SMT: Southern - Miller in NASCAR spotlight

TWO-TIME CHAMPION JUNIOR MILLER HOPES TO GAIN GROUND SATURDAY AT SOUTHERN NATIONAL RACEWAY PARK DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 11, 2007) -- Two-time and defending NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion Junior Miller isn't used to being...


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 11, 2007) -- Two-time and defending NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour champion Junior Miller isn't used to being in the position of having to play catch-up as far as the title race is concerned.

Yet heading into Saturday night's Southern National 150 at Southern National Raceway Park in Kenly, N.C., 'The King of the Southern Modifieds' is in the position of being on the outside looking in as to whether he can win his third straight Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship. Junior Miller is currently fourth in the standings and 106 points behind current championship leader L.W. Miller (no relation) with only three races remaining.

Those 106 markers represent the largest deficit that the 56-year-old Danbury, N.C., native has ever faced in the three years that the Whelen Southern Modified Tour has been under NASCAR sanction.

"We've got behind quite a bit the last couple of races, so we're going to have to fight back and see if we can't win these last three races and make a run at those guys ahead of us," Junior Miller said. "We've still got a long way to go and anything can happen. You can't ever give up. I've got one of the best teams in the business, and I know they're going to fight back with me to see if we can't make it back to the front and win another championship."

L.W. Miller extended his championship lead over Burt Myers and Tim Brown, as well as Miller, following his victory last Saturday night at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C. Dating back to last year, L.W. Miller has won the last five races at Caraway, and following Saturday night's race at Southern National, the last two races on the 2007 Whelen Southern Modified Tour season are scheduled to conclude at Caraway.

L.W. Miller heads to Southern National with a 72-point lead over second-place driver Burt Myers and a 75-point advantage over third-place Tim Brown.

Junior Miller concedes that it's going to take some bad luck over the top-three drivers if he is to have any chance at making a comeback and regaining the top spot in the standings.

"There is going to be a certain amount of luck that we, as a team, need to fall our way if we can come back and get in contention," Junior Miller said. "All we can do at this point is try and win the last three races and have those three guys to stumble a little bit to let us back in. Other than that, it's really going to be out of our hands to be honest. We'll just see how it goes and if the Good Lord is willing, we can make it back to the lead.

"It's just one of those deals to where you can't quit or give up until it's all over with. We just have to fight until the end and that's really all we can do."

If it ends up that Junior Miller fails to win his third championship by just a few points, he won't have to look back too hard to see the race that really hurt his chances at this year's title. Just a few laps into the Sept. 3 race at Ace (N.C.) Speedway, the famed No. 69 Advance Auto Parts Dodge pulled into the pits and retired from the event due to engine problems.

"What happened to us at Ace was something we never expected to happen until it actually happened," Junior Miller said. "We had a spring go bad on the radiator cap and it started running hot and spitting out water. We had a good car until that happened. It's just one of those little problems that will really cost you a lot and there's really not a lot that we could have done about it. That race really put us into the position we're in."

Junior Miller admits that if he doesn't win this year's Whelen Southern Modified Tour championship, it's not such a bad thing in the overall scheme of things with a fresh face representing the Tour after winning the title the last two seasons.

"I know the fans get tired of seeing the same driver winning all the time," Junior Miller said. "As a driver, I don't ever get tired of winning like we have done the last couple of years. I still want to win this year's championship and I'm not about to give up until it's all over. Then again, I know the fans don't like to see one driver win all the time and I totally understand that. If I was a fan, I'd probably feel the same way. I know a lot of fans would like to see a new champion, but that doesn't mean that's how me or my team feel about it until the season is over."

-credit: nascar

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Drivers L.W. Miller , Junior Miller , Burt Myers