MILLER STARTS CHAMPIONSHIP RUN IN DRAMATIC STYLE by Jeremy Troiano
Four Car Battle Late Leaves Butch On Top
On Saturday night, Miller took step number one to that goal, as he won the 2003 ASA season opener in Lakeland, FL. Miller took the lead for the first time with less than 20-laps to go on a move that had the crowd standing and many of his crew members in awe.
During a late caution flag, Kevin Cywinski beat rookie Reed Sorenson out of the pits to inherit the lead for the first time. After another caution flag, Sorenson decided it was time to move and ducked under Cywinski coming out of turn two. As the two drivers made brief contact, Miller jumped to the outside, followed closely by another rookie, Travis Kittleson, as four cars raced two-by-two for the lead for several laps.
Miller was able to use the high side and pass Cywinski, allowing him to cruise to the Jani King 200 win.
"The outside isn't really that good here," said Miller. "It is just not as fast as the inside. But they (Cywinski and Sorenson) touched and
Butch Miller came into 2003 with the goal of capturing his fourth ASA National Championship. Working with SS Racing and with new sponsor Timber Wolf, as well as veteran crew chief Deon Deneau, he had the tools to get the job done.
went low. I didn't want to go on the outside of them, but I thought I would give it a shot. I got by Reed and got along side Kevin. I never thought it would stick, but it did and we just pulled away from there."
It was an exciting move, one that was amazing to those with veteran ASA eyes, watching two past champions battle side-by-side with two hotshot rookies.
Butch Miller was all smiles as he climbed out of his machine.
"Kevin had a little bobble or something," said Sorenson of the incident. "He got sideways and I had to back off. All that and Butch just drove beside of both of us. He was just waiting for that. I knew I couldn't go high to go with Butch, because the 30 car (Kittleson) was right there. So I stayed tight with Kevin.
"If I hadn't hit him, I probably would have ended up second. That is alright and I'll take a third."
Cywinski followed Miller to the checkers, with Sorenson third. Rookies Scott Lagasse Jr. and Kittleson rounded out the top five.
"Getting out of pits first was key for us," said Cywinski. "I think if we didn't beat him out, Reed would have won the race.
"Reed had a real good car on the restart. It took my car a few laps to come in. Reed thought he had to get a jump on me on the restart if he had any chance. He bumped me a bit and got me out of the throttle. In doing that, I'll be darned if Butch didn't sneak up on the outside. Butch is a clean racer and raced me clean right there. I could have rubbed on Butch a little there, but I didn't want to take the chance on taking us out or even the top-three cars out.
Miller also used the new ASA pit rules to his advantage. Rules now state no more than five guys are allowed over the wall and one time and teams have to change tires and add fuel on separate
Miller and his team made several stops all night long, getting fuel first, before pitting again for right side tires and even again for left side tires later.
"The pit strategy might have been the key to the race," said Miller. "We had a really good car, but we had better tires than anyone out there. Then again, we made one more adjustment on the car and it brought it to life.
"It's just different to come in so many times for tires and fuel. I'll have to get used to it. It really makes you do a little more thinking. Whatever we did was 90 percent of why we won the race."
The pit strategy was something that the team had talked about before the race.
"We talked about it a little," said Deneau. "I can't say it played out like I wanted it to, but it still worked. We have a good group of guys. We knew we needed to get out fuel right away. We also knew if we had fresher left sides tires, we would be ahead of everyone. It was the same thing that worked at Lacrosse. I don't know if that strategy will work all year, but it did work this weekend."
Scott Carlson finished sixth, with Greg Edwards seventh. Ryan Hemphill, Robbie Pyle and Bill Plemons rounded out the top-10.