ARENA RACING USA GETS ROWDY IN CHARLOTTE by Amy Hayes
Travis Miller Takes on Cup Drivers and Wins
Arena Racing USA made its debut in Charlotte on Wednesday night October 11th at the Cricket Arena. With Charlotte being the home of motorsports, anticipation was built up for this new type of racing and several cup drivers showed up to partake in the event including Kyle “Rowdy” Busch, Tony Stewart, JJ Yeley, Denny Hamlin and JD Gibbs.
“We started 14th out of 15 cars,” added Miller. “The first couple of cars fell out. So we just rode around and worked our way up front, but the last few cars were hard to get by.
“We usually don’t have the number of cautions that we had tonight; definitely not this bad. There were a bunch of rookies in the race which caused a couple of problems. It will get better throughout the season.”
Fans of demolition derbies and or bumpers cars would have enjoyed the spectacle that was Arena Racing USA. Every single one of the features had cautions on the start. Cars tried to go two-wide through most of the event.
The night was called the Fed Ex 250, yet only 200 laps were run. The cars were split into three different groups based on their pill draw selections and three 50-lap “main” events were run. The top six cars from the first event, four from the second and third and all of the Cup drivers (minus Tony Stewart - more later) participated in the final 50-lap “Top Dog” event.
Travis Miller, who has also spent time racing with the USAR Hooters Pro Cup Series, was able to beat out the Cup drivers and take home the inaugural win of the Arena Racing USA Charlotte division. But behind Miller, there was plenty of beating and banging all night long.
“It was a little rough out there tonight,” said Miller. “I am not sure if it was intentional or what was going on. My little brother was running the #50 car and he got into Denny (Hamlin) a little bit and I don’t know if Denny thought it was me, but he hit me every chance he got. It was pretty fun though.”
Miller didn’t exactly have it easy getting up to the front. He had to work his way past the field as he started in the last row.
Travis Miller claimed the first win of the 2006 Arena Racing Season. (51 photos)
When asked by the announcer if he did that on purpose, Stewart said, “maybe just a little.”
Midgett was a little confused as to what led to the events.
“I was running third and Tony got under me and pinched
me in the wall,” said Midgett. “I guess he thought that I
got mad at him. I thought he was going to go and he
hit the brakes. The track was so slick that I just hit him.
Then he waited for me to come back and got into me.
“The cars not hurt very bad, just some cosmetic damage.
It won’t be that hard to fix so it was still a lot of fun. We
will be back.”
Arena Racing as a whole was rather rough. The cars that
made it to the end were the ones that could take the
beating and banging and who weren’t afraid to take a few
risks throughout the night. Those that couldn’t just pulled to the middle, out of the way. If Wednesday night’s event is anything to go by, there are plenty of more action-packed and wrecked-filled nights to come because Arena Racing is here to stay in Charlotte.
After the first three cautions, the caution laps began to count. That was a good thing because the four-hour event would have been much longer had the caution laps not count. Features started at seven and racing was over around 10:30.
One of the most exciting things that happened all night long occurred in the “C” Main when former NEXTEL Cup Champion Tony Stewart got a little bothered with how he was being raced by Matt Midgett. Tony fell back and demonstrated his frustrations by stuffing Midgett into the wall to the pleasure of the fans that had gathered to see the Nextel Cup drivers take to the track.
The aftermath of Stewart and Midgett's incident.
Before his race started, Tony Stewart worked on Denny Hamlin's car.