Coming off a convincing win in the “CLS/SWLS Best of the West” lightning sprint car main event last Saturday at the Imperial Valley Raceway, 16-year-old Braden Chiaramonte will be making his USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series debut this Saturday night, March 18th, at Perris Auto Speedway. In addition to his win last Saturday at Imperial, he placed ninth in his first-ever full-size wingless sprint car race.
As a late replacement in the potent Sexton Gatlin Racing #3, El Cajon, California-based Chiaramonte dazzled the crowd in round #2 of the “Best of the West Series” that was co-sanctioned by the POWRi Southwest Lightning Sprint Cars and the California Lightning Sprint Car Series. The fast-rising 16-year-old impressed the crowd in qualifying with a lap of 11.819. That was nearly half of a second faster than the number two qualifier.
The young driver who is known as “Spare Change” started on the outside of the third row in sixth in the first heat race. He didn’t stay there long. When the green flag waved to start the heat, he immediately went to the outside. By the time the field exited turn two on the first lap, he was already up to third! Going into turn one on the third circuit, he blasted into the second-place spot. The only problem at that time was the leader had established more than a half-straightaway lead. Chiaramonte immediately began chipping away at his disadvantage. Coming off turn 2 on the last lap, he had erased the leader’s colossal advantage and dove to the inside going into turn three. Putting the crowd on its feet, he tried to sneak up the inside on the run to the checkers but ran out of room and had to settle for a crowd-pleasing second-place finish.
When the lightning sprint 25-lap main rolled onto the track, Chiaramonte was on the inside of row three. The teen sensation began a march to the front on the third circuit. Running in sixth, he bravely went wide going into turn three. Much to the delight of the fans, by the time he exited turn four, he had passed two cars and was up to fourth. One lap later he flew by the previous night’s winner for third. He went to work again after a lap nine restart and by the time the 11th go-around was over, he was the race leader.
A couple more yellows slowed the action and allowed the rest of the competition to pull to his rear for restarts. Each time he pulled away and when the checkered flag ended it, he had a good size cushion between himself and his closest pursuer.
Earlier in the night, Chiaramonte placed second in the B main. That earned him a ticket to start near the back of the A main in his first-ever full-size wingless sprint car race. Having to come from the B main, he had to start near the back. Once again, he performed flawlessly. He methodically worked his way forward throughout the race. He stayed away from trouble and when the checkers came down, he had steered his Shaver Engines 360 to a very nice ninth-place finish against a field of seasoned veterans, many of whom were driving 410s.
Never one to turn down a challenge, Chiaramonte takes another step in his racing career this Saturday at Southern California’s Perris Auto Speedway. He will make his debut in the USAC/CRA Sprint Car Series in the 20th annual “Sokola Shootout.” The competition will once again be another step up and the famous Riverside County half-mile oval will be the biggest track he has raced a full-size sprint car on.
Spectator gates at Perris Auto Speedway will open at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and the first race will be at 7:00. The track is located on the Lake Perris Fairgrounds at 18700 Lake Perris Drive in the city of Perris (92571). Advance tickets are available 24 hours a day at https://www.tix.com/ticket-sales/pas/7. The track website is www.perrisautospeedway.com and the office phone number is (951) 940-0134.
Chiaramonte would like to thank all his 2023 sponsors. RTL Traffic Control, AM Ortega, King Racing Products, Tiner-Hirst Enterprises, and Keizer Wheels.
Braden Chiaramonte PR