Vinnie Miller Is Set To Make His First Kentucky ARCA Start

Vinny Miller
Vinnie Miller set to make his first start at Kentucky Speedway in the running of the General Tire Super Weekend: Crosley Brands 150 ARCA Racing Series (ARS) presented by Menards Friday night.

The 20-year-old made his first laps on the 1.5-mile Sparta, KY track Wednesday during the ARS open test.   He posted the fourth fastest time in the morning session while piloting the No. 41 Master Mfg., Inc MDM Motorsports Toyota Camry.

Miller returns to MDM Motorsports after making his NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) debut last weekend at Chicagoland (Ill.) Speedway scoring a solid 29th place finish.

The Michigan native has scored four top-10s in five ARS starts this season. He has also scored two top-10 finishes and one top-five finish in six NASCAR K&N Pro Series East starts.

Miller on Kentucky: “I am excited to get back in a MDM Motorsports car this weekend at Kentucky Speedway. I have really enjoyed the speedway races this year and think we have a great shot at getting a win this weekend. This will be my first start at Kentucky, and from the film that I’ve watched and the studying that I’ve done it looks like a very cool race track with lots of room to race. I really like the track.  I can go wide open and able to run off the bottom where most of the other teams were driving.  It is a super smooth track.  After running in the test I know that Friday’s race will be a great learning experience and a lot of fun.”

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Bubba Has A “One Off “And Parks It At Michigan!

Darrell Wallace, Jr.
For the final 11 laps of today’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway, Darrell ‘Bubba’ Wallace Jr. protected his leading position. He blocked high and low and middle, and when he briefly lost the lead, he quickly surged his No. 99 MDM Motorsports Chevrolet back ahead. Every move he made in today’s LTi Printing 200 to earn a trip to Victory Lane turned out to be the right one.

Actually getting to Victory Lane, that was another story.

After laying down a massive burnout to raucous applause from the MIS crowd, Wallace stopped his truck on the apron—he seemed unsure where to go. A NASCAR official pointed forward and to the right. Wallace followed those directions.

“It’s been so long since I’ve been in Victory Lane,” Wallace said. “I try to hold a positive mindset over it, and everybody in my family knows it eats at me every day.”

It was Wallace’s first race in a truck since the last race of the 2014 season; he won that race, too. It was his sixth win in a truck and first at Michigan.

After he parked his truck in Victory Lane, it appeared that every member of his team stuck their head in to say congratulations. His girlfriend, Amanda Carter, leaned in and kissed him. This was her first visit with him to a NASCAR Victory Lane. Still shaking a few minutes later, she said, “This is so incredible. It is so awesome.”

It certainly was that for Wallace, whose roller coaster career appeared stalled this season. Wallace, who opened 2017 as NASCAR’s only full-time African American driver, lost his NASCAR XFINITY Series ride with Roush Fenway Racing earlier this year due to a lack of sponsorship. He debuted in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for four races as a replacement for the injured Aric Almirola. But since then, nothing. His deal with MDM Motorsports was announced just this week.

Wallace entered the race confident his truck was fast. He struggled early on, including a penalty on lap 53 when his pit crew went over the wall too soon. But he worked his way toward the front. He appeared content to stay in third behind Austin Cindric and Christopher Bell as the laps wound down. He and spotter Freddie Kraft sketched out a plan—Wallace would wait for those two to get side-by-side so he could pass them both at once.

“You’re going probably 10 miles an hour faster than they are,” Kraft said. “As soon as they do that, you have the momentum.”

Wallace preferred to wait for the pass until there were only a handful of laps left. But when Cindric and Bell got side-by-side with 11 to go, Kraft keyed his radio and said, “Here’s your chance.”

“I closed my eyes, turned left, and heard clear,” said Wallace when discussing the heroic three-wide move to give truck owner Mike Millner his first series victory.

As cool as it was to see nobody in front of him, Wallace figured it wouldn’t last. He thought other drivers would do to him what he had just done to Cindric and Bell. But the drivers behind him spent most of the time racing each other instead of trying to pass him. And when they did devote their attention to getting by Wallace, he darted and dived and kept them behind.

