ducked under Baker. Baker pinched Myers down as the two cars raced into turn-three. Myers slid the left wheels up on the grass and their two cars made heavy contact with Myers coming out on top.
Baker didn’t like the aggressive move and showed it by not lifting going into the next turn and slamming Myers. The two cars crashed bringing out the yellow and cheers from the raucous crowd.
MILLER AVOIDS MUCH MAYHEM FOR STADIUM MOD WIN By Matthew Dillner
Tempers Erupt In Wild Night of Bowman Gray Action
It’s something you have read on Speed51.com before… “there’s always a story at The Stadium.”
The 2006 Bowman Gray Stadium season has been one of the most mild-mannered in the history of the bullring known as “the Madhouse.” After weeks of follow-the-leader modified 'snoozers', the action erupted during last week’s Coca-Cola 100-lap Modified feature.
Just how wild of a night was it? Well, let's just say that the post-race pushing matches in the pit area didn’t even hold a candle to the drama that unfolded on the track.
The madness started as the green flag dropped and you could feel the buzz from the 15-thousand fans gathered around the ¼ mile oval. Even the “King of the Southern Modifieds” and Bowman Gray points leader Junior Miller sensed the type of night it was going to be and took preventative measures from the get-go.
“I told my boys before the race started that I was going to let that 1-car (Burt Myers) go because I knew he was going to wreck me because that was the only chance he had to catch up in the points,” said Miller. “I pulled over to let him go and he ran into the side of me about three times. He got by me and I just rode around because I knew something was going to happen.”And what happened after that was a duel reminiscent to the old-days of Short Track racing.
Burt Myers’ was a man on a mission. He wanted to get by Earl Baker’s #30 and get by quick. With a tap to the bumper, Myers
“You can write it down because it will all come back around. I promise!”
The veteran Miller had a birds-eye-view of the incident and wasn’t surprised with the outcome.
“He got up beside Earl (Baker) and passed him in the grass,” explained Miller. “He took Earl all the way to the fence. Then they got un-tangled and took on off down the front straightaway and I knew it was coming. Earl just went in there and K-9’d him and turned him around. Then the 1-car (Myers) came down there and parked and Earl decided he wanted to puncture his fuel cell. I don’t know what happened. I thought it was funny but I knew it was going to happen.”
When the always personable Burt Myers shared some laughs with law enforcement before the race, he probably never thought he would be seeing them later in the night. (51 Photos)
Myers parked his car in turn three under the yellow flag. That is when the situation escalated. Baker stepped on the gas and drove his car hard into the rear of Myers. The hit was so hard it split the fuel cell open on Myers’ #1 car. Luckily no fire ensued, but both cars were done for the night. Law enforcement led a disgusted Myers off the track and into the paddock area.
“Well I thought I could race clean with Earl Baker without him turning down on me and when we got to the corner I was up to his door and he decided to turn left and run me down into the grass,” said Myers of the initial contact. “The next thing you know we got down into to one and he hadn’t lifted yet.”
Baker made no mistake in admitting that he didn’t like Myers’ driving tactics and that the retaliation was certainly intentional.
“All of a sudden this black and orange car, I don’t know who that guy is, came through the grass and body-slammed me,” said an irate Baker. “Ain’t nobody gonna drive me like that. I don’t care who it is! Mr. Burt Myers if you want some more… come and get me buddy.”
Myers thought the dump was enough retaliation and that the caution-flag payback was even more unnecessary.
“It wasn’t bad enough that he had spun me out and put me in the rear of the field. He came back around and ran into the back of my racecar. Any respect I had for Earl Baker is totally 100% gone. He will never, ever, ever get anything else from me again. I don’t even ever want to see his face again. I don’t have to tolerate people like that. I was surprised that he hit me that hard. The part that got me worst was that after he came back around and rammed me again and busted my fuel cell bladder and everything. And for what… a wreck that he caused to start with?
Pro Cup Series regular Mike Herman is no push over. Although he did keep his cool after behing spun out of the race lead.
When the dust settled from the Myers-Baker craziness, all eyes switched focus to the battle for the lead. Hooters Pro Cup Series veteran Mike Herman, who is racing part-time in the Mod ranks at the Stadium, was in the lead from his pole starting spot. But Herman had a mirror full of Stadium regular Brad Robbins.
At Bowman Gray, nobody, no matter what their stature in the sport, is exempt from the chrome horn treatment. Herman learned that lesson the hard way when he was spun out of the lead by Robbins.
“This is Bowman Gray Stadium,” said Herman in his trailer after the race. “I never felt him one time back there. He just came in there and knocked me out. You
(TOP) Myers #1 sits wrecked with the #30 of Baker.
(MIDDLE) Baker is cheered on by fans moments before the caution-flag retaliation.
(BOTTOM) The remains of Myers' car after contact from Baker under the yellow flag.
can come in here and do that to anybody…it doesn’t matter whether it’s a six-time champion or what. If you want to go in there and take him out you can go in there and get it. The biggest thing is you probably have to lose one or two like that before you win one here. No doubt about it I’m not going to get discouraged about that. I’ll be back. What do you do, but suck it up and come back?”
