ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 21, 2000) - The BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series race at Road America, the seventh round in this year's 12-race championship, was a true turning point for Johnny Miller and the MILLERacing crew of the ...
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 21, 2000) - The BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series race at Road America, the seventh round in this year's 12-race championship, was a true turning point for Johnny Miller and the MILLERacing crew of the #64 Automationdirect.com / UPS / Hitachi / Cutler-Hammer Corvette. It was the first time that Miller clearly established himself as the driver to beat on this weekend, something that was obvious to all in the paddock.
In qualifying, Miller had an answer for all comers, including four-time 2000 pole sitter Paul Gentilozzi, and season points leader Brian Simo. Gentilozzi even squeaked into the top spot near the end of qualifying. Miller came back to settle the issue after having been fastest for most of the session, and posted a lap right at the checkered flag that won him the second pole of his career, and the second of this season. He posted a time of 2:10.763, 111.444 mph around the 4.0-mile Road America circuit. Though some may have felt Miller's previous pole (and track record) at Sebring was a fluke, or due to Simo and Gentilozzi having problems, Road America qualifying was a straight-up shoot out between the three, and Miller came out on top.
In the race, Miller won the drag race into Turn One, and led handily through the first six laps. In fact, his lead was so big so quickly, he decided to back the pace down and let the others catch up in order to make it seem a closer race and preserve the car. Unfortunately, shortly after a restart where he let Gentilozzi get around him, an oil pump belt shredded and ended Miller's race only seven laps into the 18-lap race. With Simo also running into problems, Gentilozzi went on to win unchallenged.
"This was tough," said a disappointed Miller. "We had the fastest car, and Gentilozzi knew it. We beat him into the first turn, and could pull away. We decided to slow down and wait for him rather than just take off and disappear. He was complaining that we were leaking oil, so we let him by. We were just cruising around waiting until it got close to the end. We figured we could get by him and set fastest race lap (which would have earned Miller a $17,500 bonus for earning the pole, setting fast lap and winning the race) whenever we wanted. To have a car that was that strong and not be able to capitalize on it is really tough. At least there is no doubt now that we are one of the teams strong enough to win in this series. We'll just put our heads down and work a little harder to make that happen."
The broadcast of the race can be seen on the Speedvision Network, beginning at 8:00 pm EDT on Saturday, August 26. The rebroadcast will be at noon EDT on Friday, September first.