SALEM, Ind. – official series release — CRA Racing photo —
Travis Braden, the 2014 ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS champion, received an early Christmas present last Friday, when for the third year in a row he got to turn laps at Daytona Int’l Speedway in an ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards car at the annual December Daytona test for the touring series.
“It was a good time as always, like getting an early Christmas present,” said the West Virginia University Engineering student. “Being my third time now to do the test, I was kind of amazed at how comfortable I am now. As crazy as it sounds, it tends to not really feel like you are going 185 mph just because of how massive this place is.”
Braden got to do the test as part of ARCA’s Road to Daytona program, which awards the points champions of the ARCA/CRA Super Series and the ARCA Midwest Tour with the test after each season. This was Braden’s third time getting to do the test, he did it first in 2012 after being the ARCA/CRA Super Series Rookie of the Year and last year after winning his first series championship.
“Because of qualifying now being run in batches of multiple cars, single car runs have become pretty irrelevant with the series and so focusing on the draft is really what drivers want to do and learn from,” said Braden. “There actually was a little bit of a difference it seemed with the new Ilmor Engine package this year in the draft. It feels like the larger engine is more forgiving in terms of staying in the draft. Even from a very large margin, you can latch on and reel in a car a good ways ahead. The Ilmor Engine also has a dramatic increase in acceleration. Reaching top speed doesn’t seem to take three laps as it did in previous years.
Braden was the ninth fastest out of 30 cars that participated in Friday morning’s session on the track.
“Overall I tried to learn as much as I could as a driver, which is hard to do without actually being in the race where you’re around 20 other cars. Nonetheless, I had a great time gathering information from the guys at Kimmel Racing and the Ilmor engineers who were collecting the data from the EFI system,” Braden said. “I appreciate the opportunity to do this test for the past three years from everyone who makes it possible at CRA, ARCA, and their partners in this program Ilmor Engines, Hoosier Tire, Sunoco and Five Star Racecar Bodies. I would also like to thank Kimmel Racing for providing the car for the program and for all their help in making my test possible.”
Bill Kimmel, an eight-time ARCA Cometic Crew Chief of the Year winner and eight-time ARCA champion crew chief, and current series team owner, prepared the cars for the Daytona test and assisted Braden along with his son Will, one of the drivers for Kimmel Racing.
ARCA Midwest Tour Champion Ty Majeski also got to participate in the test during Friday afternoon’s session.
CREDIT: Champion Racing Association