Miller's confidence back up MONROE, Wash. (May 4, 1998) From the smiles on the faces of Butch Miller and the rest of the DANA team at Portland Speedway on April 25, you'd have thought they'd won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck...
Miller's confidence back up MONROE, Wash. (May 4, 1998)
From the smiles on the faces of Butch Miller and the rest of the DANA team at Portland Speedway on April 25, you'd have thought they'd won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Craftsman 200 presented by NAPA instead of posting an 11th-place finish.
Not that the team is satisfied with 11th, but after back-to-back disappointing runs at Homestead and Phoenix, Miller and the rest of the team were encouraged with the run at Portland.
With just a few more laps, the 11th-place finish at Portland could have been better, much better. Over the last twenty laps or so of the race, Miller was actually turning in faster lap times than winner Stacy Compton. A top-10 finish or better seemed just a few laps away.
The enthusiasm the team felt after the solid run at Portland carries on to this week's NAPACARD 200 at Evergreen Speedway. The two tracks are cut from the same mold, just good tight short tracks, known for close racing and more than their share of the classic short-track bumping and banging. Miller for one is high on his chances.
"The run at Portland was just what we needed," Miller said. "We needed to finish the race, and we needed to run good. We did both, and that lifted everyone's spirits. We weren't perfect, but we kept working on the truck, and finally got it right over the last 50 laps or so. I think we were one of, if not the fastest truck on the track over the final laps of the race.
"Maybe the guys further towards the front backed off a little, but either way, it was a big boost to everyone's confidence to finally get running the way we're capable of. We'll take what we learned at Portland and put it to good use in preparing for Monroe. I really wish we didn't have the week off, I'd just as soon be racing every weekend."
Miller said he and the team had struggled since the season opener, with disappointing performances at both Homestead and Phoenix sandwiched in between solid ones at Orlando and Portland.
"We got the season off to a good start at Orlando, then struggled at both Homestead and Phoenix," Miller said. "Portland kind of got us back on track, and we sure needed it. Now we've got to do it all over again at Monroe. We need to get into a rhythm and climb our way back into the points chase. The guys on this team are all giving 100%, and running like we did in Portland is the proof. We all know we're a better team than the results show so far this year. Now it's up to us to prove it."
"The run at Portland wasn't perfect, but it wasn't bad either," crew chief Doug Strother said. "We all came to Portland with two objectives to get our program back on the right track. First, we wanted to run all day and finish the race. Second, we wanted to be competitive. We did both, and it came at just the right time. Now we've got to keep moving in the direction we got ourselves headed at Portland.
"Monroe is another good old short track, and I know we can be good there. No, let me correct that, I know we will be good there. This team has too much talent, and Butch is too good a driver for us not to be running up front, and that's going to be our goal from this point forward. To run up front, lead laps, and win our share of races."
Source: NASCAR Online