Florida Speedweeks is a time when race car drivers from many different disciplines make their way to the Sunshine State to compete at a variety of race tracks. Oftentimes, drivers compete at more than one race track in more than one type of race car. One driver that fits into that category this year is Travis Braden.
After beginning his second full-time season in the ARCA Racing Series on Saturday at the Daytona International Speedway, Braden will now turn his attention to his Super Late Model for the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway starting Monday night.
The World Series has always been an event Braden has wanted to compete in, but until this year he has been unable to do so. This year, he will be competing with Team Platinum, the same Late Model team he has raced for since 2015. He and team owner Bill Burba have seen success together in their time, having won three JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour races and four ARCA/CRA Super Series races, including the 2016 Winchester 400.
“I’ve always considered doing it but it was something that never worked out back when I used to race for myself and the last couple years racing for Team Platinum,” Braden told Speed51.com. “We’ve just always been a little behind schedule at that time of year to get prepared. This year, they gave me a call and said we’re going to go down and race a few, and if you can, come down and race a couple nights with us in the Late Model. I was really fortunate that my ARCA team owners at RFMS Racing, Don Fike and Misty Fike, they were nice enough to let me do it as well and stick around town for a few extra days to do it. It all worked out.”
Braden did not compete at New Smyrna the first two nights due to his ARCA obligations just up the road at Daytona International Speedway. When it comes time to compete in the Super Late Model, he feels like he will be at a slight disadvantage due to the lack of seat time in a Late Model recently.
In 2018, he made three starts behind the wheel of a Late Model, scoring top-five finishes in an ARCA/CRA Super Series race at Kalamazoo Speedway (MI) and a JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour race at Lucas Oil Raceway (IN).
“I haven’t seen the full entry list but I’ve seen a couple of the names that will be there and it looks to be a really stout field there,” Braden stated. “I haven’t really been in a Late Model a whole lot the past year or so, so that’s a little challenge. If you really think about it, I haven’t really had any seat time in the past three or four months, and a lot of the guys have run the Derby and the Red Eye and stuff like that. I feel like I’m a little rustier this time of year than some of the other guys might be.
“That’s part of the reason that Team Platinum offered to give me the ride for the week down there,” Braden continued. “They’re behind me one-hundred percent and they want to see me do well this year in the ARCA Racing Series, and they feel like giving me the opportunity for some extra seat time to knock the rust off early in the season before we actually hit any of the short tracks in the ARCA Series is always going to be beneficial. We’re here to race and we’re here to win but it’s also a good opportunity to get some more seat time and get myself prepared for the rest of this year.”
Despite being excited for the opportunity to race at New Smyrna, much of Braden’s focus was on Saturday’s ARCA race at Daytona, a race he finished eighth in. With that race now over, the West Virginia racer will begin shifting his focus over to the World Series.
“On Sunday I’ll start to switch focus over to New Smyrna,” Braden said. “We’ll be behind schedule obviously, being there a few days later than the rest. My goals there are to try to get caught up with the guys that have already sort-of figured out the track for the week and see if we can’t get a couple good finishes or even a win by the time the week’s over.”
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com