Miller gets Modified victory amid controversy
By John Dell / Journal Reporter
Junior Miller, the all-time wins leader in Bowman Gray Stadium history, added to his total last night but there was plenty of controversy along the way.
Miller took the lead on lap 83 after spinning out Burt Myers, who had dominated the early portion of the 100-lap Modified race. Miller then battled Tim Brown the rest of the way to get his 69th career victory, which matches his car number.
Myers, who is second in the points race behind Brown, and several other drivers questioned how Miller was allowed to pit during a caution flag on lap 85. But when he returned, Miller was able to regain his spot at the front of the field. Officials at Bowman Gray and Miller said that it was miscommunication and Miller was sent to the pits by mistake.
"What happened was, they told me I was going to the rear and I wasn't going to do that, so I drove in the pits and was going to pack up and leave," Miller said. "But then they said I was back in the front, so they changed their mind or whatever and I just went back out there to the front."
Miller, who was accosted by one rival crew member as track officials weighed his car afterward, had 12 police officers around him as he made his way back to his truck in his winning car.
"I had all this police protection because these young guys are trying to take advantage of this old man," Miller said. "But this old man came back and kicked some tail."
Brown had the fastest car in qualifying, but on a night with double points at stake a blind draw determining the order of the field, Brown started 11th. Myers won the pole on the blind draw and Miller was alongside him on the first lap.
Myers and Miller bumped each other on the first two laps to get things started, and from there the drama increased on each lap.
Brown probably did the best driving of all three after starting 11th but working his way next to Myers for most of the middle of the race. But on lap 82 Miller, thanks to the double-file restart rule, moved back into second place and wound up spinning out Myers just after turn three.
"It was just a good, hard race and I enjoy winning them like this," Miller said.
NASCAR is reviewing the results before it becomes official, but that didn't make Myers any happier afterward.
"It's a shame because me and Tim Brown could run first and second every week if they stopped this handicap-draw stuff," Myers said. "It's bad enough they do this handicap draw and me and Tim still get out front and Junior Miller gets up there and shows his tail like he does every single time.
"The only thing Junior Miller has got is the ability to run over people -- that's all he has left."
After the miscommunication by officials and Miller on lap 85, Miller did enough to hold off the hard-charging Brown.
Miller, 57, said he didn't think that there should be any controversy regarding his victory.
"My car got loose late, but we managed to hang on to it there at the end," Miller said. "It feels good and I like to run 'em hard and that's what we had to do tonight. We had to earn it the hard way."
Myers said that Bowman Gray officials need to do something about Miller's antics.
"Once you get out of the front five and get under that 10-lap window you just have to sit there and finish the race where you are at," Myers said of his seventh-place finish. "For anybody who was here tonight, Junior made a complete fool of himself and the only people that are standing up and cheering for him are just as big of fools as he is…. If Bowman Gray doesn't do something to stop Junior from running over everybody, there aren't going to be any race cars left out here."
In a crash-filled 20-lap Street Stock race, John McNeal took advantage of a three-car wreck on the final lap to get his second win of the year. On lap 19 Joseph Brown, who led most of the race, Doug Wall and Ethan Stoltz got tangled up just before turn three. McNeal, the series defending champion, started 14th but worked his way up and took advantage after the late crash.
David Sumner, who finished second, took over the points lead.
Also winning in the Sportsman Division, which had two 20-lap races, were pole-sitter Scott Hall and Jim Shoaf. It was Hall's first career win at Bowman Gray Stadium.
In the Stadium Stock Division, A.J. Sanders won the first 15-lap race and Chuck Wall won the second.