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Braden Wins In First ARCA Start

Travis Braden celebrates, at Lucas Oil Raceway Indianapolis, after his first ARCA Racing Series win in his first series start. [Photo courtesy ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards]

Travis Braden celebrates, at Lucas Oil Raceway Indianapolis, after his first ARCA Racing Series win in his first series start. [Photo courtesy ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards]

Speedway, IN – Tire decisions can often be the difference between winning and losing a race. Such was the case Friday night at Lucas Oil Raceway as 21-year-old Travis Braden, making his first ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards start, drove his family’s newly-built Chevrolet to a convincing late-race win.

The West Virginia rookie who was a lap down early in the 200-lapper, trusted crew-chief Matt Weber’s choice of four tires when the leaders took on two, during what turned out to be their final stop.

“I was worried that there would be another caution later and we’d be caught on old tires while the others got four fresh ones,” the surprised winner noted.

Braden made up that lap earlier, passed then-leader William Byron on lap 180, erasing a four-second deficit, and cruised to a 3.142 second win as the race finished under green.

“When I got into second I couldn’t even see the No. 55, pole-sitter Kyle Weatherman. It took a while before I thought I could hopefully get to him; it worked out perfectly.

“At the time I didn’t think that was the right call. I can’t believe how it played out. If the caution had come out we would have likely finished at the end of the lead lap,” Braden explained.

Weatherman’s Ford led the first 50 laps but was passed by Byron’s Venturini Toyota which led a total of 120 circuits before relinquishing the top spot to a fast-closing Braden.

Veteran ARCA driver Tom Hessert finished third and closed-in on points-leader Grant Enfinger who finished eighth.

Sixteen-year-old J.J. Haley ran fourth after starting 33rd and Brandon Jones, who won this race in 2014, was fifth in another Venturini Toyota. Sixty-year-old Ken Schrader brought his Federated Auto Parts Toyota home eleventh after running as high as sixth.

The ARCA Racing series moves to Pocono Raceway, Saturday, August 1, for an event to be broadcast on Fox Sports 2.

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Paul Gohde heard the sound of race cars early in his life.

Growing up in suburban Milwaukee, just north of Wisconsin State Fair Park in the 1950’s, Paul had no idea what “that noise” was all about that he heard several times a year. Finally, through prodding by friends of his parents, he was taken to several Thursday night modified stock car races on the old quarter-mile dirt track that was in the infield of the one-mile oval -and he was hooked.

The first Milwaukee Mile event that he attended was the 1959 Rex Mays Classic won by Johnny Thomson in the pink Racing Associates lay-down Offy built by the legendary Lujie Lesovsky. After the 100-miler Gohde got the winner’s autograph in the pits, something he couldn’t do when he saw Hank Aaron hit a home run at County Stadium, and, again, he was hooked.

Paul began attending the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, and saw A. J. Foyt’s first Indy win. He began covering races in 1965 for Racing Wheels newspaper in Vancouver, WA as a reporter/photographer and his first credentialed race was Jim Clark’s historic Indy win.Paul has also done reporting, columns and photography for Midwest Racing News since the mid-sixties, with the 1967 Hoosier 100 being his first big race to report for them.

He is a retired middle-grade teacher, an avid collector of vintage racing memorabilia, and a tour guide at Miller Park. Paul loves to explore abandoned race tracks both here and in Europe, with the Brooklands track in Weybridge England being his favorite. Married to Paula, they have three adult children and two cats.

Paul loves the diversity of all types of racing, “a factor that got me hooked in the first place.”