AUDIO/RECAP; First Day of Class; Braden Takes The Field to School in Closing Laps to Win ARCA Debut at LOR

Kyle Magda ARCA, Audio, Featured, Midwest, Stock Cars 0 Comments

CLERMONT, Ind. — Audio, photo and recap and Race Chaser Online Associate Editor Kyle Magda —

Two-time and defending ARCA/CRA Super Series champion Travis Braden may have known a thing or two about how to save his equipment for Friday night’s Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 at Lucas Oil Raceway.

Braden pitted for four tires on the race’s final caution on lap 110 and the No. 01 West Viigina Chevrolet was on offense for the rest of the evening. While everyone else used up their tires, the green flag stayed out and Braden made up a five-second deficit to leader William Byron in a 30-lap span to take the lead for good with 20 laps to go en route to his first career series win in his ARCA Racing Series by Menards debut.

“With 90 to go, we took four tires and nobody else took tires,” Braden said. “At the time, I was kind of frustrated. I didn’t think that was the right call. Once we raced up through there and got into second, I couldn’t even see the 55 [car]. I knew that we had time if we were faster. but I didn’t know if we were faster or not.”

“It took a while until I really thought we were going to be able to get there in time and hopefully do something with him. It just played out perfect.”

The 20-year-old driver missed a shift on the race’s initial start and weaved his way in-and-out of traffic in the last 90 laps to gain more than nine seconds during that time. Braden tested at Lucas Oil Raceway the week before in preparation for his ARCA Racing Series debut.

“Had a few hiccups there with lapped traffic that almost caught us big time,” Braden said. “I missed a shift coming to the green flag in this race and ever since then, everything went perfect, literally. The cars we got, we were getting a lot of help from Ken Schrader Racing. They helped us find those cars, they’re good cars, just like their cars.”

“We bought the car in April and we worked on it all summer. We didn’t really have the budget to race around our way, but we got it going. About a month ago, we got down to Charlotte and Matt [Weber] started to help me finish things up, get it the way it needs to be on setups late and stuff. We came here and tested a week ago and here we are in victory lane a week later. I don’t know what to say.”

Braden’s crew chief, Matt Weber, worked with Mason Mitchell Motorsports and Venturini Motorsports in 2014 and amassed three wins during the season. Weber guided eventual 2014 ARCA champ Mitchell to his first career series win last July at Chicagoland and was on the pit box for VMS wins at Springfield with Kevin Swindell and at Kentucky with current NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Brennan Poole.

At one point in the Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200, Braden was lapped by leader Byron, but fought his way back to make it  a battle between the college cars, with Byron sporting the Liberty University colors on his No. 55 Toyota.

The K&N Pro Series East leader led a total of 120 laps and also made his ARCA Series debut for Venturini Motorsports. Byron started the race in second spot and grabbed the lead from pole-sitter Kyle Weatherman on lap 51 to get out front for the first time on the night.

“It was cool like to figure out the differences in the aerodynamics,” Byron said of his debut. “This is a small track but you still have some air involved, so just love racing these cars and love racing in general.”

“It was fun. One time I came on the radio like lap 80 and was like this is so much fun, but it was a lot of fun out there.”

The No. 55 pit crew put two tires on Byron’s machine, but the lost the lead to Brandon Jones on pit road during the race’s first caution on lap 65. Byron got by Jones on lap 74 and set sail for a while, until Braden’s four tires and car came to him in the closing stages of the race.

“We thought we were playing the right strategy and we were if there was a caution, but never usually goes green like that,” Byron said. “I had a blast out there, regardless, so, just proud to bring home a top-two finish for these guys. First race in the ARCA Racing Series, sothis just is a lot of fun.”

Friday night was also the first time the regular NASCAR K&N East competitor did live pit stops in his racing career.

It appeared the top-three finishers for a while were going to be no older than 17 years old, but Cunningham Motorsports driver Tom Hessert broke up the teenager party by getting around 16-year-old J.J. Haley with 17 laps to go and take home a third-place finish.

“We didn’t get it as bad as everybody else,” Hessert said. “The car stayed around a little longer and ended up pretty darn good. I think it’s typical of this place, everybody just gets kind of tight and you saw that on long runs. Fortunately, we were better than most, but it was a good night for us.”

J.J. Haley started 33rd after his No. 74 team went past the five-minute clock for pre-qualifying tech and wheeled the Braun Auto Group Chevrolet to fourth. Haley ran as high as second before dropping to fourth in the final finishing order. He drove the same car that defending race winner Brandon Jones took to victory lane and the former Turner Scott Motorsports driver in Jones finished right behind Haley in fifth in the No. 25 Ansell/Menards Toyota.

Josh Williams, Kyle Weatherman, ARCA points leader Grant Enfinger Austin Wayne Self and Chase Briscoe, another driver who made his ARCA Racing Series presented by y Menards debut, completed the top-10.

Brian Keselowski finished 13th in his first series race since August 2012 at Berlin Raceway in Michigan.

The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards travels next to Pocono Raceway for the 61st event there for the ModSpace 125. The race follows the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event on Saturday, August 1 and be shown live on FOX Sports 2. Justin Allison is the defending winner of the race.

 

Audio with race winner Travis Braden:

Audio with second-place William Byron:

Audio with third-place Tom Hessert:

 

RESULTS: ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards; Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200; July 24, 2015

  1. Travis Braden
  2. William Byron
  3. Tom Hessert
  4. J.J. Haley
  5. Brandon Jones
  6. Josh Williams
  7. Kyle Weatherman
  8. Grant Enfinger
  9. Austin Wayne Self
  10. Chase Briscoe
  11. Ken Schrader
  12. A.J. Fike
  13. Brian Keselowski
  14. Bobby Gerhart
  15. Clayton Weatherman
  16. Matt Wallace
  17. Bo LeMastus
  18. Sarah Cornett-Ching
  19. Thomas Praytor
  20. Scott Reeves
  21. Dale Shearer
  22. David Levine
  23. Jordan Williams
  24. Richard Hauck
  25. Tyler Miles
  26. James Swanson
  27. Chris Lafferty
  28. Brian Finney
  29. Con Nicolopoulos
  30. Josh White
  31. Michael Lira
  32. Mark Meunier
  33. Kevin Campbell
  34. Mike Abram

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