When talented Southern California racer Braden Chiaramonte arrived at Missouri’s Sweet Springs Motorsports Complex for last week’s POWRi-sanctioned Keith Kunz Motorsports Challenge, he brought more than enough with him to win the prestigious race. After all, he carries a boatload of racing talent everywhere he goes. He also had a gorgeous new Hyper house car with his #73B painted on the tail tank. The only thing that did not accompany the young driver to the $10,000.00 to-win race was some good luck. While the luck part put a bit of a damper on the weekend, his talent shined through and made a lasting impression on those watching in person and the thousands around the globe who caught the three nights of racing live online.
The three-night affair brought out some of the best 600cc Micro Wingless Outlaw drivers, including El Cajon, California-based Chiaramonte. The prestigious race was also contested by two-time NASCAR Champion Kyle Busch. The Thursday and Friday portions of the show included qualifying, heat races, qualifiers, semis, and A mains. Saturday’s program featured preliminary mains and the $10,000.00 to win 30-lap main event. The idea for each of the drivers on the first two nights was to at least finish in the top four of the main event to guarantee themselves a starting position in Saturday’s finale.
Thursday, September 7: A total of 56 cars showed up for the opening night of the Keith Kunz Motorsports Challenge. Sixteen-year-old Chiaramonte steered the beautiful bright red, black, and white Hyper #73B to the 10th fastest time in qualifying with a sizzling 12.639 clock stopper. In his heat race, “Buckwylde” started and finished third. That sounds rather mundane. So, the truth be it, he was waist-deep in a crowd-pleasing slide job affair and his hard-fought-for third-place finish guaranteed a ticket into the night's main event.
In his 10-lap qualifier to determine where he would start in the main, Chiaramonte began on the outside of the front row and won the race with room to spare.
Chiaramonte closed the first night by starting seventh in the 25-lap main event. He did not get an ideal start and slipped back to 10th on the first lap. Battling hard in the race, he found himself back to 12th when a red flag halted the action. From that point on he clawed his way forward and by the end of the 15th circuit, he had worked his way up the 10th. A yellow flag slowed the progress of the race on lap 21. By that time, the hard-charging driver had advanced another two spots to 8th. When the green light came back on he became embroiled in a huge battle to try and get up to fourth. He advanced one more position and was on a run when the checkered flag ended the race with him in seventh.
Friday, September 8: Fifty-five cars showed up for the Friday portion of the Keith Kunz Motorsports Challenge. Once again, the kid from San Diego County was lightning fast in qualifying. For the second night in succession, he was 10th fastest. This time he timed in at 12.378. Another hard-fought heat race battle saw Chiaramonte come home fourth after starting third. That earned a ticket straight into the main event for the second night in a row.
For his qualifier, Chiaramonte was on the front row with Busch. The NASCAR star got the jump on the teenager but as the race wore on, Chiaramonte was closing in on the famous leader. However, his progress was interrupted by a yellow flag. That killed his momentum. When the race went back to green, it was like the start with Busch pulling away and then Chiaramonte starting to reel him in. In the end, the teen had to settle for second.
Up to that point, things had gone well for the high school student. He started the main in 12th and was alongside Busch again. Early on, alert driving narrowly allowed Chiaramonte to avoid a car that spun in front of him. Once the race restarted, he got a tremendous start and was steaming forward. He was up to fifth on lap three and one circuit later, he roared into fourth. He was lightning-fast and moving into the top three looked inevitable. That all changed on lap 15 when he suddenly slowed on the track the victim of a broken throttle cable. The crew did not have time to change it and instead of a potential victory, the driver and his team were saddled with a 24th place finish.
Saturday, September 9th: For the finale on Saturday, Chiaramonte had to run one of the B mains and finish in the top eight to punch his ticket into the 30-lap finale. Even though he was starting on the front row, it was never going to be a cakewalk as it was the final chance to get into the A for every driver in the race. Chiaramonte was leading the B when he got clobbered by another car in turn one on lap four. Suddenly, his hopes of making the finale took a dark turn. That is they took a dark turn for those spectating, but not for the relentless driver or his determined team.
Fortunately, the #73B was not badly damaged, but Chiaramonte was forced to restart in 18th and had to race his way up to seventh to make the main for the third consecutive night. To top things off, he only had 11 laps to pass at least 10 fast cars. A subsequent restart with eight laps remaining found the friendly driver still lurking outside of the top 10. Things were not looking good, but you can never count Chiaramonte out. With three laps to go, he was 10th. At the start of the last lap, he was still 10th but in typical “Braden Chiaramonte Never Give Up Style,” he passed three cars to finish seventh!!!
For the finale, Chiaramonte started 24th. Once the green flag opened the action, he started his usual progress towards the front. By lap six, he had raced by eight cars and was up to 16th. All indications were pointing to another great “Chiaramonte Run.” Sadly, that was taken away when another car got into him. The contact moved the front axle over about two inches and a pin fell out of the left rear shackle. It all added up to a DNF and a 24th-place finish.
While the race did not end the way Chiaramonte wanted, he was clearly one of the fastest drivers at the track over the three days. In addition, of the more than 60 different drivers who showed up, he was one of only 14 of them to qualify for all three main events.
This weekend Chiaramonte is off. Next week he is headed to the Lil Texas Speedway in Fort Worth for the three-night Micro Mania. The second annual running of the race will take place on September 21st, 22nd, and 23rd. The winner of the main event on the 23rd will take home $10,000.00.
After Texas, the team will book it to the “Richest Weekend In Micro Racing,” the Dirt2Media Deuces Wild Shootout, on September 28th, 29th, and 30th at Indiana’s US24 Raceway. For Stock Non-Wing and Winged A Class Micros, the preliminary main events in each class will pay $1,222.22 each night. At the finale on Saturday, the winner in each class will pocket a cool $12,222.22.
The ambitious team will continue to zig-zag its way across the country when it heads back to the “Golden State” for the annual Cal Cup at the Lemoore Jet Bowl on October 12th, 13th, and 14th. It will turn right around and make the 1,543-mile jaunt to Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Port City Raceway for the finals of the 5th Annual Keith Kunz Giveback Classic on the third weekend in October.
Chiaramonte would like to thank all his sponsors who have made his racing efforts possible. RTL Traffic Control, AM Ortega, Hyper Racing, King Racing Products, Tiner-Hirst Enterprises, and Keizer Wheels.
Braden Chiaramonte PR