This past weekend, the likes of Jimmy Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart were putting their skills to the test at a NASCAR race held at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich. But about 120 miles away, in Marne, Mich., Wheeling native and West Virginia University sophomore Travis Braden was proving he is a force to be reckoned with in the ARCA/Champion Racing Association Super Series.
Braden dominated in the Berlin 100 presented by Boyne Machine Company and JEGS.com, his fourth race of the season. He not only set a track record in qualifying but he put the No. 1 Flying WV Chevy in victory lane for the first time this season. Braden was dominant throughout the race, taking the lead on lap seven and opening up as much as a half-a-track lead on the rest of the field on his way to the checkered flag.
“We were the fastest car in every practice session leading into qualifying,” said Braden. “We broke an already impressive record by two-tenths of a second, which is an enormous margin in racing.”
The win put Braden and the Flying WV car into the lead in the series points standings for the first time. His success is paying dividends for WVU, raising awareness of the university at tracks where he competes.
“Almost everyone who comes to talk to me has at least one question about WVU being on the car,” said Braden. “Many are surprised to learn that I am actually a full-time student in mechanical and aerospace engineering. I think it really catches their attention and, whether I’m their favorite driver or not, they now pay quite a bit of attention to the WVU car on the track. Overall, the car raises questions in many spectators’ minds and has really drawn a lot of attention.
“I am very proud to drive the Flying WV race car, and I think knowing how big of an audience the car is getting has pushed myself and my team even farther,” Braden continued. “I had seen my old colors in victory lane hundreds of time and I was extremely eager to get the ‘old gold and blue’ in victory lane for the first time. Driving for a school that I not only attend but have loved for so long is really something. WVU is like a giant family, and I wanted to be the first person to bring success to WVU in a new sporting venue, stock car racing.”
Braden is hoping to repeat his success at the track when he makes a return visit to Berlin Raceway on Aug. 3.