I recently caught up with Vinnie Miller on the NASCAR Western swing and we talked about the 2019 race season, his new home at B J McLeod Motorsports, and the expectations of this 2019 race season.
Miller is gregarious, fun loving, focused and determined young man, with his eye on making it in the NASCAR world of racing. With about six races left in the 2018 season, Miller made a leap of faith from JD Motorsports over to B. J. McLeod’s racing organization, BJ McLeod Motorsports.
Now that he and the team has had a few races under their belt, it was time to talk with Vinnie to see how that transition has gone, to see what expectations are there for 2019, and to where he thinks that the team will be week-in and week-out.
The following is the what took place inside Miller’s hauler.
Working On My Redneck: Vinnie now that you are an old wily veteran, you are now in your second year in the Xfinity Series, what is the biggest lesson that you learned last year?
Vinnie Miller: The biggest lesson that I learned last year was that I needed to get through all the laps of the race, to be there at the end of the race. That way I could add that to my knowledge book so that I would have that experience for when the 2019 race season started and I returned to those tracks this year. For instance, I was prepping for the Las Vegas race on my simulator and I remembered how hard you could drive into the corners and how easy it was to do that. Also learning to conserve your tires is very important. For instance, in a few races some of the cars that blew right past me early in the race backed right to me later on in the race run.
Working On My Redneck: Is it that obvious during the race when the tires wear out?
Vinnie Miller: Yes it very obvious at some race tracks.
WOMR: Is Las Vegas one of those tracks?
VM: No, at this track you can rally run hard for the whole race run.
WOMR; Since we are talking about tire wear, which race track has the worst tire wear?
VM: Atlanta is one of the worst tracks for tire wear. If you can save your tires at Atlanta, Auto Speedway, and Richmond it will help you later on in the race. In fact, the race tracks that have a lot older surface like Chicago will make tires come into play a lot more.
WOMR: It is interesting that you didn’t mention Darlington, which is notorious for eating up race tires.
VM: I didn’t mention Darlington because I only made it a few laps before my car quit running. But yes that track you can loose as much as two seconds in as little as 5-10 laps on the track.
WORM: Being a Michigan dude, do you have a race circled on your calendar for 2019, and why? I am not trying to lead you on by letting everyone know that you are, in fact from Michigan. I am just “facting” everyone!
VM: I have both Dover races in my sights this year. Dover is one of my favorite tracks, even though everyone has said that it is one of the hardest race tracks to drive. I just happen to really love Dover and have really good finishes both times that I have raced at that race track. It is one of the fastest race tracks that we go to, speed to size of the track.
WOMR: It is a good thing that I didn’t bet someone on your answer because I would have bet the farm that your answer would have been your home track, Michigan International Speedway!
VM: Michigan would be my second most favorite track! I really like Michigan, too. I have raced really well there in the ARCA race and I feel like we would have done a lot better if we didn’t have that aero package for the race in Michigan.
WOMR: When you race at Michigan do you have a lot of your friends and family show up at the race track?
VM: Well, yes there is a lot of family friends that show up for those two races!
WOMR: Now that you have few races under your belt as a team from the end of 2018 with BJMM, what are your realistic expectations with your team?
VM: I think that we should finish in the top 20-25 in points. I should finish more races than I did last year. I feel like this team is a little bit more behind me than where I was last year. I feel like they have my back and I have their back. Also the fact that my car owner, BJ McLeod, is driver and he helps me out a lot with that kind of stuff. So, overall I think that we will have better finishing positions at each race and a better end to our year.
WOMR: Do you lean of BJ for a lot of things, and if so how is it working for you?
VM: Yes. It is working very well, so far. We haven’t wrecked any cars, or had any major issues so far.
WOMR: Now that you have had the opportunity to see every race track that the Xfinity Series races at, how do you prepare yourself for the races each week?
VM: I have a racing app on my computer that has most of the places that we go to race. The most useful part of that program is that it teaches you your throttle lift points at those race tracks. That is what I use the program for, not necessarily to improve my racing skills.
WOMR: Which of the race tracks that the NXS races on do you most feel the sensation of speed?
VM: I would say that both Dover and Bristol is where I truly feel the speed sensation. Both of those tracks you feel so much speed because of the actual speed, but also the g-loading that you experience at both of those tracks. I don’t think that you truly get that speed sensation at Dover until someone wrecks in front of you and the reaction time/closure time makes it very difficult to slow down and miss the wreck. the closure rate is wicked quick at Dover! There is no place to go to miss the wreck and you have to be smart.
WOMR: Do you think that Bristol is the highest g-loading that you feel?
VM: Actually it might be at Las Vegas. This is a very fast race track, too. When you get into the corners you really feel the g forces and it pulls your face down! So it is a close toss up between Las Vegas and Bristol.
WOMR: Vinnie since you are a Michigan native, which one works for you, Red Wings, Pistons, Tigers, or Lions, or none of the above?
VM: Well, the reality is that they all suck now! But I would say Red Wings now, since they used to be good! The Red Wings have been good since I have been alive, except for the past two years.
WOMR: I would like to have some fun and do some word association, ok? When you think of A.J. Foyt what comes to your mind?
WOMR: Richard Petty?
VM: The King
WOMR: Jimmie Johnson
VM: Seven-time champ
WOMR: Indy 500
VM: Indy Car
VM: I like it. It is one of my favorite places to go. History!
WOMR: Vinnie Miller
VM: (without a second of hesitation) Jackass! (That triggered a large round of laughing in the hauler! I offered to edit that comment and he, along with his PR person, Sandra, authorized me to print that comment!)
WOMR: Last year at the November Phoenix you were pursuing a sunglass company for sponsorship and by the sunglasses that you have, it looks like it panned out for you. Vinnie, if a sponsor came to you and said that it was willing to fund the rest of your entire racing career, however long that may be, but there were two things that you must do, you must wear a red clown nose and also wear one of those funky multi- colored wigs at all times would you take the deal?
VM: I could go race anywhere and for anybody? Yep, I would do it!
With that question the interview was wrapped up. As you can see Vinnie Miller is a determined and driven young man. He is focused on trying to perfect his skills and become a highly competitive race car driver in this business of “what have you done for me lately” competition. I hope that you also got, through this interview, that Miller is a realist on where he is at this particular juncture of his career.
Additionally, Vinnie has an outstanding sense of humor and is not afraid of making fun of himself, as was brought out in the word association question of this interview.
I am looking forward to talking with Miller at Phoenix near the end of the season to see how his predictions and expectations for 2019 actually turned out.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!