Travis Braden will defend his Snowball Derby title on December 2-6 at Five Flags Speedway, this time going into the event with a new team based out of his home state of West Virginia.
Braden will compete for Jake Keaton Racing, piloting a car No. 14 in the most prestigious event in Super Late Model racing. Jake Keaton Racing is based out of West Virginia, creating a unique partnership between driver and team as proud Mountaineers.
“Whenever I found out Team Platinum wasn’t going to race the Derby this year and I was looking for options, Jake Keaton got a hold of me,” Braden told Speed51. “He and his dad Rick talked about it and said they’d love to do it.
“They’re really nice people from my home state, which is kind of cool and definitely unique. It was a no-brainer. I know a little bit about the car. I know it’s a really good car.
As it turns out, Braden was familiar with the Keatons and their car thanks to working with them occasionally during the 2020 season.
“I drove the car myself back in March with the previous owner and helped these guys in the beginning of October. They won the race, actually, at their home track at Ona.
“When they bought the car, I happened to be there, I just said, ‘If you need anything, Mountaineers always help each other out. If you need anything, give me a call.’”
The Keatons took Braden up on his offer later in the year, leading to a night where Braden worked with the team as they went to victory lane at Ona.
“We bought a Fury race car to race at Ona Speedway in Ona, West Virginia this past season,” explained Jake Keaton. “We struggled at first and needed a little help, so we called Travis. Travis helped us out a ton and we were able to get a win the first race he helped us.”
“It was one of those things where you go and have some fun,” said Braden. “It was different putting a headset on and crew chiefing for a day, but we had some fun and found victory lane, so it was cool.”
This marks Jake Keaton Racing’s first trip to the Snowball Derby, an experience the team is eagerly looking forward to.
“This will be our first Snowball Derby and we’re really excited to be a part of this race and have Travis drive our car,” said Keaton. “All of us being from West Virginia makes this even more special.”
Race fans unable to attend the 53rd Annual Snowball Derby on December 2-6 will be able to watch all of the action live on Speed51.TV by clicking here.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Travis Braden Racing