Indianapolis, Indiana (Saturday, January 3, 2015): With the calendar officially turning over to 2015 there was still one event remaining to officially close out the 2014 racing season for Champion Racing Association (CRA) Powered by JEGS. The 2014 CRA Awards Banquet was on Saturday, January 3rd as the Crowne Plaza Indianapolis Downtown at Union Station located in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana hosted the gala event. The top 10 teams in 2014 points from the ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS, JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance, Vore’s Welding CRA Late Model Sportsman Series Powered by JEGS and the Stealth Trailers CRA Street Stocks Series Powered by JEGS were all honored as over $200,000 in awards, cash and prizes were distributed throughout the evening.
Highlighting the evening was the crowning of the 2014 ARCA/CRA Super Series Champion; 20-year-old Travis Braden officially received his accolades for their second consecutive championship. He joins three-time series champion, Johnny VanDoorn (2009, 2010 & 2012) as the only driver in ARCA/CRA Super Series history to repeat as champion. The Wheeling, West Virginia driver overcame a slow start with three DNF’s in the first three races of the season by never finishing outside of the top five for the remainder of the year, 11 consecutive top five finishes to close out the season, en route to repeating as champion in his #01 West Virginia University / Braden’s A-1 Towing & Collision / Chevrolet.
Braden collected two wins including an emotional triumph at his home track of Columbus Motor Speedway (OH) on August 2nd in the Inaugural Bud St. Amant Memorial 174. He backed that win up two weeks later in the 7-Up 125 at Flat Rock Speedway (MI). The Mountaineer State driver, who turns 21 on March 5th, also collected a season high of his previously mentioned 11 top five finishes which accounted for his 11 top 10 showings. He also led 331 laps in ARCA/CRA events during the season, good for second highest overall and tops in the 100-125 Lap events during the year. Braden was also officially crowned the 2014 JEGS Triple Crown Series Champion as well as the Inaugural Boyne Machine Company Michigan Challenge Series Champion and the Speed51.com Most Popular Driver Award.
Ross Kenseth brought home the 2014 Runner-Up honors in his #77 Boyne Machine Company / Enterprise Iron & Metal / Ford. The Little Chute, Wisconsin standout actually went winless in 2014 but the 21-year-old kept his title hopes alive all season with five top five finishes, including a season high showing of a third at Anderson Speedway (IN) on April 26th. He also scored an impressive 12 top 10 finishes, tops amongst all drivers and 13 top 15 finishes, also highest amongst all drivers. He also picked up one EDCO Welding Fast Qualifier Award, which came at Flat Rock Speedway (MI).
The final driver on the podium was also the 2014 Senneker Performance Rookie of the Year, Wes Griffith Jr., who at 47 years old became the oldest Rookie of the Year in CRA’s 18-year history. The Crown Point, Indiana driver also finished third overall in the final points standings in his #33 Solid Steel Incorporated / Steel Dynamics Incorporated / Ford. He picked up one top five finish, which was a fourth at Columbus Motor Speedway (OH) in the Inaugural Bud St. Amant Memorial 174 along-with nine top 10 finishes and one EDCO Welding Fast Qualifier Award, which came at Berlin Raceway (MI). Griffith Jr., also earned the 2014 Cometic Gaskets Hard-Charger Award for the season as well.
A second rookie finished in the top four in the final points as 17-year-old Paul Shafer Jr., who will turn 18 on February 17th, finished fourth overall and was the 2014 Rookie Runner-Up. The Portage, Indiana teenager picked up two top fives, with a second place effort at Lucas Oil Raceway (IN) in the CRA Fall Brawl 2014. He also had six top 10 finishes. Completing the top five in the final was 56-year-old Rick Turner who scored one top five finish, a second place in the World Stock Car Festival at Winchester Speedway (IN) along-with five top 10s. The Yorktown, Indiana veteran was also honored with Darrell Teal Memorial Dedication Award as well as the Speed Media Sportsman of the Year Award.
