Effective Saturday night, no driver in the storied history of Bowman Gray Stadium had won more featured-division races than Junior Miller.
Junior Miller moved one step closer to history Saturday at Bowman Gray Stadium by tying Ralph Brinkley on the stadium's all-time victory list, leading all the way in the Tucson 100.
With his win in the Tucson 100, Junior Miller tied the Bowman Gray record for feature wins. (BG photos)
It was the 64th career victory for Miller, who is one away from sole possession of the all-time record.
"I'm proud to tie him," Miller said. "Ralph was one of the toughest competitors over here. Me and him used to run over each other sometimes, but he's one of my heroes. Now we just need one more to go out in front of him."
Brinkley, who no longer races, won 64 times in the stadium's Modified Division from 1973 through 1996. Miller registered his first victory in 1979.
"I remember passing Roger Hill with two laps to go to win that one," Miller said. "It's been so long ago I don't exactly remember how I felt, but I know it felt real good. And I'm sure the next race we win (the record-breaker) will feel even better."
Miller started out the night by turning a disappointing lap of 13.833 – only 17th fastest.
But Lady Luck had a say in the matter when the competitors drew for starting position in the Tucson 100. The pole sitter, Tim Brown, drew a starting position of last place, while Miller drew the pole position.
“We tried something different tonight that we thought would help us in the race”, Miller said while signing fan autographs. “It didn’t work very well for qualifying but it is fast in race conditions. We know what to do know.”
Junior's #69 takes a victory lap around Bowman Gray Stadium.
When the green flag fell in the Tucson 100, Miller jumped out into the lead in his Hayes Jewelers, Advance Auto Parts , Valvoline, Sunoco Race Fuels, Pilat Graphic Design , Leaf Racewear , Don & Dee Stone Dodge . The King of the Southern Modifieds received several challenges from second place Robert Jeffreys of Winston-Salem. “You got to hit a man once in a while over here in the lead just to try to see if he’ll mess up and you can get by him,” said Jeffreys. But Miller’s driving was flawless, keeping him in the lead for the entire 100 lap race. “Junior could run 500 laps and never mess up,” said Jeffreys.
“We had a good race car tonight. When we got out front, we had the car to beat,” said Junior Miller about his car.
The victory was obviously a significant one for Miller, who has declared that breaking the record for most all-time Bowman Gray Stadium feature victories is on the very top of his agenda.
Junior tied that record tonight, and hopes to beat Ralph Brinkley’s record very soon. “Ralph’s one of my heroes over here. I’m going to see if I can’t go out in front of him and be a better hero,” said Miller.
Miller celebrated by waving the Sunococheckered flag after climbing out of his car, but he later had to wait word of a possible inspection after Jeffreys protested the victory for engine compression relative to car weight. The protest wasn't accepted by John Horton, the track's race director, after consultation with John Penny, the track's technical inspector.
Miller won this season's opening race, but he had to endure three second-place finishes before last night's tying victory.
"Anything good is tough to get," Miller said.
Miller jumped past Burt Myers in the season points standings; he leads Myers by 10 points heading into next Saturday's doubleheader.