TOLEDO, Ohio - Travis Braden turned a lot of heads when he steered his West Virginia University (WVU) / Platinum Express Chevrolet to victory lane at Lucas Oil Raceway in his career-first ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards attempt last July.
Braden had already established himself as a top late model driver, earning ARCA CRA Super Series championships back-to-back in 2013 and 2014. However, Braden’s win at Lucas Oil seemed to prove to the world that his skill and talent behind the wheel is no anomaly. In a race with just 35 laps of caution over 200 laps, Braden methodically worked his way forward and led the final 21 laps en route to the winner’s circle.
As a full-time engineering dual major student at WVU, Braden just announced some exciting plans for the 2016 race season.
“This past weekend, I met with the late model team I drove for last year. I’m going to be driving for Platinum Motorsports again this year,” Braden said.
“We’ll pick and choose and run the big late model races. They have a trucking company – Platinum Express – out of Dayton, Ohio.
“Now we can collectively reach out for the support we need to expand our ARCA Racing Series ambitions.”
In addition to Braden’s ARCA win at Lucas Oil, he made his speedway debuts in the same car at Kentucky and Kansas Speedways, and with great success. He finished second at Kentucky and sixth in the Kansas finale.
“We’ve been working through a lot of stuff over the winter to try and put some ARCA plans in place for 2016. We have a lot of people that are going to help us…we just had to clear our late model plans.
“The first ARCA race on my schedule will, more than likely, be the first Pocono or Michigan in June. We have some support but it’s a pretty tight box we’re working with so we have to pick and choose. The goal is to one day run them all, but first things first.
“I think we can honestly do five or six for sure, as many televised ones as we can. It’s likely you’ll see Chicago, Kentucky, Kansas, possibly Iowa on our schedule.”
As much as Braden wants to rev up and focus on his racing program, he’s currently a senior at WVU pursuing a double major in aerospace and mechanical engineering, not exactly an easy curriculum.
“I’m still in school, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Two weeks till spring break, thankfully. I know the end’s in sight, but sometimes it seems like more of cursing than a blessing. I still have to come back in the fall and go through December. I have two majors so it’s not a typical four-year program; but I’ll get it done in four and a half years. It’s kind of weird graduating in December. I’m so close but I still have to come back after summer break.”
If Braden has any free time, it’s usually spent with his girlfriend, friends and family, but, in reality, there hasn’t been a great deal of free time over the last four years.
“These past few years, I haven’t really had any free time, and when I do have any down time, I’m usually lazy because I’m so worn out. I’ve been in school for more than four years consecutively…I’m ready to finish up this great but challenging chapter of my life and move into the next.”
With options on the table, Braden is constantly thinking about his future.
“I’m constantly trying to position myself in all aspects of my life. If racing’s not there like I’d like it to be, I want to be positioned in the engineering industry with a place to go. Ideally, I’d like to spend two or three years of my time after I graduate on racing…see what I can do with that. If it works out that I can do that, I’m going to try and give it my all.”