Tempers often flare after incidents in the heat of the moment in short track racing, especially when marquee wins are on the line. However, those emotions often subside after a couple of days of reflection away from the race track.
For Boris Jurkovic and Travis Braden after their run-in at the Battle at Berlin 251 at Berlin Raceway, that is not the case.
Late in the race at the Marne, Michigan facility, Braden and Jurkovic traded paint while battling for the lead. Their on-track battle led to both drivers nearly collecting the outside wall in turn four at one occasion, opening the door for Johnny VanDoorn and Kyle Crump to move to their inside.
The ensuing four-wide formation quickly devolved into chaos, with Braden getting the worst of the ordeal, sandwiched between Jurkovic and VanDoorn before careening into the outside wall in turn one.
Jurkovic carried on to win the race, holding off Crump, Brian Campbell and VanDoorn for the win. The Battle at Berlin 251 winner joined Speed51’s “The Morning Bullring” on Monday after winning the event, sanctioned by the Champion Racing Association. Jurkovic discussed the win, as well as his take on the late-race incident.
“Earlier in the race, when I went by, he made his stuff a little wide, went up the race track and tried to come back down,” Jurkovic said. “At that point, I was a little worried about him starting on the inside of me, so I figured I’d take the bottom. On the restart, I used him up a little bit to get by him. The next corner he roughed me up pretty good. Then, going into three, I think he forgot where the brake pedal was. Put us both in the fence, just about, let a couple cars get underneath us.”
“Emotions are high at that point, I get it,” he added. “Hopefully, he thought about it. It is what it is. Hopefully, everybody’s alright.”
Shortly after the conclusion of Monday’s show, Braden – aware of Jurkovic’s comments – posted a rebuttal on Twitter.
Social media is wild. Wish I had a chance to get on show so y'all had the whole story. I didn't forget where brake pedal is. Had every intention 2 use Boris as my brakes after getting run over by him all night (& past 6+ yrs). Every1 knows I don't drive like tht unless u do 1st🤷🏼♂️ https://t.co/KZcNLps0T9
— Travis Braden (@TrBraden) August 19, 2019
In an interview with Speed51, Braden offered his take on the buildup to the incident which ultimately ended his night. While he believed the four-wide clash itself wasn’t any one driver’s fault, he felt earlier incidents with Jurkovic in the race precipitated their final meeting.
“The wreck itself, I don’t even see that as anyone’s fault,” Braden began. “I see that as a product of racing. I think it’s a little bit of bias on his part to say I ran him up the track.
“If you actually go back and look, I was the leader and I was out ahead, he was to my door, so I had the preferred position and I could choose whichever lane I wanted. When he was the leader on the inside, I was nosed down on the outside of him. I had the position and I had the lane. He didn’t just move up a little like I did, he just drove right into the outside of my car.
“This is also, mind you after the restart right after the rain delay, we got going there and the first lap he drove right into one, straight into my left-rear, knocked me up the race track and carried on,” he added. “That’s fine, that’s racing. At that point, I had to make a decision. Nice guys in racing always finish last. I have to give him that back if I get the opportunity. I almost didn’t, because I didn’t think we’d get the caution at the end.”
Braden reiterated that his choice of racing line in turn four was anything but driver error.
“I heard his comment about ‘forgot where the brake pedal was.’ I can tell you I knew exactly where it was and I had no intention of using the brake pedal and every intention of doing what I did,” Braden said. “The only thing I regret is that I’m not used to having to drive people that way, so I’m not very good at it. I didn’t get the job done. He went on to win the race and I have a wrecked race car. I suck at driving dirty, obviously.
“I felt there was more push on his end than mine and I had to push back,” Braden added. “I used to give people the benefit of the doubt more. My mentality now is that if you run me up the race track, expect I’m going to do it back to you and I’m going to do it worse. We’re going to get even, but I’m going to get the better of you.”
Braden maintained he is a fan of hard racing, but felt he needed to stick up for himself against Jurkovic because of the growing history between the two.
“Over the years, I’ve only raced with Boris head-to-head a couple of times,” he said. “It’s like racing with Ryan Newman when you’re with Boris. He doesn’t give you any room. He wants to be where he’s at and where you’re at. That’s fine, I don’t have a problem with it. I’m sure we’ll be racing together a lot, so I have to show I’m not going to deal with it.”
While Braden did not get the better of Jurkovic in Saturday’s results, it did provide an exciting finish for fans. Jurkovic was stunned to find grip while running against the outside wall as part of his encounter with Braden.
“I was really surprised when we got up there that there was still grip up there,” Jurkovic said. “I couldn’t believe it. We drove out of it and saw Johnny down there on the bottom. I figured if we were going to win, we had to get back in the gas even though we were in the rocks.”
That excitement is something Braden takes as a positive from the ordeal, able to swallow the disappointment of a crash to know people are talking about Saturday’s race 48 hours later.
“Hopefully, everyone got some entertainment out of it,” Braden said. “We have a little bit of a wrecked race car out of it. I’m not sure where we’ll go next, but hopefully we’ll be out here soon with Team Platinum.
“If we all ran that race single-file, that’s no fun. I think it’s great. It shows that short track racing is alive and well. I’m glad to be a part of it. I’m a little bummed we tore up a race car, but I don’t blame anyone for my car getting wrecked. I don’t think anyone was more at fault there, that was just a result.”
Race fans who missed Jurkovic’s interview can click here to watch an on-demand replay of “The Morning Bullring.”
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo