LW Miller Is the Man at Caraway Again By Denise Dupont
2008 WSMT Season Starts With a Victory For 2007 Champ
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour welcomed in spring as they began their 2008 racing season at Caraway Speedway on Saturday, March 22nd.
There were 33 Modifieds hailing from both the north and south prepared to cut their tires into the Caraway groove for 150 laps of racing. Tim Brown ended up being the fastest on the track when he took 2008’s first pole award with a speed of 15.829 seconds.
After the redraw, it was Frank Fleming and L.W. Miller who sat on the front row to lead the field to the green. Fleming jumped to the lead followed by Miller.
At race end, LW Miller won the season opener as he held off Ted Christopher. Winning at Caraway is hardly a new experience for Miller.
“I love this place,” Miller said. “We are here to win a race that is what it is all about.”
Miller had his hands full with crafty veteran Christopher on his rear bumper for the last 22 laps of racing and cautions.
“I knew Teddy was good. I had to keep it on the bottom.” Miller said. “Last year we won
with a flat tire and a dominant car. This year we had all our tires but we weren’t so dominant.”
Miller waited through the final laps of the race expecting something to go bump behind him.
“I knew the shot was coming,” said Miller. “Ted Christopher started to get up to me and then he raced me clean. I appreciate that. All the guys up front raced me clean. We all know that when you are up front you are not going to let it go easy.”
Miller took over the lead on lap 64 when he got a jump on race leader Frank Fleming during a restart. Miller led the rest of the race.
L.W. Miller (#36) races with the #07 of Frank Fleming early on. (Jim Dupont Photos)
"They said you can pass on the inside here, but I am not a big fan of that.” Miller said as he reflected on the race. “They just left the bottom open for me on the restart. I thought that was pretty cool. I just came down there. We got together, but on the second restart I got by him. It was a little early to get into the lead at that point I was not ready to be out there. But I had to take that shot. Frank (Fleming) did real good. I knew he was going to be real hard to pass.”
Christopher who previously won the 2005 and 2006 Southern Modified Tour season openers at Caraway, had to settle this year for second best,. He was followed across the finish line by Brian Loftin, Tim Brown and Bobby Grigas III to round off the top five finishers.
“I didn’t need that caution at the end. The cautions really killed us,” Christopher said. “I was better on the long runs than he (Miller) was.”
Christopher had a chance to pass with only six laps to go as they came off of turn four, but Miller was able to maintain his lead to the end.
“My car was better running even though it did get looser and looser.” TC said. “You aren’t going to just drive by somebody in a couple of laps like that.”
Brian Loftin had a great run but in the end came across the finish line in third spot behind the leader.
“I think that we had a better race car tonight. At the end if we had a long run we would have had a run for the lead,” said Loftin. “We definitely had a second or third place race car. At lap 120 we were running real quick. There are not that many races down here that you are that fast at the end of the race.”
Towards the middle of the race it looked like pole winner Tim Brown had the car to beat, but he had to settle for a fourth-place finish.
“Yes, we thought that we did have the car to beat,” said Brown. “That is a brand new chassis there. We did not have it quite tight enough to run 150 laps. All I can say is it is a brand new car and we will make it better.”
After giving the fans quite a show at New Smyrna Speedweeks, Bobby Grigas, III’s team came to Caraway and continued their strong track presence.
“At the beginning of the season we did real good down at New Smyrna and here I finished fifth in my first Whelen race down south.” Bobby said as the team packed their car in the hauler. “Hopefully everything keeps going good.”
As the race got more intense and the laps clicked off cars, started to back up on the track that created conditions that led to James Civali getting wrecked.
“I had the feeling that something was going to happen late in the race because everyone was trying to do something.” Said James Civali as his car was being taken off the track on the tow truck’s hooks.
Civali’s car was part of the last caution of the night in turn two when Jay Foley, Rowan Pennick and his car tangled and spun.
Ted Christopher (#00) chased Miller late in the race.
“Everybody was looked pretty out of control from where I was on the track. I just knew something was going to happen. It was just a matter of time.”
The next race for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will be at Southern National Raceway Park in Kenly, North Carolina on Saturday, March 29th.