Braden Chiaramonte Impresses in Usac/Cra Debut – Nor Cal or Arizona This Weekend
Imagine if at 16 years old you were the youngest driver in the field and you were making your first appearance in the best wingless sprint car series west of the Mississippi. Then imagine if you were using a 360 engine while the other 24 drivers in the field were all powered by 410 cubic inch engines. You would probably be intimidated. Not so with talented teenage racer Braden Chiaramonte who faced those challenges in the 20th annual “Sokola Shootout” at Perris Auto Speedway last Saturday night. The teen performed admirably throughout the event earning respect from fellow competitors and the fans.
One week after winning round #2 of the POWRi Southwest Lightning Sprint Car/California Lightning Sprints “Best of the West” series and placing ninth in the open comp sprint main at Imperial Valley, Chiaramonte arrived at Perris ready to battle with the best in the west. During qualifying, he began to alleviate any doubts unfamiliar race watchers may have had about him when he was 16th fastest in the 25-car field with an impressive time of 17.067.
If anyone was still not convinced after qualifying, his heat race surely showed that he was more than capable of competing against that level of drivers. In the 10-lapper, Chiaramonte finished fourth after continually fending off a series top 10 regular, a USAC National Series driver, and three other 410-powered cars.
For the main, Chiaramonte was coming from the 16th spot in a stacked field. There was no way anyone could tell he was a rookie in the group. He methodically worked his way forward and was up to the 11th spot. He was driving past the 10th-place car when contact sent him into the wall. When he got clobbered, it flattened the left rear and bent the wheel. Fortunately, the teen limped back to the pit area, got it changed, and returned to the battle. Even though he had to restart at the rear and there were not a lot of laps remaining, he managed to get back to the 16th position at the finish.
“Fun Night last Saturday at Perris Auto Speedway,” the teen told his followers in a post on Facebook on Tuesday. “Running with the 410s, qualified 17th out of 25 cars. Finished fourth in my heat and started 16th in the main. Was up to 11th and passing 10th. Got put into the wall and got a flat. Overall, it was a fun night of racing. Big thanks to everyone for all the help.”
As it stands right now, Chiaramonte is racing this Saturday. He just does not know where! He plans on running for “Rookie of the Year” in Northern California’s winged Sprint Car Challenge Tour. The season opener for that series is slated for Saturday at the Placerville Speedway. However, like all of California, the famous track has been pounded by recent storms. More rain was scheduled for Thursday and temperatures are going to be cold on Saturday. If that show gets canceled, the plan is to travel east to the Central Arizona Raceway in Casa Grande for the ASCS non-wing race. In addition, if he heads to the “Copper State,” he will take the micro and race it on the same program. Keep an eye on Chiaramonte’s Facebook page to see where he ends up racing.
Chiaramonte would like to thank all his sponsors who have made this week’s races possible. RTL Traffic Control, AM Ortega, King Racing Products, Tiner-Hirst Enterprises, and Keizer Wheels.\
Braden Chiaramonte PR
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