Sixth through 10th in the final owners points standings was Scott Neal Racing who had four different competitors compete this season. Ali Kern ended up being the primary driver while Neal himself as well as Mark Lambert and Dalton Armstrong all raced in the SNR prepared machines. Canadian Rookie Brandon Watson was seventh while Brian Campbell was eighth with two Wins coming at Toledo Speedway (OH) on April 12th and Berlin Raceway (MI) on May 31st. He also picked up one EDCO Welding Fast Qualifier Award, which came at Columbus. R&D Racing with primary driver, Nick Gullatta as well as Brett Robinson was ninth in the standings while Brandon Oakley, who scored his first career Win and EDCO Welding Fast Qualifier Award at his home track of Kil-Kare Raceway (OH) on September 14th.
Drivers picking up victories who finished outside of the final top 10 in points included NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star, Kyle Busch (2) who scored two wins in two starts with those coming at Lucas Oil Raceway (IN) in the Circle City 100 on July 25th and in the Kalamazoo Klash 100 on August 13th at Kalamazoo Speedway (MI). Daniel Hemric also grabbed two wins with those coming at Anderson Speedway (IN) on June 14th in the Redbud 300 as well as at Lucas Oil Raceway (IN) in the 2014 CRA Fall Brawl on September 28th.
Amongst the drivers picking up single victories during the season was 2014 NASCAR Nationwide Series Champion, Chase Elliott who won at Watermelon Capital Speedway (GA) on January 26th in SpeedFest 2014. Three-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner, Erik Jones repeated as Winchester 400 winner on October 12th at Winchester Speedway (IN). Johnny VanDoorn won the Battle at Berlin 251 at Berlin Raceway (MI) on July 19th.
2014 ARCA Midwest Tour Champion, Ty Majeski won the second ARCA/CRA Super Series vs ARCA Midwest Tour combination race at Illiana Motor Speedway (IN) on May 26th while Cody Coughlin won the World Stock Car Festival headliner at Winchester Speedway (IN) on September 1st. T.J. Reaid was also a winner, for the third year in a row, in the spring race at Anderson Speedway (IN) on April 26th.
EDCO Welding Fast Qualifier Award Winners during the year who finished outside of the top 10 in points were led by Chad Finley who was the only driver during the year to win more than one Fast Qualifier Award. Those came at Toledo Speedway (OH) in the 7-Up 150, the first ARCA/CRA Super Series vs ARCA Midwest Tour combination race on April 12th and at Lucas Oil Raceway (IN) during the 2014 CRA Fall Brawl on September 27th during Qualifying Day.
Picking up single awards were; Johnny Sauter-Watermelon Capital Speedway (GA) on January 25th, T.J. Reaid-Anderson Speedway (IN) on April 26th, Chris Weinkauf-Illiana Motor Speedway (IN) on May 26th, Daniel Hemric-Anderson Speedway (IN) on June 14th, Johnny VanDoorn-Berlin Raceway (MI) on July 19th, Willie Allen-Lucas Oil Raceway (IN) on July 25th, Kyle Busch-Kalamazoo Speedway (MI) on August 13th, Anderson Bowen-Winchester Speedway (IN) on August 31st and Erik Jones-Winchester Speedway (IN) on October 11th.
The 2015 Racing Season begins for the ARCA/CRA Super Series as well as the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance on Saturday-Sunday, January 24-25th. The fast 4/10s (0.400) mile semi-banked paved oval of Watermelon Capital Speedway, located south of Macon and north of the Florida / Georgia state line in Cordele, Georgia hosts SpeedFest 2015. Both premier tours within CRA will head south to kick off the New Year with the non-points weekend in the Peach State. The ARCA/CRA Super Series will race in the running of SpeedFest 200 while the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour will compete in SpeedFest 125. An optional Practice Day has been reserved for Friday, January 23rd.
For more information about the fast approaching 2015 racing season for all four touring series’ within Champion Racing Association Powered by JEGS, go to the series website at: www.cra-racing.com You can also follow along with all of CRA’s touring series’ all season long on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/ChampionRacingAssociation and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CRAracing Finally for more information about Watermelon Capital Speedway, the host track for SpeedFest 2015, go to the track website at: www.watermeloncapitalspeedway.com
-CRA Racing Press Release. Photo Credit: Speed51.com