Real-world and sim racers alike gathered for a good cause at the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway Friday night for the Mike Swaney 57. Defending Snowball Derby champion Travis Braden claimed the checkered flag in the sim race, but his best move came after the race.
Braden, as well as second-place finisher Joe Quinn, both pledged to donate their share of the purse from the event to Swaney, an Ohio racer currently fighting pancreatic cancer.
“I don’t know what it paid, but I’m going to give every bit to Mike Swaney and his family,” Braden told Speed51 after the win. “I wish I could think of people’s names who came in at the last minute and donated some extra bucks here and there. I don’t know what was donated in total, but everything that went my way is going back to him.”
Braden joined the race on a whim, and was ultimately rewarded with a victory at “The Last Great Colosseum” for his efforts.
“It feels cool. It’s been fun to do these races and be in as much of it as I can. I got the invite last minute and didn’t much about it and said, ‘Heck yeah, let’s do it.’ I didn’t know how it would turn out, but we got the win.”
Joe Quinn came up just short of challenging Braden for the win, finishing 0.25 seconds behind the West Virginian at the finish. The Ohio racer also pledged his winnings to Swaney.
“I don’t know exactly how much winnings I’m supposed to be getting, but I’ll just donate it to the Swaney family,” said Quinn. “They probably need it a little more than me.”
Quinn had raced at “Thunder Valley” in a CRA Street Stock before, but was happy to say his virtual experience at the high-banked short track was far more successful than his past trips.
“I’m happy that my virtual Bristol experience went better than my real-life Bristol experience. I have to say congratulations to Travis Braden. I wasn’t even sure if that was the real Travis Braden until about halfway through the race.
“He did a really good job. I tried to not make any mistakes. I’m happy to be able to run with him.”
Quinn had accepted a challenge to start at the rear of the field for a shot at bonus money if he could take the win after 57 laps. He admitted he came closer to winning than he imagined when accepting that challenge, but enjoyed racing through the field.
“A lot of it had to do with starting at the back. I took it easy on the tires the first 10 or 12 laps so I’d have something to race with at the end. I didn’t think I was going to get that far up through the field, but it was a pretty good time.”
With a win under his belt, Braden now turns his eyes towards the third round of the Rowdy Energy Super Select Series powered by Speed51. Braden will be racing at the virtual Lucas Oil Raceway on Saturday night against top Super Late Model racers from around North America.
“It’s a good little confidence builder,” said Braden. “I’ve been trying to practice a couple hours each night for the last couple of weeks. This stuff’s not easy, it takes practice just like real racing. This was a good start to the weekend.”
Kyle Finlayson finished third in the race, with Hunter Combs and Brandon Thomas rounding out the top five.
Race fans who missed the Mike Swaney 57 can watch a replay by clicking here. Those interested and able to donate to Swaney to assist with his medical costs during his fight against cancer can visit the established GoFundMe page by clicking here.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans