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Kitchen Making Sure to Have Fun While Leading Story & Bleich Crown Stocks
158
5/29/2024

5/29/2024

Five Flags Speedway


Kitchen Making Sure to Have Fun While Leading Story & Bleich Crown Stocks

Kitchen Making Sure to Have Fun While Leading Story & Bleich Crown Stocks

By Chuck Corder
5flagsspeedway.com reporter

Braeden Kitchen has found a keeper in girlfriend Autumn Henderson.
Not only does she help Kitchen procure sponsors, but you’ll find Henderson turning wrenches on Friday nights as her boyfriend of two years competes in the Story and Bleich Roofing Crown Stocks series.

“She does it all,” said the 25-year-old, who sits atop the Crown Stocks points standings through five races. “It’s awesome. A lotta guys’ wives and girlfriends might complain about spending money for racing. But honestly, she spends more money on the car than I do. We’re going to build her a Crown Vic. to drive before the season’s over.”
That’ll be just one more car Kitchen will have to pass when that night arrives. For now, the Perdido driver looks to build off his first career win earlier this month at Mobile International Speedway when the Crown Stocks return Friday to Five Flags Speedway for another 20-lap feature.
While he’s still looking for win No. 1 at Five Flags, Kitchen’s consistency throughout the season has catapulted him to the top of the series. He holds a slim, one-point margin against veteran Okie Mason, who has two victories this year.

“I’m getting more comfortable driving asphalt,” Kitchen said. “I’ve got 14 years racing dirt, so it took some time getting used to asphalt.”
Kitchen and the Crown Stocks will be joined on the famed half-mile oval asphalt this week by the Allen Turner Hyundai Pro Late Models (100 laps), Gulf Real Estate Group Pro Trucks (30) and the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks (20).
The grandstands open at 5 p.m. Friday with PLM qualifying scheduled for 7 and racing slated at 8. Admission is $15 (adults), $12 (seniors, military and students), $5 for children (ages 6-11) and free for the little ones.
In five races, Kitchen has three podiums and has not finished outside the top-five in a class that regularly sees 20-plus car counts. He raced less than half of last year’s schedule and still mustered a ninth-place result in the points championship.

The Kitchen name is a familiar one at Five Flags. Braeden’s uncles Willie, Pete and Michael all competed in the early-2000s at Pensacola’s high banks.
“Uncle Willie was the one that really lit my spark with racing,” Braeden Kitchen said. “We’re very similar. He always included me when it came to racing and doing fun stuff. The first time I drove on asphalt was his Sportsmen when I was 12.”

Carrying the torch for the family’s legacy motivates him. Kitchen has driven at dirt tracks across the south, making it up to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway when the iconic pavement venue got dusty a few years ago.
He was drawn to the Crown Stocks class because of the challenge of handling these 4,000-pound beasts through the turns and its grassroots’ affordability. Kitchen is happy in the division and looks to be a serious series contender for years to come.

“It brings back the old style of racing,” he said. “Three- and four-wide racing. You have to drive the snot outta these things and that makes things fun.
“The fun part is getting something this heavy, going into the corners and you can feel it roll over and settle down. It’s exciting. That’s the challenge of everything being stock and not a racecar.”
Kitchen makes sure to embrace each challenge while maintaining a healthy balance of enjoying the experience of living out a childhood dream instilled by Uncle Willie.

“I got tired of getting off of work and going to work,” Braeden Kitchen said. “Racing can be your life and it’s a job, but you also can have fun while you do it.”


Article Credit: David Kranak Photos

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