10. (10) Frank Fleming, Mount Airy N.C., Pontiac, 150, $550
11. (4) Jay Foley, Stuart Va., Chevrolet, 149, $525
12. (15) Bobby Hutchens, Lexington N.C., Chevrolet, 148, $500
13. (12) Kevin Eckerich, Clayton N.C., Chevrolet, 147, $470
14. (14) Jay Mize, Clemmons N.C., Chevrolet, 144, $430
15. (3) Alex Hoag, Bath N.Y., Chevrolet, 62, $410
If you don’t know it by now, Junior Miller’s well-known nickname around the south is “King of the Southern Modifieds.” On Saturday night, Miller showed why that moniker is worthy of the 54-year-old.
The 12-time Modified champion scored his second-straight NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour victory, and his third of the season, leading the final 16 laps on Saturday night’s race at Caraway Speedway.
Leading just 16 laps doesn’t sound all the impressive, but how the veteran got there showed why he is still the “King of the Southern Modifieds.”
Miller grabbed the pole for the event, but had to start eighth after the invert. On Monday at Ace Speedway, Junior proved that coming from the back of the field to win wasn’t hard, as he started ninth that day before taking the checkers.
Miller, with fellow veteran Tim Brown in tow, used patience and persistence to slowly move their way to the front during Saturday night’s 150-lap event. Without using up their tires too much too early, both Miller and Brown had some left for the end.
But the time the two had made it to second and third respectively, Miller finally made his move on race dominator Michael Clifton. Clifton, who led 132 laps, had a car whose handling was slowly slipping. Miller’s #69 was still right on the money, and it showed.
It took Junior just a few laps to pressure Clifton and eventually make the pass. Brown followed suit, but as soon at Miller for out front, the final 16 laps were his, as he cruised to the win and extended his season-long points lead over Burt Myers once again.
“My crew gave me a good racecar tonight,” said Miller. “What you
gotta do at this place is wait. I just sat back there and rode around for a while. I saved my tires all until that last run. I saw them up there racing hard and I knew they’d use there stuff up, so I just stayed where I could be in contention at the end.
“There just came a point and I said ‘come on.’ It worked out for us tonight.”
Miller wasn’t worried about his eighth-place starting spot all night long. He knew he had a car that would be the car to beat.
“Any time the I can sit on the pole, we are going to be pretty hard to beat,” joked Miller. “You really don’t want to start that far back thought. I’d rather been about fourth or fifth, where I could save my tires, but still be close to the front. I’d like to have been closer, but I wouldn’t’ have liked to have been on the pole. It worked out though.
“It sat on the pole tonight, so I had some confidence in the car. It is the first time I’ve put it on the pole this year. We came from ninth last week, so I figured we could come from eighth tonight.”
Junior Miller fell off over while celebrating last time at Caraway. Not this time though. He just scored the win and took it in style. (Robert Everhart photo)
Clifton eventually fell back to fourth at the finish. It didn’t take him long to get to the front though. After starting seventh, he took the lead from Alex Hoag on the third lap, then paced the field until getting passed by Miller near the end.
Junior's #69 came on late and came on strong.
“We just burnt the right rear off of it trying to stay out front,” said a dejected Clifton after the race. “I knew they were coming, but we were strong. We about lapped (Miller, Brown and Myers) in the first 50 laps. I knew right then we were going to have a pretty good car.
“I car was real good at the start. Even about the middle portion of the race, I tried to take it easy and save the tires, but we burnt them up. Oh well.”
The second-place run was Brown’s third runner up finish this year.
“At the start, starting as far back as me and Junior did,
Michael Clifton (51 Photo)
there is no sense in running real hard and using your stuff up,” said Brown, who won this year’s Bowman Gray Modified championship. “I talked to Junior before the race today and we decided to sit back there and ride. It worked out to where I could just follow him and use him to pick off a few cars there. I just used him to come up through there. I knew about 75 laps into the race that me and Junior were going to be the cars to beat.
“I tried a couple of moves on him too because I figured if I got by him, that would have been the way it would have come out. That is just how it goes. I’m happy to finish second and not tear up the car. We’ll work on it, make it better and hopefully win when we come back here in a couple of weeks.”
Burt Myers finished third, but that was like a victory to him. The fan favorite was as far back as 12th in the 15-car field at one point, just seconds from going a lap down. But a mid-race pit stop to tighten the car up brought Burt back through the field and to an eventually third-place finish. He lost just a few points to Miller in the point standings and trails by just 19.
“I’ll take it. We’re not happy with it. We’re just satisfied,” said Myers.
Clifton and Jason Myers rounded out the top-five.
Tim Brown collected yet another second-place finish. (51 Photo)