Junior Miller Is the 'King' at Greenville-Pickens by Amy Hayes
Veteran Shows How It Is Done in Southern Mod Tour Event
It was cold Saturday night at Greenville-Pickens Speedway (SC), but unlike many of the local tracks throughout the Carolinas and Georgia that had canceled their events due to record low temperatures; there was plenty of heated racing action with the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modifieds.
The field was a mix of rookies and veterans. And in the end it was experience that prevailed as Junior Miller sailed to victory for the first time in the 2007 season.
Junior Miller felt right at home in Greenville's victory lane. (51 Photos)
Matt Hirschmas was fast the first 130 laps of the race.
But once he did, on lap 129, there was no catching the King.
“I was biding my time for about 75 laps,” added Miller. “And then the boys said that I got a half lap down so we went and picked the pace up. We ran ‘em down at the right time there. I just had to bide my time at the beginning and then bide my time once I got out front and we were able to take the win.”
Many thought that Hirschman was going to take the win, after dominating the event for 125 of the 150 laps. He had a breakout year in 2006, but in this event instead of the first place he seemed to have been so close to, he had to settle for a 12th place finish after being turned around coming out of turn four with four laps to go.
“We had a good race going,” said Hirschman. “We got to the lead early, and we got to lead a lot of laps. I like the track. It was my first time here and we were doing well. We were good up to a certain point and then it was like you flipped a switch and we started going backwards. We lost the lead to Junior and then two other cars caught us and basically we were in the way.
“When you are holding people up you can expect to get spun out. Brian Pack was in second, and he got beneath me. There was a hole behind him and I tried to get into it, but I didn’t get in there quick enough, the next car was in it already. It wasn’t his fault, when you are holding people up you can expect that to happen.”
Tim Brown was the driver who slipped into that hole that Hirschman was trying to
“It tore up the car pretty good,” said Brown. “But we still were able to hold on for third. The wheel of the car is tore up and the spindle is bent. He (Hirschman) just whacked it down to the left. I guess he was trying to protect his spot, but I was up to his header. I wasn’t going to let up then, but I guess that is just racing.”
It might have been just racing, but Miller showed the drivers how racing was done down South. And he had a little advice to dish out as well.
“Hirschman got a little loose there near the end.,” added Miller. “He had to stop going into the corner so much, so I would nudge him and he would put on the brakes. I thought someone was going to be able to get by us running like that. I thought them Yankees knew how to hit the gas and go. Down South we drive with the gas not the brake pedal. “
“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.
But they don’t call him the King for nothing.
Close to the midpoint of the race, Miller began working his way toward the front. He easily disposed of second and third place, and set his sights on the number one spot, which was occupied by Hirschman.
By lap 78, Miller was up to Hirschman but it wasn’t going to be an easy spot for him to take. Hirschman was fast on the restarts, and it would take about 50 laps for Miller to get up and around him.