LW Miller Steals Southern Mod Win At Caraway Speedway by Jason Buckley
Late Race Move Leaves One Driver Happy and Another Fuming
We’ve seen it a million times in short track racing; somebody moves somebody else on the last lap and the emotion boils over on both sides. It’s what keeps racing fans coming back for more, whether it is in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup or the NASCAR Mods.
This time it was the later. The personable, yet fiery, Jason Myers took the green flag in Saturday night’s rain-rescheduled NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified event looking cross the finish line first ahead of 17 other competitors. Throughout the race it looked like Myers was well on his way to the victory; he dominated the top spot for the majority of the race. But with 10 laps to go, in classic fashion, LW Miller moved Myers out of the way to take the top spot and the win. Myers finished second and as most people who were “moved” late in the race would be, visibly frustrated.
LW Miller is two for two at Caraway this season. (51 Photos)
“It was a good race,” said Miller. “We had a great car, and this is good to get a win at this point in the season. This is the same race we won as our first one in 2006 on our way to the championship, so hopefully we can get about five more in for the rest of this season.”
Miller was a quiet factor all day long. He only took a few laps in practice, and secured himself a fourth-place starting position. But once the race started, the fans (all of the 200 or so that braved the cold) weren’t really looking too much at Miller, the only car they saw was the No. 59 of Matt Hirschman.
Hirschman had started from the sixth position but he quickly found his way up front. By lap five he was the in the lead and would stay that way for a majority of the race.
Miller spent much of his time throughout the race running around the sixth position by himself. While Hirschman appeared to be running away with the event, it seemed as though the ‘King of the Southern Modifieds’ was going to have to settle for a top-five, or even a top-10, finish yet again.
“He couldn’t have got by me unless he done me dirty, and he done me dirty,” said Myers after the event. “I have been racing with a lot of these guys for a long time and some of them do you dirty. You just have to remember it for next time.”
“I ran him up the track a little bit,” said Miller. “That is short track racing.”
Myers started his #4 Mod machine from the first position and at the start of the race jumped out ahead of the field. While positions behind Myers changed as drivers positioned themselves throughout the race, Myers focused on getting his car out to a healthy lead.
“The car stayed perfect all night,” said Myers. “It was running the same lap times at the end that it was at the beginning. I tried to get as much lead as I could because I knew LW Miller, Burt (Myers, his brother), Junior Miller and those guys were coming. I wanted to get out as far as I could.”
Meanwhile, LW Miller stayed anxiously patient. Starting from the fifth position, Miller hung out around the top five, not making much noise, waiting for the right moment to move through the field.
“Everybody kind of strung out at the beginning of the race,” said Miller. “I knew we had a real good car, but I didn’t want to use it up early because I didn’t want to burn the tires up. When it got to lap 100 and the caution still didn’t come out, at that point I put it into my brain that I needed to race to the front and run them down under green, which I did. I got to second and I was closing in on the #4 car every lap. Then finally the caution came out.
“My car takes about 10 laps to really get going good. So I got under him on the restart with 25 laps to go. I raced him clean, but I knew I needed laps to make it work. Then with 15 laps to go, I knew if I wanted to make it work I had to go then.”
With it being ‘go time’ for Miller, he worked his way to the back bumper of Myers. With just 10 laps remaining, contact between the two sent Myers up the hill as Miller drove by. Myers kept the car off the wall and tried to run down Miller for the top spot, but the laps ran out as the two took the checkered flag first and second.
Miller downplayed the move which gave him the victory, claiming it is just a part of racing.
“They were a little upset about that,” said Miller. “I am sure once they think about that they will be fine. I didn’t wreck him. I ran him up the track and drove away.”
Myers, on the other hand, felt the way he raced Miller in the past wasn’t respected this time around.
“I remember finishing second in a race last year to LW up at Friendship,” said Myers. “I had a better car than he did and I didn’t do him wrong. I would have rather him hit me with the front bumper and not the side. But we will come back. We had a great race
Jason Myers started up front and looked destined for victory until he was moved out of the way by LW Miller.
car. It never gave up and stayed under me all night long. From some of the runs we have had this year and having a crash, we will take second and be tickled to death with it.”
Saturday’s win at Caraway Speedway was the second win of the season for LW Miller, the other being the season opener for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, also at the same track. The 2007 series schedule puts the Mod drivers at the .455-mile oval asphalt short track six times, placing focus on solid runs at Caraway for the teams, and confidence for Miller to have a great points finish this season.
