A trio of World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing rookies finished on the podium in the Pro Late Model feature to open the nine nights of racing at New Smyrna Speedway (FL), with a 46-year-old ‘rookie’ taking the checkered flag.
Jeremy Miller, an Illinois veteran who has won the Big 8 Late Model Series championship five times, is making his first appearance in the World Series. Miller has eyes on retirement, but he wanted to make a trip to Speedweeks before doing so.
Now, he’ll have at least one trophy to show for it.
Miller reiterated he is retiring after this trip, and winning hasn’t changed that.
“I’m retiring,” said Miller. “I’m all done after this. It was a lot of fun. It took a lot of effort to get here. The car’s been fast since we unloaded, hopefully we can finish the week off.”
Miller dominated the 35-lap Pro Late Model race, leading all 35 laps from the pole and building a sizable lead by the finish.
Behind Miller, a battle between two other World Series rookies raged on for second. In the end, K&N Pro Series West race-winner Hailie Deegan held off road racing convert Loris Hezemans for the spot.
Deegan felt she would have a car capable of competing for wins later in the week, learning how to adjust the car after Friday’s race.
“My car just went crazy,” Deegan said. “The tires just felt wore out. A little loose in the center. I think if we tighten it up a little bit. I expected the track to tighten up more than it did, I haven’t raced here before, so I don’t know. Everything is just learning from experience. Hopefully we’ll tighten it up a little bit and have a good car for the next race.”
Hezemans enjoyed the hard-fought battle with Deegan and looked forward to gaining more oval experience over the course of Speedweeks.
“It was a real good battle with Hailie, and a real fair battle too,” said Hezemans. “I’m just learning to race my race. It’s only my third race on an oval ever. I’m just learning and trying to enjoy it. Can’t wait for tomorrow.”
Augie Grill finished fourth, beating out Sammy Smith for the position. Smith rounded out the top five.
Race fans can find on-demand coverage of Friday's action by visiting Speed51.com's Trackside Now.
-Story by Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor - Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com