JUSTIN, Tex. (September 5, 2000) -- Surviving the intense heat in a race of attrition, Johnny Miller took his ...
JUSTIN, Tex. (September 5, 2000) -- Surviving the intense heat in a race of attrition, Johnny Miller took his #64 Automationdirect.com / UPS / HITACHI / Cutler-Hammer Corvette to a strong second place as the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series competed at Texas Motor Speedway on September 3rd. He finished a scant 0.521 seconds behind winner Leighton Reese in a race that averaged 90.479 mph. Miller, from Johnson City, Tenn., saved the best for last, turning his fastest race laps in the closing moments of the one-hour timed race around the 2.324-mile infield road course.
"We were just taking it easy at first, saving the car and the tires and trying to keep things from getting too hot," said Miller, who scored his second podium finish of the year and the tenth of his Trans-Am career. "The car was awesome, and I knew the race would come back to me."
Miller dropped back from his fifth-place starting spot to as far as ninth in the early going, content to let others charge ahead and use up their cars. . . a wise decision on a brutally hot day that saw trackside temperatures as high as 120 degrees and temperatures in the cockpit of Miller's car soar upwards of 180. Four drivers and several crew members required medical attention by race's end due to the heat.
"We had a midrace caution, and during that we picked up a rock or something in our right rear tire. The tire was slowly going down for the rest of the race. After that, we couldn't quite get the grip we needed to come out of the infield road course section and launch onto the banking. That kept us from taking full advantage of the awesome motor we had, but we were still pretty good."
On the restart, with ten laps remaining, Reese and Miller rocketed around fading race leader Mike Lewis and staged a thrilling, nip-and-tuck battle to the finish line.
"Leighton had a good car, too, and we just couldn't get by him cleanly. We got together a couple of times -- he was being very defensive -- but I didn't want to turn him around. I tried everything I could think of. It was good clean racing and it feels good to finish. We'll take the second."
Miller picked up enough points to jump up four spots in season points, and with four races remaining finds himself in ninth. He still has his eyes set on a top-five finish in year-end points. Next up for the Trans-Am is the Texaco/Havoline Houston Grand Prix on Saturday, September 30.