Check out the unofficial results of the LTi Printing 200 at Michigan.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Fender To Fender With Vinnie Miller

Vinny Miller

(photo courtesy MDM Motorsports)

A few weeks ago I was in contact with one of the NASCAR PR reps that I worked with last year, Sandra Vorse.  I was trying to get some press release information for the Camping World Truck Series team that she works with, Wauters Motorsports.  In passing conversation she mentioned that there was an up and coming race car driver that she is representing.  The name of this young man is Vinnie Miller, who is making his debut this season in both the ARCA Series, as well as the K&N Pro Series East.

In keeping with one of my objectives of introducing our readers to some of the young men and women that they may be seeing on Sundays in a few years, here is my conversation with Vinnie Miller.

WorkingOnMyRedneck:  After doing a little research and homework on you I realize that you have amassed a rather long resume for a 19 year old young man.  Vinnie can you tell us just how, when and where  you got into racing?

Vinnie Miller:  When I was 4 years old my grandpa came to me and asked me if I wanted to race quarter midgets.  Being 4 years old I didn’t know anything about racing.  When I was 4 1/2 years old my grandpa got me a quarter midget and I started practicing because you could not legally race til you were 5 years old..  For that reason I entered my first race when I turned five years old.  I really didn’t have a knack for it until I got my first win and that was when I was seven years old.  When I got that first win, at the age of seven, that is when I knew that I wanted to be a professional race car driver and chase my dream.  And that is just what I have been doing for the last 14 or 15 years.

My grandpa was the main supporter, but my grandma, my mom and my dad were also part of the support group.  Today my grandma is the main support, since my grandpa has passed away a couple of years ago.  My dad and my grandpa were always the ones who worked on the race cars.  We competed in quarter midgets for nine years at the national level.  There was a time when we were one of the best teams in the nation.

When I turned 12 years old we moved up to stock car racing at my local track, Owosso Speedway.  I raced Street Stock for two years, Sportsman for two years, and then transitioned into Outlaw Late Models for two years.  Two years ago I moved down too North Carolina, racing super late models.  This year we made the jump  to ARCA and K&N Pro East racing with MDM Motorsports.

WOMR:  Has all your racing experience been pavement racing, or have you raced on dirt as well?

VM:  It has been all pavement racing.  I have never raced on dirt.

WOMR:  Would you like to race a Dirt Late Model or a Sprint Car?

VM:  I don’t know if I would like to race late models or sprint cars on dirt.  It would be cool.  But, because I don’t think that we have the budget for that any time soon, I wouldn’t mind getting into an outlaw kart on dirt for that experience.  Yeah since I have never been on dirt it would be fun.  If you wad up a dirt late model or a sprint car you are looking at about $15,000.00 worth of damage.  If you wad up an outlaw cart it might be a $1,000 to fix it!

WOMR:  Vinnie how did your ARCA and K&N East deals come about?

VM:  One of the guys that I raced against for most of my career, from age 12-17 years old, at Owosso Speedway, moved down to North Carolina a couple of years ago.  Once down there he got involved with Spier Entertainment.  He recruits drivers and places them with race teams.  This year he came to me and wanted to help me have a chance to progress to the next level of racing.  He matched us up with MDM Motorsports and now is my agent.

WOMR:  Have you already competed in a K&N East race in Florida?

VM:  Yes I  just raced a couple of weeks ago at New Smyrna Speedway and I really like that track.  My crew chief is Jamie Jones, who I think is a very smart man!  We finished in 13th place for the K&N race there.  But we were in the top 5 all weekend on the speed charts!  We got into some bad predicaments during the race.  If we hadn’t have done that we could have had a top 5-7 place finish.  I really like working with my team.  It is probably the best team that I have worked with and very comforting.

WOMR:  When is your first ARCA race?

VM:  My first ARCA race is the first of April at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.  I have been there before in a late model so it won’t be like I am racing there blind.

WOMR:  Moving up to the ARCA and K&N East racing is a big step up in competitiveness.  What are your expectations in both ARCA and K&N East this year?

