricator in all levels of racing throughout the years. St. Amant once mentored a young Jimmie Johnson, before Johnson took off to make history in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Justin Withers works as his spotter and mechanic and James Kirby works as a mechanic.
All races in the ARCA/CRA Super Racing Series can be seen live onwww.speed51.com. For more information on his series go to cra-racing.com. In August, Braden will return to WVU as a student to finish up his degree.
“It is very hard to balance racing and school,” Braden said. “One will always slow down progress at the other. I have kept my grades very high so far but that has dramatically limited how much I am able to do in racing at times. But I feel my education is the most important thing. I hope that after graduation my career will be able to really start expanding.”