SOUTHEAST: Miller Brothers’ Photo Finish Highlights Shootout Opener

Jacob Seelman Featured, Southeast, US Legends/INEX 0 Comments

Zach Miller (left) celebrates his first Bojangles’ Summer Shootout win with brother Ryan on Monday. (Jacob Seelman photo)

CONCORD, N.C. — A pair of brothers grabbed the opening night of the 24th annual Bojangles’ Summer Shootout by the horns and ended up being part of one of the most-memorable finishes in series history Tuesday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Zach and Ryan Miller — making a long trip south from South Charleston, Ohio — not only finished one-two in the Semi-Pro class Monday night, they did so with a spectacular flourish, drag-racing to the line in a photo finish that was decided by .015 of a second at the start-finish line.

In the end it was Zach, 19, who got the edge thanks to a last-lap, last-corner pass that saw him storm up the inside of older brother Ryan coming to the twin checkers.

An emotional victory lane celebration saw hugs exchanged between both as they took in the magnitude of what their family team had just accomplished on the biggest stage in grassroots racing.

“That was a crazy race; there were so many ups and downs,” said Zach. “The car started coming to me late in the race, and that was after I’d been dumped in Turn 1 (on lap 11) and had fenders ripped off … I thought we were done, honestly. But that shows what this team is made of, we never give up.”

“I just had to pick off cars one at a time, be smooth and not lose my cool. It was mixed emotions at the end, because I didn’t want to punt Ryan and wreck both our cars, but I saw him get loose going into Turn 1 on the last lap … and I knew if I could get to him going down the backstretch it would be a great finish because no one else could get to us.”

Older brother Ryan, who started from the pole and led the first 24 laps, said that if he had to lose the race in that manner, he was glad it was to his younger sibling.

“I was looking in my mirror at two to go and was actually pretty happy to see him behind me,” Ryan admitted. “I was messing with him last week about a photo finish … because he’s been on the losing end of a few of them, including one by me, and I guess it came back to bite me!”

“I overdrove it a bit trying to get away from him, but this wouldn’t be possible without him, because he does so much of the work on them himself. There’s no better person to lose to in my book than Zach.”

For both brothers, Monday marked their career-best finishes at the Shootout, and Zach Miller adds his name to the long list of winners in the Semi-Pro class at the Shootout.

Since the start of full, official Shootout record-keeping began in 1998, Miller is the 106th different Semi-Pro driver to win in the class.

The feature was delayed by a 10-minute red flag for cleanup, after a large amount of oil was dropped onto the track by the No. 7 of Dustin McClure at lap 11.

Following a multi-car stackup on the attempted resumption, the final 14 laps ran flag-to-flag without incident.

Hudson Halder completed the podium in third, followed by Vincent Midas and Dustin Rumley.

Austin Green (left) celebrates his Pro division win with father David. (James Pike photo)

Both the headlining Pro divison and the Masters division features went 25 laps caution-free, with Austin Green giving the famed Ladyga Motorsports team a huge boost to start their summer after picking up his second-career Pro win in the summer series.

In a feature that took just seven minutes and 51 seconds to complete, Green powered underneath Dillon Faggart in Turn 4 to take the lead on lap seven, driving away to a 1.431-second victory by the race’s conclusion.

“Ladyga Motorsports gave me a great piece for today. We qualified outside pole, and in this class, everyone’s so close that you have to make your moves pretty quickly,” Green said. “I got behind Dillon, and I knew I didn’t want to move him, because if I did I’d get it back later on … so I just waited for an opportunity to pass him cleanly and we took off from there.”

Faggart, two-time defending champion Jordan Black, fast qualifier Carson Ferguson and Kaden Honeycutt completed the top five.

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