Abbottstown PA -- The Ray's Yamaha 'Polaris' Victory American Racing Drivers Club Midget Series kicked off the 2004 season in style at Lincoln Speedway on Saturday night. Prior to the night's dual features, Tracy Miller, Reading PA put the No. 3...
Abbottstown PA -- The Ray's Yamaha 'Polaris' Victory American Racing Drivers Club Midget Series kicked off the 2004 season in style at Lincoln Speedway on Saturday night.
Prior to the night's dual features, Tracy Miller, Reading PA put the No. 3 midget on display in the grandstands. Along with her racing sister, Michele, Tracy took time to sign autographs and meet the early arrivals at the track.
Race fans packed the grandstand for a full night of open wheel racing.
Sophomore Class shines in wingless event
Getting the night underway was the ARDC wingless feature, 20 laps topless.
When the green flag flew, it was Ray Bull, Bloomsburg PA, a four-time ARDC champion and multi-time Lincoln winner took the high side in turn two and came out with the race lead. The battle behind Bull kept growing more intense. Steve Craig of Levittown PA and Tracy Miller diced for position. Craig held the runner-up position for two laps when Miller slid past.
But Tracy Miller was not the only Miller on the move. Mike Miller, her father, found third place by lap 4. Fighting for positioning the back of the pack was Steve Lenig of Selinsgrove. Lenig started twelfth and found himself slowly passing one car at a time.
The second caution flew on lap 6, when the car of Don Trent, Honeybrook slowed on the backstretch.
Carey Becker, Reading PA, made his midget debut starting in the sixteenth starting spot. Becker held his line and would be credited with 11th position by lap 7 when the caution flew for debris in turn 2.
Upfront, Michele Miller found her rhythm and fourth place, snuggling in behind her dad. With Lenig hot on her heels and Hank Rogers directly behind, Lenig would pass Michele on lap 8 and challenge Tracy Miller for third.
By lap 10, Bull began to open a short lead on the field.
Mike Miller began experiencing some problem and relinquished second place to Tracy Miller when he pulled off on lap 11. The caution flew for debris on lap 12. Bunching up the field.
With a breeze blowing across the speedway, on the oncoming threat of foul weather, the mandatory in car radios that ARDC utilized kept the show moving.
Back to green flag racing, the competition was getting intense. As drivers settled in to position the show picked up the pace.
On lap 17, race fans could not chance looking away. Second Place was on the line as Tracy Miller and Steve Lenig pulled side by side. Lenig slid past Miller and set his sights on Bull. Michele Miller held fourth place with Hank Rogers holding down the fifth position. The final caution of the wingless event would fly when Rogers blew an oil-line in turn 3 distributing it through the turns.
With the field bunched up for a restart, Bull took the high line. Lenig offered the challenge to the inside of Tracy Miller and went to second place. With more intensity, Bull was unable to reopen his lead, and Lenig was pulling ever closer. Entering the final turn four on the white flag lap, the race was up for grabs. Lenig went high in the turn 4, allowing Bull to keep the lead and Michele Miller to jump past her sister and Lenig for second. Lenig quickly gained control and finished the event in third place. Tracy Miller found herself in fourth and the No. 99 of Scott Zipp, Bridgeport PA was fifth.
The late caution helped Bull. Bull knew that his car was running above temperature and a challenge mounting behind him. The late pass by Michele Miller was very calculated. 'I was watching him (Lenig), looking ahead, and I knew something was wrong,' said Miller who went from fourth to second in one lap.
Rookie Carey Becker would finish in ninth. For Becker, the open wheeled midget is a new experience. In comparison to his former motorized competition, Becker relates that the throttle control and braking are very similar to motorcycle racing. Becker formerly drover Motorcross, Enduros and Hair Scrambles. Although Becker has had only limited practice seat time in the midget, he can say that he prefers wingless midget racing.
