Miller Back in Victory Lane
July 1, 2011 | 9:51 P.M. EST
L.W. Miller capped off a dominating run Friday night with a furious finish to claim the Firecracker 150 presented by Budweiser at Caraway Speedway.
The Dushore, Pa., native led the final 151 laps. But he had to withstand a challenge from points leader George Brunnhoelzl III on two green-white-checkered finish attempts before claiming his first NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified win since August 10, 2010.
Brunnhoelzl settled for second and Andy Seuss finished third. John Smith and Burt Myers were fourth and fifth, respectively.
It appeared that Miller just needed to turn laps as he was able to build leads by as much as eight car lengths before lapped traffic and, later, cautions, brought the field to him.
“We have had a great season and Tony (Templeton) and the guys give me an awesome race car to drive every week we just haven’t had the finishes to show for it,” Miller said. “Once again I am out there leading and got a good race car and here come the cautions.”
Jason Myers brought out the fifth caution flag of the race on Lap 145 after his car stalled in Turn 2 that set up the first green-white-checkered finish attempt putting Brunnhoelzl alongside Miller and erasing his three car length lead.
On the restart on Lap 151, the field got bunched up on the front stretch sending Frank Fleming, Myers and Thomas Stinson spinning.
“These double-file restarts are exciting for the fans, but I’ll tell you it’s challenging for the leader,” Miller added.
Miller got a good restart and was able to move ahead of Brunnhoelzl in Turn 2 and went on for the historic win.
Brunnhoelzl finished second to keep his streak of top-five finishes going with his finish at Caraway.
“We had a good car but were a little too free at the start so we just rode for a while,” Brunnhoelzl said. “I think we had as fast as car as L.W. there at the end but we just couldn’t get by him. He had a good call the entire night.”
For Seuss, his podium finish felt as almost as good as a win driving for new car owner Eddie Harvey.
“I had a great time tonight driving this car and I can’t thank Eddie and Howard Harvey enough for opportunity to drive their car,” Seuss said. “We started sixth and finished third our first time out (together) and we know we are going to get better and then we can challenge for wins.”
For Miller it was more than just his first win of the season, his 12th career win gave him sole possession of first place in the tour record book. Miller, the 2007 champion, had been tied atop the career wins list with 2008 champion Brian Loftin. Seven of Miller's wins have come at Caraway.
John Smith followed Seuss in fourth with Burt Myers fifth. Corey LaJoie returned for his first modified start since winning the season-opener in Atlanta in 2010 to finish sixth which gave him Sunoco Rookie of the Race honors.
Stinson rebounded from his late spin to come home seventh. Austin Pack, Fleming and Jonny Kievman completed the top 10. Stinson won the Coca-Cola Move of the Race Award advancing five spots during the race and Miller collected the Featherlite Most Improved Driver Award winning the race after finishing 18th in April at Caraway.
Brian Loftin won the Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day and led the first seven laps. However, he finished 13th after encountering engine issues.
Brunnhoelzl extended his points lead over Smith 80 points. Thomas Stinson is third, followed by Miller and Jason Myers.
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour will return to the track Saturday, Aug. 6 for the Strutmasters.com 199 at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C.