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In the Driver's Seat

Wes Miller

Lives in: Turlock, California
Car Number: 87

Wes Miller's first race car was a modified. It's likely that his last one will be, too.

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Wes Miller's first race car was a modified. It's likely that his last one will be, too.

“For the first maybe eight or nine years it was mostly our family deal,” Miller said of a racing career that began in a car he and his father Larry Miller built during his senior year in high school. “After that other people would call me to drive their cars. It's very expensive to race. I've just been very lucky with people calling me to drive their stuff.

“I can't complain; I cannot complain. There's so many people that would kill to have people call them to drive their race cars, so as far as I’m concerned I'm lucky to drive at all, to be honest.

“I'm not a kid anymore. There's a bunch of young kids out there nowadays and everybody's looking for kids, so … the phone's not going to ring every year for the rest of my life.”

Miller is 43 and 26 years into a career that started in a Modified on a dirt track because of circumstances and necessity. He said at the time there were few options for novice drivers and because his dad raced sportsman cars it was easier for them to use essentially the same specifications and build a Modified to compete in what was then a fledgling class.

In 1992, after just one year on dirt, they moved to asphalt and Miller became the first Modified champion at Stockton 99 Speedway. The Turlock, California, resident won another title at Stockton in 1995, was the Modified champion at Altamont Speedway in 2000 and ended a long drought with his third Stockton crown in 2014.

The married father of two also raced Late Models around northern California and participated in the SRL Southwest Tour as a teammate to the Belletto brothers and, for a time, as a driver for team owner Mike Garcia, whose team prepared the car Miller drove to that most recent Stockton title.

Miller made two starts in the Lucas Oil Modified Series for Garcia Racing in 2013, two more in 2014 and one last year, when he spent most of the season as part of driver Jason Patison's pit crew.

Things began to change late in the year, though. In early September Miller went to Meridian, Idaho, for the Allen Stroebel Memorial Race that honors the late father of Lucas Oil Modified driver Shelby Stroebel. Miller won the race in a car prepared by Mike Creevan, who was 2014 Lucas Oil Modified champion Dylan Cappello's crew chief with Garcia Racing.

After the season Creevan and his brother Marty started their own Creevan Racing team and signed Miller and Kyle Tellstrom as their drivers. Miller's older brother Wade is the team's tire specialist.

Tellstrom won the series’ most recent race, at Madera in early June, and is leading the point standings halfway through the 10-race championship season in the same car he campaigned on his own last year.

Miller had his best finish of the season in his 51FIFTY Energy Drink STR Chevrolet with a ninth at Madera and is 16th in the standings. He rightfully can cite extenuating circumstances, however, since he and the team are working with engine builder Dave Arce to try to develop electronic fuel injection for short-track racing and there have been some setbacks.

Miller's car had a carburetor in place of the fuel injection at Madera. But after an extremely encouraging two-day test recently at Havasu 95 Speedway he should have the fuel injection in place for the next race, at Salt Lake City, Utah, July 23.

“We think we found an issue that will help it run better on a purpose-built race motor,” Miller said. “Dave's been able to make it work with his Gen 3 stuff. We're trying to make it work with a conventional first-generation motor, which is a little different than what Dave's running with his stuff. We're going to make it work. We haven't given up on it.

“You know going in it's going to be a little rough sometimes, the first year with a new team. There have been levels of frustration here and there, but there's not really any egos on this team. Everybody gets along. That's kind of why we're together. We knew we could get through it and look ahead. We're really good at looking to the future and we try not to dwell on a bad run or an issue and continue to get better. Having a more experienced crew it's kind of easier to see that some times.

“Really, for me, there's no point in coming out and racing if I know I can't do well,” said Miller, who is a project manager for the Turlock Irrigation District. “It had to be the right opportunity. We look for more success. We're getting better and working some bugs out. Hopefully we'll have a better second half of the season.”

Wes Miller AT A GLANCE

Age: 43 (6 September 1972)
Lives in: Turlock, California
Marital status: Married; wife's name is Jennifer; they have two children
Occupation: Project manager for Turlock Irrigation District
Car number: 87
Type of chassis: STR
Engine: Chevrolet
Crew Chief: Marty Creevan
Sponsors: 51FIFTY Energy Drink; JOES Racing Products; Speed51.com; JMD Graphics; TCS Suspension; MurfDogg RC Cars; Arce Racing Engines; FIRA EFI System
Years in racing: 26
Divisions raced: Lucas Oil Modifieds, Grand American Modifieds, Late Models
Series point standings: T58 (2015); T43 (2014); T45 (2013)

Tracks

Havasu 95 SpeedwayHavasu 95 Speedway
Irwindale Event CenterIrwindale Event Center
Las Vegas Motor SpeedwayLas Vegas Motor Speedway
Madera SpeedwayMadera Speedway
Rocky Mountain RacewayRocky Mountain Raceway
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Lives in: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Car number: 54

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