Braden Langille raced to a seventh-place finish in his first IWK 250 at Riverside International Speedway.
Thirty drivers competed in the annual event – one of the jewels in the Parts for Trucks Pro Stock Tour season – which wrapped up Sunday afternoon (July 15) on the high banks of the James River, Antigonish County track.
The race spanned two days because, on the previous night, rain led to a postponement after 74 laps.
“It was awesome,” the 16-year-old from Shubenacadie said in the pits, shortly after the checkered flag, when asked his experience.
“My birthday is in four days, so last year I missed [being able to compete] by four days, which was disappointing.”
Langille described the experience as “an awesome weekend,” calling Riverside a “top-notch facility.”
“Everyone is incredible, including the fans, which makes it so great,” he said.
Driving the #51 car, in his first campaign with Nova Racing, the teenager picked up the Exide Batteries Rookie of the Race and the King Freight Lines Future Winner award.
“Braden had a pretty good day – I thought he was going to run in the top-five for a bit,” Donald Chisholm, Nova Racing owner and veteran driver, said shortly after the race.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to him but, I think, the car just went away from him a little bit. Over a run, some cars get better and some cars, sort of, get worse.
“He had a strong day, probably one of his best races this year. He will continue to get it; it takes some time and it takes a little bit to figure it out, but he will get it,” he added.
Chisholm noted his young team member “did a great job today.”
“He stayed out of trouble and finished the race. You have got to finish [the race] to win it, so it is good start for him,” he said.
Before joining Nova Racing for this Pro Stock Tour season, Langille helped around the Antigonish-based team’s shop and served as a test driver. He also drove their #88 car in four races during the last half of the 2017 campaign.
“They are top-notch people. They are so loving and giving,” Langille said of Nova Racing, noting the team “gave me a race car.”
“You don’t see many people like that. Everyone is so helpful and anything that I want or need, they try their very best to help.
“They make me feel like family,” he added.
As for highlights of the IWK 250 weekend, Langille reflected on the relationship he struck up with NASCAR legend Kenny Wallace – who was his teammate and drove the IWK Cat Car for Kids in the race – which he described as “pretty special.”
“We have been best buds this weekend and we will, probably, have a relationship from now on,” Langille said.
He noted Wallace remembered him from a previous meeting in Texas.
“That was pretty cool,” Langille said.
Although pleased with his top-10 finish, it doesn’t mean that Langille was satisfied.
“We come for one reason – we come to win and that’s just the way it is. I don’t come to finish second, I come to win,” he said.
“But, to finish behind who I did, it is just awesome. They have 10,000 laps here and I have 500. To be able to race with them is awesome, and to finish ahead of some of them and be right with them, it means the world to me.”