By Aaron Bearden, Contributing Writer
Journeyman driver Travis Miller made the most of his ARCA Racing debut for Ranier Racing with MDM, giving the organization its best finish on the year with a runner-up result.
“The first long run we had, I was fighting for the lead and I made the mistake of burning the front tires off of it,” Miller said. “If I could have done it any different it would’ve been riding around and waiting for a caution. For the 30-40 laps we had on that last green-flag run I was just coasting around the corners.
“Once I realized (Briscoe) was too far ahead, we were just riding, buying our time and waiting for a caution, but we never got it so we’re happy to come home in second.”
At 28 years old, Miller is a veteran of stock car racing. The Chesapeake native has tallied starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, K&N Pro Series East and West and the X-1R Pro Cup Series.
However, Friday’s race was the first for Miller on the ARCA tour, presenting challenges as the 28-year-old tried to adapt to the ILMOR motors and composite bodies.
“The power is a lot more than I thought,” Miller said. “You know, I about spun out in practice getting used to the pedal. The throttle response in these ILMOR engines is pretty crazy. Great power. The tires are pretty similar to the (X-1R Pro Cup) cars we ran back in the day. All in all, they (ARCA cars) ran pretty similar to the old Pro Cup cars, just a little more power.”
Miller also struggled with restarts, a fact he readily admitted after the race.
“I think it was the (No.) 77 car, when I was on the inside of him he kept trying to lag back. He was waiting for me to jump the start,” Miller said. “There was a couple times that he got me, so I kept trying to lag back further than him.
“The starts are fun. (Briscoe) did a great job all night. I won’t say he was the class of the field, but he earned what he got right there. Congratulations to him. He did a great job on restarts all night long.”
While he has years of experience, Miller had only one start entering Firday’s race, a seventh-place showing in the Memorial Day 100 at Dominion Raceway. Miller claimed that the lack of track time and overexcitement hurt his chances a victory.
“I got a little happy with the car as soon as it started running good,” Miller said. “Once I realized it was capable of running as fast as it was, I probably pushed it too hard and too myself out of contention for a while until we got four new tires. But all in all, I’m happy about my debut and how everybody worked.”
After a strong run in his first ARCA start, Miller intends to make a couple more starts later this season. How many starts the Virginian gets will depend on funding.
“We’re going to run at least one or two more ARCA races and we’ll run some truck stuff later in the year like Phoenix, Homestead, probably Talladega,” Miller said. “It’s what all we don’t sell as far as for the Ranier Racing with MDM. Whatever seats we don’t fill, I’ll probably drive.”