After a promising start to the 2008 season devolved into a frustrating summer-long slump, the dirt Late Model talent from Gettysburg, Pa., has returned to form with a September surge. He’s won an extra-distance special for two straight weekends and will be looking to make it a hat track this weekend in the Pittsburgher 100 at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway.
Miller, 37, brought the good times back with victories on Sept. 6 in the ‘King of the Knob’ event at Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex in Markleysburg, Pa., and Sept. 13 in the Independent Racing Series (IRS) ‘Hub City 50’ at Hagerstown (Md.) Speedway.
“We had a real tough stretch, but everybody associated with the team kept working hard,” said Miller, who drives the familiar Buckler Motorsports Rocket No. 24. “And I’ll tell ‘ya – winning definitely makes everybody feel a whole lot better.”
It appeared that Miller was ready to enjoy his best season ever after he scored his first career World of Outlaws Late Model Series triumph on April 11 at Virginia Motor Speedway, but then Lady Luck began rearing her ugly head on his efforts. Aside from a July feature win at Hagerstown, his outings were mostly plagued by misfortune.
But after taking the Labor Day weekend off to regroup, Miller roared back with his first-ever win at the Roaring Knob oval. He won his heat race, drew the pole position for the 51-lap feature and led the headliner from flag-to-flag, dominating the action to pocket a cool $5,500 check.
The mild-mannered Miller was so relieved to make a return to Victory Lane that he had no qualms about having a king’s crown placed on his head for the post-race ceremonies at Roaring Knob.
“It didn’t matter to me,” said Miller. “I was so happy to finally run good and get a win, I would’ve taken any humiliation in Victory Lane. They could’ve dressed me up any way they wanted to.”
Miller authored a virtual replay of his Roaring Knob success the following Saturday night at Hagerstown Speedway. He set fast time in qualifying and won a heat race for the ‘Hub City’ event, then took advantage of an outside-pole starting spot to lead the 50-lap A-Main from green-to-checkered and pocket a $7,000 prize.
It was the fourth career Hub City victory for Miller, who has registered all his victories in the annual event while driving for Buckler Motorsports.
“There’s so many people who deserve the credit for these wins,” said Miller. “Charles and Genni Buckler (team owners) and the guys on the crew have been behind me the whole way. Our sponsors (Complete Flooring, USA Spares, Inc., Rocket Chassis, Bullock Race Engines, Miller Fabrication Inc., Genesis Racing Shocks and American Racer Tires) have stood behind us through the tough times.
We also switched to VP Racing Fuel (recently) and (VP’s) Jim Kelly helped us out so much.
“I’m just glad that we’ve finally been able to reward everybody on the team with some good times.”
Could Miller’s checkered-flag explosion mean that he’s on his way to closing the 2008 campaign with a rush of big-race victories like he famously did two years ago?
“I sure hope so,” said Miller. “We had such a good end to our year in 2006 and it would be great to duplicate that. We’re off to a good start, but we just have to keep working hard.”
Following his participation in this weekend’s $12,000-to-win ‘Pittsburgher 100,’ Miller’s fall schedule tentatively includes visits to McKean County Raceway in East Smethport, Pa. (ULMS Fall Classic on Sept. 26-27); the MACS ‘Big Kahuna’ at The Rock/Allegany County Speedway in Cumberland, Md. (Oct. 3-4); the FallFest at Challenger Raceway in Indiana, Pa. (Oct. 9-11); the Octoberfest 300 at Hagerstown Speedway (Oct. 25-26); and the Vault World of Outlaws World Finals at The Dirt Track @ Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. (Oct. 30-Nov. 1).