ARCA Menards Series regular Travis Braden will be getting back behind the wheel of a Super Late Model Monday night, June 10 for the Money in the Bank 150 at Berlin Raceway (MI). It will be the two-time ARCA/CRA Super Series champion’s first start in the three-year history of the growing event.
The Wheeling, West Virginia driver has been a model of consistency in the ARCA Menards Series so far in 2019. He has finished in the top 10 in all but two races to this point, and on a few different occasions he has led the series points standings with low-budget RFMS Racing. With his ARCA schedule allowing him to make only select Late Model starts with Team Platinum, the Money in the Bank 150 was at the top of his list.
“The Berlin stuff has been something we’ve always done, especially the bigger shows like the 251 and now the Money in the Bank,” Braden told Speed51. “This year with the ARCA schedule, we’ve tried to fit in as many Late Model races as we could. Being it’s on a Monday makes it easy because we don’t race on Mondays. For those reasons, we decided to go hit it this year.”
Braden and Team Platinum recently made the trip to Marne, Michigan for the 75-lap Super Late Model feature on Memorial Day weekend, finishing second to Boris Jurkovic. Having finished second in each of his last two Late Model starts, he is surprised he has been able to get re-acclimated to one in such short time.
“It’s always fun, and surprisingly you pick it back up almost instantly,” he said. “I went a week or so ago and raced one of their local shows. It was a brand-new car, never been choked out, I had never sat in it, new seat and everything, and it only took about a half a lap and I felt comfortable. With so many years racing Late Models, I guess you never forget what it’s like.”
For Monday’s race, Braden will have a teammate at Team Platinum in former Columbus Motor Speedway champion Kyle Jones. Both drivers finished in the top five in the 75-lap feature Memorial Day weekend. Braden hopes he and Jones will be able to work together come Monday night.
“When we were there for the weekly show, we were not really at the same speed and it wasn’t really a factor as far as working with each other throughout the race,” Braden said. “I’m hoping that we’re both top-five cars come Monday and if that’s the case, we can potentially work together and share information about what we know is going on and who seems like they’re saving and who’s pushing because that’s a big factor in these long races at Berlin once the tires fall off.”
Having won a JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour race at Berlin in 2013, Braden acknowledges that the 7/16-mile is one of the toughest race tracks he competes at year in and year out. He says a good car is key to winning, but he also believes the track allows drivers to adjust on the fly and still be competitive.
“It’s a tough place so you got to have a good car,” he said. “You can make up for a car that’s lacking a little bit at Berlin because you have so many options but you have to be close. If you are close and you figure out what you have to do, whether it’s a line you have to use or whatever, then you got to save your stuff.”
The biggest draw for drivers like Travis Braden to the Money in the Bank 150 is the massive $20,000 payday that goes to the winner of the race, as well as the unique one-day format.
In the two previous editions of the race, drivers like NASCAR Cup Series stars Kyle Busch and Erik Jones have competed against some of Super Late Model racing’s best in previous race winners Bubba Pollard and Brian Campbell. Throw in what Braden considers the toughest group of local drivers in the country, and it makes for a tough race to win.
“Obviously, you got the money. That’s a huge thing if you can win that $20,000. And bragging rights, you get a lot of people that come,” he said. “Guys like Bubba Pollard come all the way from down south. Berlin is probably the toughest track in the country that I know of in terms of locals that will run the race. The locals are tough and there’s a lot of them that are really tough. It’s arguably a tougher field than some of the touring series races around the country at times. It’s always a place where you want to go win any race, and with this being one of the biggest paying and biggest hyped-up races, it’s one of the ones you want to win.”
A live pay-per-view broadcast of the Money in the Bank 150 will be available for $19.99 on Speed51.com. Live video tickets can be purchased today by clicking here.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com