VM:  Obviously I want to win every race.  That is what every race car driver wants to do!  MDM Motorsports has really top equipment and I think that I could be a top 5 to a winner in each of those races. As long as I do my job and give them good feedback we should do well.  I think that we have a very good shot every time we unload.  We have the car to go out and win a race.  I think that driving an ARCA or a K&N car is easier than driving a late model car.  So I think that I will do better this year than I have done in the past few years.

WOMR:  What is the longest race that you have competed in so far?

VM:  The longest race that I have been in was a 200 lap late model race.  I handled it pretty well.  I also had a cool box in the car and that is important because it keeps your brain cooled down.  By being cool and comfortable in the car it makes your job much easier.   The 150 lap K&N race was tougher because the car is about 600 lbs. heavier.  It takes a lot more stamina and endurance to race in the K&N East Series because of that.

WOMR:  Do you find that it those longer races are more mentally tiring?

VM:  Yes and no.  In a late model you do not have as many adjustments that you can make in the cockpit as you have in the other cars and that makes it more mentally tiring.  But in a K&N East car you brake blowers that can affect handling and brake bias adjustments, as well as other tools that affect handling.

WOMR:  Do you have a mentor or someone that you can lean on for advice, techniques, and knowledge, etc?

VM:  I just try to lean as much as I can.  I will take constructive criticism from just about anyone because I know that it will make me a better driver and further my career.  My main mentor is my crew chief.  He has been around a very long a time and he know what he is talking about.  It is also very nice to have Harrison Burton and his dad, Jeff burton, on the MDM Motorsports team as well.  I know that I can lean on them for answers to my questions, as well.

WOMR:  What are you interests away from the race track?

VM:  I am an avid outdoorsman.  I  love hunting and fishing and being in my boat.  However, there is not much hunting here in North Carolina,  But here in North Carolina I like to go hiking and playing golf.  In the summer I like getting out on the water wind surfing in my boat for the day.

WOMR:  What does your average work week look like these days?

VM:  I have a part-time job that I work at 2-3 days a week to help support my bills.  I am in the shop 2-3 days a week, hanging out with the guys and having lunch with them.  While I am there I try to learn as much as I can about the race cars.  I also try to hit the gym 3 days a week in the mornings to work out.  I normally take one day a week off to just hangout with my friends and go out on the boat.

WOMR:  I know that you are still a very young man, but if you weren’t racing cars what would yo be doing for a living?

VM:  I do have a lot of ideas of what I would be doing if I couldn’t race.  I would like to go back to Michigan and take over my family run machine shop and keep it in the family as long as I can.  Also welding really interests me.  I wouldn’t mind going back to school to learn that trade.

WOMR:  Vinnie, I know that you are just 19 years old.  But I like to end the interviews with this question because it seems to give an insight into the person.  What are yo most proud of?  It can be from your personal life or your racing life.

VM:  I come from a small town where a lot of the kids do drugs and smoke weed and I have never been into that.  So I didn’t have a lot of close friends.  So what I am most proud of is being a good kid, never doing any of that kind of stuff,  just following my dreams, and being able to be where I am at this point in my life.

As you can tell from this conversation with Vinnie Miller, he is a very intelligent, and driven young man.  He has put in time trying to hone his craft of driving race cars, 14 out of his 19 years.  There were two comments that struck me very positively. The first comment was that he will take constructive criticism from anyone with knowledge, because that would only make hime a better race car driver.  That, to me, shows maturity beyond his 19 years.

The second comment that I found to be an indication of his maturity was when I asked Vinnie what he was most proud of.  His answer both surprised and impressed me.  After a short pause for some soul searching, he said that he was most proud of not falling into the trap that many youngsters fall into, drugs and alcohol.  Instead, he has kept his eye on the ball so to speak, keeping focused and learning to be a good race car driver!

That, my friends, says volumes about Vinnie Miller’s drive, his desire, his upbringing, as well as his integrity!

Keep your eyes open for this young gun, you may be hearing more from him in the future.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!