Feature 1 Results: (1) Ray Bull, (2) Michele Miller, (3) Steve Lenig, (4) Tracy Miller, (5) Scott Zipp, (6) Steve Craig, (7) Fred Schell, (8) Frank Fiore, (9) Carey Becker*, (10) Hank Rogers, (11) Mike Miller, (12) Don Trent, (13) Mark Lawshe, (14) Steve Buckwalter, (15) Chris Rupp, (16) Dave Shirk*, (17) Billy Courtwright, (18) Ed Stimely Jr., (19) Marc Dailey, (20) Chris Morway.
Then, It was Miller Time:
The Ray's Yamaha 'Polaris' American Racing Drivers Club Midget Series was ready to run their winged event when rain started to fall on the backstretch. The cars took the track for a few hot laps to test tire grip. As the rain continued, the cars were returned to the pit area. After a 20 minute rain break, the weather cleared and fans were ready for the winged midget event. Veteran announcer Earl Krause had the fans cheering on the front stretch for the midget drivers.
Ed Stimely, McVeytown PA and Marc Dailey, Brownsburg IN led the field to the green flag. Stimely would lead the first two laps with Don Trent pulling out to second place. The man on the move was Mike Miller. Miller started in the fifth position and took the lead on lap 3. Trent would pull into the second spot and the front-runners began to open a small lead.
Back in the pack, drivers continued to shift positions. Ray Bull started twelfth and found himself in fifth by lap 4. In the midst of the leaders were Steve Craig, and Scott Zipp.
Zipp was battling hard with Steve Lenig and Michele Miller for position. Behind this trio was the cars of Dave Shirk, Mohnton PA and Frank Fiore of Dallastown, knocking it out.
The first caution of the event flew on lap 10, when Steve Lenig spun in turn 2. Car No. 75 would spill over bringing out the red. Sitting in the 75 in his ARDC debut was second generation driver Jeff Schell. Schell was uninjured and the drivers re-aligned for the second half of the winged feature.
Still upfront was the Mike Miller racing machine, followed closely by Don Trent. Bull would line up in the third position with Craig and Dailey rounding out the top 5.
Back under green, the chase was on. Miller held his line with Trent and Bull in tow.
The red flag was thrown on lap 13, when Frank Fiore's midget shot flames. The flames were quickly extinguished and Fiore escaped without serious injury.
As the fans grew even more excited, the field resumed where they had left off. Miller held the lead. Bull passed Trent for second and settled in for the event. On lap 16, Miller and Bull crossed the start/finish line mere inches apart. Further back, rookie Dave Shirk was mounting a great finish. Shirk found himself battling hard with Zipp and Stimely. Shirk would overcome Both drivers would overcome Stimely in the final three laps to finish sixth and seventh respectively.
The front runners were set. Miller led Bull and Trent to the checkers. Steve Craig and Marc Dailey round out the top 5.
Miller grabbed his second career midget win at Lincoln Speedway and was greeted by cheers from the brave fans who risked the elements to watch a tight midget competition.
'It's great to run like this,' said Miller, 'when you can stick it in and know the other driver's clean style. My car kept dying in the turns.'
Miller Racing ran 5 entries in the ARDC event. Mike was proud to welcome Jeff Kuhns, to his crew, and all the volunteers that came out to lend a hand. 'This is what racing is all about,' said Miller, 'Having a good time with friends and family.'
Driver Steve Buckwalter keeps all of Millers cars ready. Miller also gave credit to Mark Piazza for tuning the engine. 'This was a terrific first race (wingless) for the girls,' said Miller. 'The track was beautiful. It is a perfect midget track.'
'Racing with Mike takes me back to the micro days,' said Bull who was pleased with a second place finish in front of the hometown crowd.
Don Trent finished in the third position and was pleased. 'It was a good show from where I was sitting,' said Trent. 'We enjoy being here.
Feature 2 Results: (1) Mike Miller, (2) Ray Bull, (3) Don Trent, (4) Steve Craig, (5) Marc Dailey, (6) Scott Zipp, (7) Dave Shirk (8) Ed Stimely, (9) Michele Miller, (10) Steve Lenig, (11) Carey Becker, (12) Frank Fiore, (13) Jeff Schell, (14) Steve Buckwalter, (15) Tracy Miller