CHARLOTTE, N.C. â Following a victory at the 52nd Snowball Derby, considered one of the top stock races in the country, Wheeling native and auto racer Travis Braden has his eyes set on a big 2020 and beyond.
The WVU graduateâs next move is to Charlotte, North Carolina, the center of the NASCAR world, in hopes of achieving his dreams to compete in the premier three NASCAR series.
âThe win came at a great time,â Braden told MetroNews. âSome great things are happening. You never know how things are going to go for you in this sport but we have a pretty good outlook on things and the next 12 months are going to be really exciting.â
The previous 12 months for Braden, 25, couldnât have been scripted much better, adding his name to the list of Snowball Derby winners including NASCAR greats Darrell Waltrip, Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch and a strong finish in the ARCA Menards Series.
âThey put the list of winners on the trophy and you look at the names of the drivers and think of about the teams and crew chiefs behind them,â Braden said of holding the Tom Dawson Trophy. âTo be on that list, itâs one of the biggest accomplishments I have ever imagined achieving. It truly is one of the most sought out accomplishments in this sport.
âSo many people have said congratulations whether it was a text, comment, post on my Facebook. I looked at it like it was such a rare thing to achieve something like this, that I wanted to not only read every single thing that someone said but for the most part, respond to everything.â
Team Platinum Motorsports, based out of Dayton, Ohio, is the team that helped carry Braden in Florida and he said itâs the team he will continue to work with this year.
He said he plans to do more national tour racing and compete in the 53rd Snowball Derby along with Winchester 400 in Indianapolis, All-American 400 in Nashville and Speedweeks at Daytona. Braden added the team will fill in the schedule as they go with more exhibition type races.
Braden told MetroNews he has no plans to race in the 2020 ARCA Menards Series, a series that is most similar to a NASCAR series and given Braden some of his most fond racing memories.
In the 2019 ARCA Menards Series, Braden finished 4th in the championship point standings with RFMS Racing after 3 Top 5s and 16 Top 10s.
He said the moves for his 2020 season will help him explore NASCAR opportunities in Charlotte, the decision behind completely moving to the area. Braden, who has two degrees at WVU in aerospace and mechanical engineering, said this is the time where he can concentrate on business opportunities and a racing career.
When asked by MetroNews if he had heard from any NASCAR recently, Braden said, âEven people I havenât met, I have earned a lot of their respect. There are probably not many teams that I have not heard from at one point or another.
âThey have said, âIf we could work together and make the finances of it all happen, the sponsorships that we would need to go racing, we would love to have you drive for us.’â
Braden understands the business side of auto racing and how important the role of sponsorships will play in his future dreams of competing in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series or NASCAR Cup Series. Thatâs why he has become open to racing for any manufacturer and deals with sponsorship.
Although, he told MetroNews he would like to bring his West Virginia roots to NASCAR. Braden drove the âflying WVâ of West Virginia University part-time early in his stock car career and hopes to rekindle relationships from the past.
âI have always had support around home and the state of West Virginia,â he said. âIâd like to bring that brand with me if I could make some appearances in NASCAR. I was the guy with the West Virginia University car and carried that brand. Iâd love to be able to take that to NASCAR.â