WHEELING, W.Va. — Travis Braden finally got to his phone after the dramatic ARCA win on Friday and it was dead.
Hundreds of texts, tweets, calls, and friend requests on Facebook were rolling in after he took the checkered flag on national television at Lucas Oil Raceway.
The Wheeling native has picked up thousands of new fans and now the team looks to turn the newfound popularity into money and new sponsorships as they continue to push for the top tiers of NASCAR.
“The win has just about fully sunk in and I know it is legit now,” Braden said. “The only part that hasn’t sunk in is I won’t know how it is going to play out for my season such as extra sponsors and to run more races.
“I haven’t had multi-million dollar companies calling me, but I think people’s eyes are open. I have talked to some people and they can’t believe how good that worked out. My Facebook and Twitter have blown up.”
Braden’s ride in the ARCA Racing Series event Friday in Indianapolis was probably the most recognizable with the old gold and blue paint scheme and the ‘flying WV’ on the hood as his primary sponsor is West Virginia University on the No. 01 Chevrolet.
The WVU senior wrapped up a video and photo shoot with the university at his race shop in Columbus earlier in the week. A television commercial will appear during all WVU football and basketball games along with other select sporting events.
Braden plans to graduate in December of 2016 with a dual degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
“I will be willing to bet that two-thirds of my fans come from the fact of the car,” Braden said.
“The win on Friday tripled my fan base and when people see WVU on the car, they immediately become fans. It is great for me and the school.”
Braden plans to race his next ARCA event at Kentucky Speedway on September 25th at 8 p.m. live on FOX Sports 1. After that race, his team plans to shut it down for the season and prepare for a big 2016 campaign.
“Kentucky makes the most sense for us with our budget right now,” Braden said. “I have never raced on a track like Kentucky so I will be able to gain some new experience in September. Plus the race is on national television and is close to home. Kentucky is our goal.
“Then right after that, we are going to have an early end to our season. We will work all winter long in hopes of having a full season in something in 2016.We have to have 75 percent of our budget complete by first of the year in order to make it work.”
The team has not ruled out racing in the top three tiers of NASCAR next season such as the Camping World Truck Series or the Xfinity series but would like to compete for a championship in a series that their budget allows for. Braden sees his graduation from WVU in December of 2016 as “perfect timing” due to the fact that it will be right in the middle of motorsports offseason and then is when he will target a big run at a NASCAR series full-time.
“Its black and white,” Braden said, “If I had $100 trillion in my bank account, I would run in every truck race, ARCA race and Xfinity race. That is the way it is. No one is stopping me from doing that stuff but the money. You cannot look at it like a negative though, it shouldn’t be, you have to earn that. Jimmie Johnson at one time in his life was just an average guy like me and he had to earn it. The past couple years have been difficult. Companies are trying to spend less and the price of advertising in racing is ballooning right now.”
Braden’s local sponsors such as Sudsy’s Auto Spas, Braden’s A-1 Towing, which is his father and car owner Don Braden’s company, Stoney Hollow Tire, Matheson Gases, and Remember the Miners all got national exposure on Friday in victory lane. Platinum Express Trucking and Brands Trucking Insurance based out of Ohio were also sponsors of the Wheeling native on Friday.
“All the local sponsors are helping us every year as much as they can,” Braden said. “They are not large on money but they are certainly getting a value for what they have done. We welcome anyone who wants to help this racing team and they can contact us by any way. We can figure out what makes the most sense for us and them. It has to make sense and we can help them sell more of their product.
“Sometimes you have to look at it in different ways and see a lot of options out there. We have to look at the next steps we need to take for NASCAR. Sponsors will cover us for a race here and there regionally and I think this will entice other sponsors. They want to see that value as well and hopefully it will have a snowball effect. We just want to get a hold of a lot of people and hopefully they see the value of being involved with us. That is all we can do.”
Braden and his team are open to any type of sponsorship as he races to his dream of being in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Visit www.travisbraden.com for more information on Braden and sponsorship inquires.
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