Robbins claimed that the bump was warranted since Herman wasn’t giving him enough room to challenge for the lead.
“He (Herman) had me going down the straightaway in power, but he is stopping in the corners,” said Robbins. “So I ran up and tapped him four or five times, but he didn’t give me anything. He turns it down so hard he breaks himself sideways. So I ask my spotter to ask his spotter to just give me something. Let’s race! If he can win it that’s fine, just give me some room to race. My spotter called me back and said he wasn’t giving me anything. So I tapped him a few more times and really I thought I had him sideways enough I could turn under him, but he would almost stop. So the next time I got him sideways like that I pushed him on around. I didn’t want to hurt his car. I didn’t want to hurt him. I didn’t want to tear anything up, but he’s holding me up and I have Junior Miller right on my butt so I had to go.”
Herman understands the bump-to-pass culture that is Bowman Gray Stadium, but believes in the same breath that it’s hard to give someone the room they want at such a tight bullring.
“The last time I checked he (Robbins) has raced at Bowman Gray a couple more times than I have,” said Herman. “This is a bull ring. This is a quarter mile and we are leading the son of a bitchin’ race. If there’s one thing that I can take from the whole night is that I think that was chicken sh-t. To send your spotter up there to give me room when we are leading the friggin’ race? I’m up there trying to get my air pressures up to where it can
Brad Robbins' #40 at speed at the Stadium.
handle and hopefully get away from him. That doesn’t show any class right there. I ain’t backing off for anybody. I race with Bobby Gill and those guys (Hooters Pro Cup Series) every week and I don’t give them anything so I am definitely not giving these guys anything. Like I said I am just trying to make laps, earn respect, and hopefully they will treat me like one of there own. Next time hopefully his spotter won’t come over and say anything like that because I wouldn’t ever say anything like that and have anybody move over for me either”
When Robbins’ spun Herman around in a plume of smoke, Junior Miller narrowly avoided disaster to land himself in second spot.
“I knew something was going to happen there too,” said Miller of the Herman spin. “When the 34-car (Herman) spun he turned around and burned the tires up. Man I couldn’t see nothing but smoke! I was just hoping that Brad (Robbins) was through it. I got on the brakes to stop and had to drive through that smoke. I almost stopped completely but someone hit me in the rear. When I took off I just looked as good as I could and it was like driving blindfold for about ten or fifteen car lengths. I came out of the smoke and it was clear. That is the chance you take and I got out of there.”
Luckily for Robbins, Junior Miller wasn’t asking with his spotter or his front bumper for Robbins to get out of his way. Miller tried high and low and made very little contact with the rear of Robbins' #40 but was able to slip by for the lead and the win.
“He (Robbins) was overdriving every corner,” claimed the Six-Time Stadium Champ. “The tires weren’t going to last on that car. He was pushing the front tires in and spinning the tires off. He drove in one time hard enough where he went wide and I just went on in under him.”
Miller jumped out to a commanding lead while Robbins faded when his car went down a cylinder. But “The King” wasn’t out of the woods just yet. Just when it looked as if he had an easy win lined up, a last lap lapped traffic jam gave the fans, and Junior himself, a thrill.
It's been an All-Miller year at the Stadium. Junior has not only broken the All-time win mark but now has a commanding points lead. (ERIC HYLTON PHOTO)
“That last lap was the hardest I had to work all night. I caught two lapped cars. One was on the inside and one on the outside. I looked in the mirror and Michael Clifton was coming and I backed plum on the brakes. Then I just got back on the gas and took a chance and drove between them. I rubbed one on the outside and when I came back to the inside I rubbed one on the inside. I got through by the chinny chin chin.”
Miller avoided hot tempers, crashes, spins and obstacles to take his record-extending 67th career victory at the Stadium. The crafty veteran, widely known for his aggressive nature in a Modified, put his and rival Burt Myers’ night into perspective.
“Fifteen years ago I drove the same way Burt (Myers) is driving today,” said Miller after the crazy night. “I would catch a man and knock him. After three licks he was out. That is what Burt does now. I don’t think he gives him three licks. I think he does one lick and out. Fifteen years ago I would give a guy that third lick and he was going to go somewhere and I would go on by. Sooner or later that catches up with you. He’s made a lot of people mad this year. Tonight, he gave Earl a lick and Earl licked him back.
“I have a little points lead now and I know what I have to do to clinch it,” said the veteran. “I did what I wanted to accomplish this year in breaking the record for the most wins here. Now I want to win the championship for these boys.”
Miller will get a chance to extend his points lead in a 50-lap Stadium Mod show on Friday night. The he will do battle in his Tour Mod as the NASCAR Whelen Southern Mod Tour visits Bowman Gray for the Advance Auto Parts 199 on Saturday Night.
Will the 'bump to pass' be as much of a factor in the NASCAR Southern Mod Tour Race? Rest assured, Speed51.com will have the story because 'there is always a story at the Stadium.'
Miller celebrates win number-67 with the K-Ville Mafia Crew, family and friends. (51 Photos)