“I have always loved Caraway Speedway,” said Miller. “It is, as far as I am concerned, probably the greatest race track we go to. You can race; you can pass and you can run hard. The track has actually gotten better this year over the last few years. The grip seems to be real good in the track so you can run the cars pretty hard. I told my guys coming into this season about the tour of 12 races. To win the championship, you have to be the dominant car at Caraway Speedway. So that is what we set our sites to do. I feel we have a great car everywhere else but this is where we are working hard and it shows.
“I won the first race of the season and finished second in the second race. Then we went to Greenville-Pickens two weeks ago and broke 40 laps in, so I finished dead last. My great points lead went to a deficit of 50 points. Obviously we closed that back up tonight, but it is going to be a tight points race all year long. Junior Miller is cagey. I will never count him out and I will never count Tim Brown out, and by the looks of things I will not count Burt Myers out. Those guys are all on their money this year so we have to have some luck to go with our great team.”
Burt Myers Rebounds for a Third-Place Finish
If you would have told Burt Myers he would come home with a third place finish at lap 100 of the 150 lap event, he would have laughed.
After the redraw, fast qualifier Burt Myers started the #1 Modified from the sixth position. Early on, Myers dropped back a few positions, but then worked his way around traffic on the high side, running into the top five. The run towards the front stalled out for Myers, as he dropped back through the field with an ill-handling car.
“We weren’t sure what was going on with the car,” said Myers. “We started getting real loose. After the race we saw our stagger grew up real big in the back. It is one of those deals that you are disappointed in, but it is better that you found what was wrong. With the stagger we had in the rear, we should have been loose and we were.”
Myers pitted late in the race, looking to move up through the field. When the green flag flew with just 24 laps to go, the #1 machine weaved his way from the back to third position.
“Before we pitted we had an eighth to 10th place car. But after we pitted we came back up to finish third. I knew the car would be a whole lot better because it was so bad before the pit stop. It is always fun when your car is good and you know you are going to be able to pass somebody. It makes it fun.”
In the first four races of 2007, Burt Myers has been the fastest qualifier, setting a NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified record for the most consecutive pole positions in series history. While the prestige of the record is something he enjoys, Myers would rather take home the victory trophy.
“I wish I had the record for the most wins in a row,” said Myers. “We come to win. If we set on the pole it is a bonus. It at least gives everyone something to talk about. I tell ya, I would trade all four poles for a win. We are right there; it is just a matter of getting it nailed down.”
Frank Fleming Uses Old Skills to Finish Fifth
Age is just a number, according to Frank Fleming.
Burt Myers is the man when it comes to qualifying this season. (51 Photos)
Starting 12th, Fleming used experience and knowledge to slowly work his way up through the field. By the halfway point, the #07 car was running in third position, looking towards the lead. Late in the event he made the move for second position and looked to challenge for the lead. But his car fell off the pace so Fleming had to settle for a fifth place finish.
“My car was awesome,” said Fleming. “I got mired back in traffic. I had to start so far back that we ran the car to death to get to the front. When we got there, I had used my right rear tire up. Those boys came back on me; I couldn’t hold them off so we finished fifth. I believe it is the first race I have finished competitive this year. I am just glad to be part of it and back in the show. Maybe we can keep this thing running now.”
While some older drivers get frustrated with the younger crop coming in, 47-year-old Fleming invites the challenge, and enjoys the competition.
“I remember when I was a 20-to-25 year old kid running with old men. I know the way I was treated a lot and I decided I wouldn’t treat others that way. To tell you the truth, I came out here on the track to congratulate Jason (Jason Myers). I thought he had won the race. I didn’t know LW got around him. I like seeing these young drivers do well, and I love being the old man they are learning against.”
Strong Run Early For Michael Clifton Ends With Disappointment
Starting second on the field, Michael Clifton looked like the only driver that could hang with early leader Jason Myers. Clifton ran in the tire tracks of Myers, looking for the right moment to make his move. Before he had a chance, the #50 car slowed, forcing him to the pits and out of the race.
“We had a bolt back out of the rear and burned the rear end up,” said Clifton. “I was just trying to take it easy saving the tires for the end. Then the rear end locked up on it. It is just one of those things. I know it wasn’t loose. It might have gotten too tight, and when it got hot, it stripped the threads out of it; so that is pretty much what happened.”
While the strong run early gave Clifton confidence on short runs, he didn’t learn enough to feel satisfied on his overall race performance.
“I would have wished I would have run the whole race just to learn what the car’s characteristics are so I can make better adjustments. We have a pretty good idea on what the car does in a 40 lap run. But I would have liked to run the full 150 laps to see if the changes we made during the week helped it.
“We definitely had a good car. At 40 laps in the race we had one of the best cars out there. We will be back though. This isn’t my first rodeo. We have had some things turn around on us, and we have had to regroup. But we have always been strong out there.”