On a Friday at Winchester Speedway that saw rain, power outages, and all manner of on-track chaos, Travis Braden had an extra obstacle to overcome – his own stomach.
“I’ve been pretty sick all day,” Braden told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “For the most part, I was just worried about getting the race over with.”
For Braden, the win was a result of patience and perseverance as the circumstances spun out of control around him.
“I mean, I was just keeping to myself,” said Braden. “I felt like we were in a pretty good spot. We had a really good car. I knew we could get some spots on restarts. I was concerned about everything that was going on.”
The day started with afternoon showers, which washed out a round of practice and turned the second round of practice into a 30-minute qualifying session. Braden was second in the qualifying session, which placed him ninth on the starting grid.
While Braden battled his way to the front, other contenders fell by the wayside. David Carter started on the front row but hit the wall in the early stages. Stephen Nasse suffered a flat tire and crashed in turn two from the lead on lap 72. Championship contender Carson Hocevar fell by the wayside on the ensuing restart with a flat tire of his own. That restart didn’t take place until lights were restored at the famed half-mile after an outage along the frontstretch.
The extensive red flag might have been the must tenuous part of the evening for Braden.
“This place is notorious for things like cut tires from debris and running out of fuel,” Braden said. “But there’s nothing you can do about it, so you can’t worry about it.”
“We were sitting on the banking, and my stomach was kind of turning over on me,” Braden added. “I was sick this morning, but once I got in the car I knew I’d be fine.”
While Braden celebrated the victory, Jack Dossey III celebrated his JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour championship. His third-place finish placed him ahead of the other three Championship Chase contenders, earning him the 2017 title.
“I can’t really put it into words yet. It hasn’t sunk all the way in,” Dossey said. “I can’t thank all my guys enough. They’ve given me a good race car all year long, and it paid off. It just feels so sweet. I can’t thank everyone enough.”
Dossey admits when the Championship Chase format was announced, he was a skeptic. However, the system grew on him throughout the season, and he hopes it returns for 2018.
“At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t real impressed with the Chase format,” said Dossey. “As the year went on, it grew on me. Now I feel pretty good about it. I hope they bring it back next year, because they turned me into a believer.”
While Hope Hornish came up short in her battle with Braden for the victory, she took great pride in the strong showing and her development over the past year.
“It’s been great. I was dying when we first got here last year,” Hornish said. “We had some engine and tranny issues. To come back and run even stronger, it’s just unbelievable.”
The strong run also continues the momentum the team has built over the second half of the year after a slow start to 2017.
“Having all the trouble this year really got us down a little,” Hornish. “We got a top five out of Auto City (MI), and we’ve just been growing off that. To race Travis Braden like that is such a huge confidence booster.”
The JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour season finale is just the beginning of racing action at Winchester 400 weekend. Race fans can watch all three days of the 46th Annual Winchester 400 weekend live on Speed51.com via a pay-per-view broadcast. Purchase a live video ticket today by clicking here.
-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent – Twitter: @ZTEvans
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
1 26 Travis Braden
2 8 Hope Hornish
3 20 Jack Dossey III #C
4 188 Josh Smith
5 5 Michael Clancy Jr #C
6 7C Kyle Crump
7 17 Keith Sterkowitz
8 29 Austin Kunert
9 51 Eddie Fatscher
10 14 Carson Hocevar #C
11 88 Trevor McCoy
12 7X David Carter
13 51N Stephen Nasse
14 811 Thomas Hufferd
15 23 Mandy Chick
16 67 Ben Welch
17 14D Corey Deuser
18 01 James Krueger
19 29K Mason Keller
20 47 Dakota Stroup
21 14V Brandon Varney
22 28 Jack Smith
23 72 Thomas Woodin