JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (June 9, 2000) â€” Johnny Miller, of Johnson City, Tenn., continued as the most consistently competitive driver in the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series when he started the last lap of the May 21st Trans-Am race at Mosport ...
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (June 9, 2000) — Johnny Miller, of Johnson City, Tenn., continued as the most consistently competitive driver in the BFGoodrich Tires Trans-Am Series when he started the last lap of the May 21st Trans-Am race at Mosport International Raceway in Ontario, Canada, with his #64 Automationdirect.com/UPS/Hitachi Construction Equipment Corvette once again in the top three. That's a feat no other driver has achieved this year, and two of those three times Miller has had the lead. Another last-lap melee ensued, though, and when the dust settled Brian Simo was first, with Jeff Altenburg and Tomy Drissi slipping through next. Miller crossed the line fourth, but was scored ninth.
"This is frustrating," commented Miller, 34, "but I guess it wouldn't seem so bad if we weren't right there in contention for the win week in and week out. I know it's making us all that much more focused on success."
Miller, who has been knocking on the door all year, can take some consolation in looking at the record of now dominant Simo. Two years ago, as Simo transitioned from "promising" to "race-winning" mode, he was involved in more crashes than at any time in his career. Now that he's broken through, he's picked up 11 wins in his last 19 starts. "Sometimes, the harder you try, the harder you fail," reflects Miller. "This year, we've overcome some big obstacles, both as a team and as a driver. That's just seasoning us to become Champions."
Miller's Mosport disappointment followed an Appeals Court decision the previous week that changed the finishing order at Long Beach due to a procedural issue and took away Miller's first career win. Drissi is now listed as the official winner there, for reasons that had nothing to do with Miller's performance during the published race length.
At Mosport, Miller spent the entire race dogging Randy Ruhlman for third place. When race leader Paul Gentilozzi spun himself out of contention with ten laps remaining, Simo grabbed the lead and never looked back. Behind him, the two-way battle for third became a four-way battle for second, as Drissi and Altenburg joined Miller and Ruhlman.
As the tightly bunched foursome entered the final turns on the final lap, they caught lapped traffic. Ruhlman was slowed, and came into the final corner off the line. Miller, with Drissi and Altenburg breathing down his neck, dove to the inside just as Ruhlman tried too late to come back and defend the line, making contact with Miller. Ruhlman spun as the others scrambled to the finish line, then recovered to cross the line in ninth.
"The new Chief Steward recognized that the contact was unintentional, and even acknowledged that I was hard on the brakes trying to avoid it," said Miller. "But the rules say that if contact results in the lead car spinning, regardless of who is to blame, the second car is placed behind the spinning car. That moved me from fourth to ninth. I'm not happy, but I applaud the Chief Steward for clearly defining the rules and sticking with them."
Next up is the Johnson Controls 100 at the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix on Detroit's Belle Isle, Saturday, June 17.