SPOKANE, Washington — After a successful run in his 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West debut just over two weeks ago, Braeden Havens, the driver of the No. 61 Western Rail Inc. Chevrolet heads to Stockton 99 Speedway confident while looking to continue his early season momentum.
“We've been really fortunate and had really good finishes to start out the year with both the K&N (Pro Series) car and our super late model. It's been a lift to our program to be successful with the new K&N ride, and really has boosted my confidence as a driver.”
Havens continued his strong early season with his first career start at Evergreen Speedway located in Monroe, Wash. Running in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at one of the most famous tracks in the Northwest was a new experience for the Spokane native, he said.
“Racing door to door with Gary Lewis (a two time NASCAR Northwest Series champion) and Naima Lang (a former Washington State NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Champion) was one of the biggest challenges in my racing career. Trying to keep them behind me and racing for the lead late in the event was probably the funnest time I've had in my four years of racing late models.”
As Havens gains experience and seat time across the Northwest, he hopes to transfer that knowledge to the K&N Pro Series and new racing venues throughout the West Coast. The three-eighth-mile oval in Stockton presents a unique challenge for the Thompson Motorsports driver, as he has never laid eyes on the facility.
“I know the track is different in both corners, but with Brett's knowledge of Stockton, I know we'll be set-up just right when practice begins.”
Stockton marks the second start of the K&N Pro Series season for Havens and he feels as though it will be a more comfortable event with his new team.
“The first race (Havasu) was a 'getting to know each other' event, and now that we've done that we can just focus on going out and getting to the front. Thompson Motorsports racecars are always fast and well prepared so I'm excited to get back behind the wheel of the No. 61.”
Last week the Rich Thompson Trucking Impala was in action with Brett Thompson behind the wheel at Miller Motorsports Park. Luck was not on the veteran’s side as a flat tire relegated Thompson to the lower end of the top 20. The sub-par finish was hit to the owner's championship pursuit for the team, but Havens remains confident with plenty of racing left in the season.
“It was unfortunate, but we're still in the hunt. I know we'll do our best to keep our team in the battle for the (owner's) title.”
Doing so will be contingent on Havens' success in the upcoming Pick-N-Pull 150, but the humble driver recognizes that he has made impressive strides since his first foray into stock-car racing four years ago.
“When we switched from go-karts in 2008 to late models we had a ton to learn and definitely paid our dues. But along the way over the last four years we've hooked up with some great people and acquired soild equipment and have been running up front in every race this season. Before this year we really tried to focus on just finishing races. Now we can focus on top-5's and seeking wins when we go to the racetrack,” Havens said.
With early success in his 2012 campaign and momentum on their side, the Spokane high school senior aims high and will look for a great finish this weekend at Stockton 99 Speedway.
Fans can follow Havens throughout the weekend at the team's Killer B Racing Facebook page and at NASCAR's hometrack page within nascar.com