HOUSTON, Tex. (September 18, 2000) -- Johnny Miller, 34, qualified on the front row for last year's Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston in the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series race, quite an accomplishment for the 1996 Trans-Am Rookie of...
HOUSTON, Tex. (September 18, 2000) -- Johnny Miller, 34, qualified on the front row for last year's Texaco/Havoline Grand Prix of Houston in the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series race, quite an accomplishment for the 1996 Trans-Am Rookie of the Year; it was only his second race with the #64 Automationdirect.com / UPS / HITACHI / Cutler-Hammer Corvette. Miller purchased the car from two-time Series champ Paul Gentilozzi two weeks before, and was still adjusting to the car. He was also adjusting to current engineer, Tom Hoke, whom he'd picked up midseason last year.
So what does that have to do with this year's race? They're back -- Miller, crew, car, and engineer. For only the second time this year, Miller is racing at a track for which he has a database of information and settings to draw on that applies directly to the car he's driving. Only at this year's curtain raiser at Sebring has that happened before. Miller put the car on the pole with a new track record, then proceeded to lead nearly half the race until a last-lap accident dropped him to 16th. And last year in Houston, they were already quicker than everyone but Gentilozzi. "We like street circuits a lot," says Miller, voted Most Improved Driver of 1998. "Half of our career runner-up positions, and half of our career podium finishes have come at street circuits. We know we were fast here last year, so we've been waiting all year to get back to this track."
Sporting another of the wild graphics schemes for which he's famous, Miller comes to the Lone Star State with long-time major sponsor, Automationdirect.com, the industrial control products online superstore. In addition, package delivery service giant UPS has come aboard as an associate sponsor, making a major contribution to the cause and seeing to it that Miller gets an 'on-time' delivery to the races. Joining those two are Hitachi and Cutler-Hammer.
"Along with our starship graphics, Tim Hohmann at Automationdirect.com has pulled together all these great companies to back us as a "Federation," commen ts Miller. "We've banded together, and hope our combined efforts will yield a result greater than the sum of the parts. It's going to be a tall order to give them all a return they can be happy with, but we're ready. I've put a lot of effort into assembling my crew, and we've got team of people that I am very proud of as well. We had the legs on everyone last race, so we're ready to bravely go where no Trans-Am team has ever gone!"
The scheduled 65-lap, 99.255-mile sprint around the 1.527-mile, 10-Turn street circuit is slated to start at 4:30 pm (CDT) on Saturday, September 30. Tape delayed coverage on the Speedvision Network is set to begin at 8:00pm (EDT) on Friday, October 13, and again at 12:00am (EDT) on Saturday, October 14th.