LATE RACE CRASH DERAILS MILLER, PETE KNIGHT RACING CHEVY IN MANSFIELD HOOTERS PRO CUP EVENT Mooresville, NC (June 15, 2008) -- The results won't reflect it, but Saturday's Greased Lightning 250 at Mansfield Motorsports Park may have been the...
LATE RACE CRASH DERAILS MILLER, PETE KNIGHT RACING CHEVY IN MANSFIELD HOOTERS PRO CUP EVENT
Mooresville, NC (June 15, 2008) -- The results won't reflect it, but Saturday's Greased Lightning 250 at Mansfield Motorsports Park may have been the event that jump-started a solid season for Travis Miller and his No. 81n Pete Knight Racing Chevy.
"It was really motivating to have the car run as well as it did and be able to drive it to the front," said Miller, who finished 19th after crashing out late while running in the Top-10. "We had a solid run going and lost it through no fault of our own. You hate it to end that way, but we left knowing while we might not have had the car to win the race, we can run up front. We definitely had a Top-5 or Top-6 car. We easily had that."
The 20-year-old Miller had his work cut out for him starting last (32nd) in the 250-lap- event on the tight Mansfield half-mile oval.
"We were pretty good in practice and qualified well," said Miller, who timed in 20th with a lap of 17.143 seconds. "We had to start dead last because we changed the transmission after qualifying, but it didn't take long to get to the front."
Miller's charge into the Top-10 started early picking up several spots in the first 15 circuits. When the first caution flag of the event flew, Miller's Pete Knight Racing team took over getting him off of pit road with lightning quickness.
"We had good pit strategy," said Miller. "We pitted with the leaders on the first caution and we probably picked up eight or nine spots there on pit road. We took tires right away and after that, I was able drive by a lot of people on the outside. There was absolutely no grip on the bottom of the track, so if you were going to pass, it had to be on the outside. We drove from 15th to fifth pretty easily."
Miller roared into the Top-10 by Lap 50 and was seventh at the 70th circuit. By Lap 90, the Chesapeake, VA native had broken into the Top-5 and thanks to the flawless handling of his No. 81n Chevrolet Monte Carlo, stayed there for the next 80 laps.
"Chris Greenhill had the perfect chassis set up in my car," said Miller. "He had the car rolling the center of the corner great. Chris worked really hard getting the car right and I tried a bunch of new stuff that I hadn't tried before. The result was the car was great and we were able to drive right to the front."
Comfortably running in sixth place with just under 75 laps to go, Miller saw his dreams of a top finish crushed after contact with the Turn 4 outside retaining wall.
"Someone just drove into Turn 3 too deep and clipped me in the left-rear," Miller stated. "It got me loose and I saved it, but the contact knocked me up so high on the track that once I got up into the marbles -- the dirt, gravel and loose rubber -- the car just slid into the wall. There was no controlling it once that happened and we got into the fence."
While disappointed with the 19th-pace result, Miller was still upbeat about the effort.
"We showed that we can run up front and compete," said Miller. "We've got really good equipment and the guys who know how to make it go fast. I've finally gotten enough seat time after being off so long that I feel confident in what I am doing and know that I can run up front. I'm really looking forward to the next race at Salem (IN) Speedway. There's no reason why we shouldn't be able to go there and run in the Top-5, especially after the way we competed at Mansfield."
Miller and his No. 81n Pete Knight Racing Chevy will next take the green flag in the Greased Lightning 250 at Salem Speedway on Saturday, June 28. The green flag is set for 7:30 p.m.