As the ARCA Menards Series hits its annual summer stretch of races, with seven races spread over seven consecutive weekends, it can be tough on drivers and crew members who don’t have a lot of time to recharge their batteries. You might think those demands would make it harder on the smaller teams. It’s definitely a challenge, especially for Don Fike’s RFMS Racing team. With just three full-time employees, everyone works long, hard hours with not a lot of time off even when things are going well and there is an occasional weekend off.
The team’s driver, Travis Braden (No. 27 MatrixCare/Consonus Health Care/Liberty Village Ford) is one of those three full-time employees. Not only does he drive the racecar, he spends the days between races working on it alongside crew chief Dan Glauz. Despite those long hours, the summer stretch isn’t as difficult on Braden as one might be led to believe. With a mixture of superspeedway races and short track races, Braden sees the seven-races-in-seven-weekends stretch as an opportunity.
“The summer stretch is grueling, but it definitely allows for a lot of opportunity,” Braden said. “If we are able to get on a roll, momentum would be huge to carry through it. A lot of the game is to just simply have little to no mistakes and capitalize on the mistakes others make.”
Braden, who finished tenth in the last ARCA Menards Series race at Pocono Raceway last Friday, won in his series debut at Lucas Oil Raceway in 2015. He joined the RFMS Racing midway through the 2017 season and competed full-time with Fike’s team in 2018 finishing fifth in the series standings. Still looking for his second career victory, Braden knows winning Friday’s VizCom 200 at Michigan will be a challenge. It’s a challenge he’s willing to take head-on, though.
“We need to compete for wins,” he said. “The hard work has yet to really pay off, and I’m getting hungrier because of it. I know we’re very close to hitting on something that will make the difference. All we can do is keep working hard and persevere.”
Despite racing for a small, independent team, Braden is still confident he can compete head-to-head with the likes of Venturini Motorsports and Chad Bryant Racing. Competing against the bigger teams is a source of pride for Braden and his team. Not only is it a source of pride, he’s shown he can do it. He is just 55 points out of the points lead, held by Venturini driver Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota) as the season nears its midway point.
“Those guys are tough,” he said. “They have it all, you know? They’ve got so much information, so many options. But we see what they’re up to and we’re learning. We’re catching up. Getting beat by the same guys each week is huge motivation to keep working, and one day, soon hopefully, we will be the ones out front.”
Practice for the VizCom 200 at Michigan International Speedway is slated for 8 am ET on Friday, June 7, followed by General Tire Pole Qualifying at 12 noon, with the 100-lap, 200-mile race slated to go green shortly after 6 pm ET. The race will be televised live on FS1. ARCA for Me members can access free live timing & scoring, live track updates, and live chat for all on-track sessions at ARCARacing.com. New users can register for free with a valid email address at ARCARacing.com/login. For ticket information log on to MISpeedway.com or call 888-905-7223.