SMT: Winston-Salem round six preview

JUNIOR MILLER AND BURT MYERS TO EXTEND RIVARLY WHEN NASCAR WHELEN SOUTHERN MODIFIED TOUR RETURNS TO BOWMAN GRAY STADIUM AUG. 5 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 28, 2006) -- The friendly and on-going rivalry that exists between the Miller and Myers'...


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 28, 2006) -- The friendly and on-going rivalry that exists between the Miller and Myers' racing families at Bowman Gray Stadium is the stuff of legend. It's also a rivalry at the famed Winston-Salem, N.C. short track in the Modified division that dates back through two decades and two generations.

The Miller-Myers rivalry is alive and well at Bowman Gray Stadium -- the oldest operating facility under NASCAR sanction --and has also spilled over and been a major draw in the second season of the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour.

In one corner you have 55-year-old soft-spoken Modified legend and defending Tour champion Junior Miller and in the opposing corner stands outspoken 30-year-old Burt Myers. The two hard-nosed competitors are slated to do battle Saturday night, Aug. 5 in Bowman Gray's most prestigious race of the season in the Advance Auto Parts 199. The race also marks the Whelen Southern Modified Tour's return to action after a five-week break.

The rivalry between the two is very similar to the one that existed about 10 years ago between NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champions Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon during driver introductions. In other words, you didn't have to be able to hear the track announcer actually call their names but could tell by the fan's reaction -- boos or cheers -- that it was either Earnhardt or Gordon being introduced.

That's precisely the same way it is on a weekly basis for Miller and Myers -- whether racing at Bowman Gray's weekly Saturday Modified races or at a different track with the Whelen Southern Modified Tour.

"The hard racing like the fans at Bowman Gray are used to seeing has definitely spilled over into the Whelen Southern Modified Tour and so has the Myers-Miller rivalry," Myers says. "I think it's a rivalry that's going to be remembered for quite a while just because it has lasted so long."

Myers insists he's never been too concerned about what kind of reaction he gets -- be it positive or negative -- when his name is called out over the loudspeaker before or after a race.

"I won a race earlier in the year after just getting taken out in the first race one Saturday night," Myers says. "I was standing in Victory Lane and somebody asked me if I ever remembered getting so many applause before in my life and I told him I really didn't care. Another guy was standing there and he asked how many Most Popular Driver awards Dale Earnhardt won (none prior to him being given the award posthumously in 2001).

"My grandpa, Billy, who used to race Modifieds at Bowman Gray, said more than 50 years ago that whether the fans love you or hate you -- they come to see you race. He said that as long as the fans were making some kind of noise when you were being introduced then you must be doing something right."

Miller admits that the difference of opinions in driver introductions before a race is something that he has come to enjoy.

"They either love Junior Miller or hate me and it seems to be the same way for Burt Myers," Miller jokes. "I think it just goes to show that we're two drivers who race each other hard every week and knock each other around a little bit. It seems like half the fans want to see me spin Burt out and the other half wants to see him spin me out. I love it because to me it seems like the fans want to see our rivalry remain stirred up.

"The fans want us to keep racing like we do. Making it exciting for the fans is what it's all about. Burt and I both race hard and anytime you're racing against the same guy almost every week I think it's only natural that a rivalry is going to develop between the drivers as well as the fans. It's just one of those deals that have come from two guys who race hard and don't want to give each other an inch."

The Myers-Miller rivalry is one that has been going strong for more than 20 years dating back to when Miller was getting started in the Modifieds at Bowman Gray competing against Burt Myers' father, Gary.

"Yeah, I think the Miller-Myers rivalry started quite a few years ago back when I was racing against Burt's dad," Miller says. "We always raced each other hard and never wanted to give each other an inch. It's all kind of developed from back in the old days. I think having a good rivalry in racing is what it's all about and makes it so much more entertaining for the fans."

Myers agrees with the assessment of Miller as far as the friendly rivalry is concerned.

"It started back when my dad and Junior came along and started racing together and it's kind of continued since me and my brother Jason have came along," says Myers, who also competes against his brother, Jason, on the Whelen Southern Modified Tour on a regular basis as well as in Bowman Gray's Modified division. "As a kid, I think watching your dad race against Junior Miller or anybody was special because you wanted to do whatever it took to see your dad win. .... Then when I started driving in the Modifieds at Bowman Gray, I was lucky enough to have the chance to be able to race against a guy like Junior Miller. Everything that I'd watched and learned as a child watching my Dad race was something I was able to apply once I got started.

"Our family has always been fortunate to be able to race with a great guy like Junior Miller and I think he feels the same way. I think Junior's driving style and mine are a little bit different and through the years we've butted heads a little bit. I think the kind of racing that Junior and I have put on through the years at Bowman Gray has attracted a lot of fans to the Stadium. Me and Junior race hard against each other, but it seems like we're almost always racing for the win."

Myers remembers the night when, as a rookie, he felt hard contact from Miller to the rear of his car which has seemingly reignited the Myers-Miller rivalry one fateful night at Bowman Gray.

"I can probably remember better than Junior does about the first time we ever butted heads," Myers says. "It was my first full season and I was running like 12th and Junior had some problems and was coming back through the field behind me. When he got to me he tried to knock me out of the way. I saved the car and then he hit me again and spun me down in the grass.

"After the race I just walked up and told Junior, 'Hey, I'm not trying to be Billy Bad Boy or be tough. I just don't like to be stepped on like that.' I want people to race me the same way they want me to race them. That was the first time my driving style and Junior's didn't exactly see eye-to-eye," Myers adds with a laugh and a smile. "As long as we race each other hard and respectable, we're going to keep on beating and banging. A lot of people don't understand there's a respectable way to do that and not just wreck each other all the time. Junior Miller knows that and I love racing against him because he knows how to race me. It's a feeling of mutual respect I hope."

Once again, that mutual respect will be tested when the green flag is thrown next Saturday night for the Advance Auto Parts 199 -- the race that is sponsored by Miller's title car sponsor while he had to watch Myers take the victory last season at Bowman Gray.

"Winning the pole and winning the Whelen Southern Modified Tour race at Bowman Gray last year is probably the biggest win of my career," Myers says. "It meant so much to me mentally and physically -- and even the rivalry between me and Junior -- to win the first Whelen Southern Modified race at Bowman Gray. That is one night I will never forget. It was just unbelievable to me and my career.

"There were a lot of important people with NASCAR that were on hand at the race because they really want this Whelen Southern Modified to continue to grow and for them to be there really proved to us drivers that NASCAR was serious about taking this tour and make it even bigger and better. NASCAR taking on title sponsorship of the Whelen Southern Modified Tour has been a huge help to this series and it's really made my racing career a lot of fun."

Miller slips in one last bit of psychological warfare heading into the Advance Auto Parts 199 next Saturday night. Qualifying is set for Friday night, Aug 4, along with other Bowman Gray usual feature divisions set for a rare Friday night of racing action.

"I think we're going to be one of the cars to beat, no doubt about it," Miller says. "Then again Burt is going to be good once again and he's always got one of the cars to beat when you roll into Bowman Gray. There are a lot of other drivers besides just me and Burt that are going to be good and have a chance to win this race. It's going to be a good race, that's for sure. We've got a good car that's going to sit on the pole and win the race."


What: Advance Auto Parts 199 (Race No. 6 of 13 in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour)

Where: Bowman Gray Stadium, Winston-Salem, N.C.

When: 8:45 p.m. EST (approx.), Saturday, August 5, 2006

Track layout: ¼-mile paved oval
Race length: 199 laps/49.75 miles

Posted awards: $22,912

2005 winner: Burt Myers
2005 polesitter: Burt Myers

Top 10 in points: 1. Junior Miller -- 855; 2. Tim Brown -- 757; 3. Burt Myers -- 720; 4. Brian Pack -- 671; 5. Bobby Hutchens Jr. -- 663; 6. Gene Pack -- 652; 7. Jason Myers -- 649; 8. Brian King -- 634; 9. L.W. Miller -- 621; Jay Hedgecock Jr. -- 615.

Pre-race schedule (all times local): Fri. Aug. 4 -- 12:00 noon Haulers enter; 1:00 p.m. Registration and Inspection begins; 3:30 p.m. Drawing to determine order of qualifying; 4:00 p.m.; 5:00 p.m. Mandatory driver's meeting; 6:00 p.m. Alternating practice; 9:00 p.m. Time trials. Saturday, Aug. 5 -- 4:00 p.m. Garage opens and inspections begin; 5:00 p.m. Mandatory driver and crew chief's meeting; 5:30 p.m.; 8:45 p.m. Advance Auto Parts 199.


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Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , L.W. Miller , Junior Miller , Jason Myers , Burt Myers