Travis Braden won the 2019 Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway. However, he is currently without a ride and seeking an opportunity to defend that crown in 2020.
Following Sunday’s 49th Winchester 400 at Winchester Speedway, Braden learned that Team Platinum would not be competing for the remainder of the 2020 season. With that news, Braden is now without a ride for the rest of the year, including the upcoming All American 400 and Snowball Derby.
Braden learned of the development shortly after Sunday’s race in a conversation with team owner Myna Burba.
“Honestly, I had a little bit of a suspicion to ask questions, at the least,” Braden told Speed51. “It was a really busy weekend, and we raced in both the Pros and the Supers. I waited until our business was done, but after the checkered flag on Sunday at the 400 I went to our team owner when she was away from everyone and we could have a two-person conversation.
“I asked the question, and she confirmed we wouldn’t be running in the All American 400 and Snowball Derby. At that time, that was the extent of it. We had a meeting on Monday to follow up with that and discuss it in more detail.”
Braden is uncertain whether Team Platinum will return in 2021, and whether he will be with the team if they do return.
“I did discuss the topic, and it’s uncertain whether or not that would be of desire for the team. Whether that means racing at all, racing with me, what have you. From my perspective, this isn’t any situation I’d prefer to be in. For those reasons, maybe the future would look different if there was another relationship.
While the development wasn’t a complete surprise, the timing did catch him off-guard.
“You wouldn’t think, coming off a Snowball Derby at the end of the year and a strong year this year, you wouldn’t want to run those races. Seeing the morale being inconsistent and rather low, I figured it was being thought about, but I wasn’t expecting it to be the case.
“I figured we’d finish out the year. It puts me and all of our employees in a tough spot, with such short and unexpected notice to make a change like that during the busiest part of the race season.”
Already, Braden has been hard at work to find a seat for the upcoming marquee races. Time is of the essence, with the All American 400 just a couple of weeks away.
“Obviously, first of all, it puts me in a tough spot to be given such short notice. The All American 400 is less than two weeks away now, and the Derby is quickly coming up, too.
“I think I have some really solid opportunities. One way or another, one of them could come to fruition. I might have a good problem and have to decide between a couple of different options, but we’ll see.”
While it is important for Braden to find a ride for the All American 400 at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, he is especially focused on locking down a seat for the 53rd Annual Snowball Derby.
“My main goal is to return to the Snowball Derby and be a part of the sport’s biggest event as the reigning champion of the race. We’ve got some interest. There are a number of different teams. Sponsorship will be a part of it.”
One benefit Braden brings to a prospective team is that Snowball Derby victory. As the defending champion of the event, he holds one of three total provisional starting spots for the race and is guaranteed to start the marquee event as long as he can find a car to drive.
“If you look at it like you’re not guaranteed, that’s essentially an additional expense. The moment you make the race, you at least make a couple of bucks. That adds some leverage and value to pull something together, logistically, financially, psychologically. It’s nice to have that in the back pocket for whoever wants to go to the Derby.”
Regardless of where Braden ends up in the coming weeks, he is perhaps more motivated now than ever to show off his ability during “big race season.”
“How could you find someone more motivated at this given moment? Motivation is key in this sport. To be in such a tough spot with such short notice. I can’t say I’ve ever been more motivated to get in a car and prove my worth.
“Let’s go win the Derby. We can do it. My girlfriend Jess and I put a lot into what we do behind-the-scenes to make this a fun experience for our teams, sponsors, friends and family. We’re trying to bring a lot to the table, on and off the track, and we’re motivated now more than ever to do that for this year’s Snowball Derby.”
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo