North Wilkesboro Speedway (NC) — April 10, 2011. Just weeks before one of the most talked about races in recent short track racing memory legendary racer and Crew Chief Butch Miller along with SS Green Light Racing team owners Bobby Dotter and Ken Smith agreed to put together an entry for the Pro All Stars Series 300-lap “The Race” at the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway. “The Race” offered one of the largest prizes ($75,000) seen in years and Miller wanted to be part of the big event.
In 2010, Butch had been paired with Colorado racer Chris Eggleston for five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events with the SS Green Light team and the veteran short track racer and mentor knew the 5’ 3”, 120-pound racer affectionately known, as “Shorty” was the right choice to fill the seat in the special event.
“When Butch called me I couldn’t wait to get to run with him again. We had a great chemistry last year in the truck series. I knew if we could qualify on time, we should have a good chance to be there at the end.”
Miller brought an underpowered car to the abrasive old track to take advantage of a weight break in the rules and to use solid tire management during the 300-lap race. He knew that Eggleston had run very competitively in the ASA Late Model Series at Berlin (MI) Raceway; another track that is hard on tires. He also knew the chemistry they had formed in 2010 could continue on the historic old speedway.
“Chris learned how to conserve his tires racing against Brian Campbell at Berlin Raceway,” Miller explained. “I knew how smart a driver he is and that he could take care of his equipment over a 300-lap race.”
After qualifying fifteenth out of 77 entries on Friday afternoon, Eggleston was the last car to make the race on time without having to earn a spot through the last chance races. The event was originally scheduled for Saturday evening, but inclement weather postponed the race until Sunday afternoon. Once the green finally fell, it took just fifty laps for the Colorado State University senior to maneuver the ASI Limited #08 into the top-five. However, Chris would drop back several positions on each restart, as his car took longer to get up to speed than the high horsepower cars and ended the first 100-lap segment in ninth place.
After the first eight-minute break for tires and fuel Chris would again make a push towards the point, reaching third at the halfway mark and taking the lead from Bubba Pollard just before the second competition caution at lap 200.
Pollard would grab the top-spot on the double-file restart and Chris would follow him for the next 75 laps, finally moving around the #18 on the outside in lapped traffic on lap 276 of the caution free third segment to take the lead for good and pulled away by several car lengths bringing the ASI Limited #08 to the checkers earning the $75,000 prize.
“Butch and I just communicate so well with each other; especially running those five truck races for him and SS Green Light Racing,” an excited Eggleston explained. “Butch prepared the car so well, how we unloaded out of the box is exactly how we ran the car in the race.”
“All night he was on the radio reminding me to conserve the tires and we saved just enough that we were able to catch the 18 in lapped traffic with less than 30 to go and go on to win this race.”
“We were kind of an underdog coming here with a crate motor, but Butch knew that tires were the key to be strong at the end. I’m so excited right now; I have to thank Bobby Dotter, Ken Smith and ASI Limited for giving me this opportunity.”
For Miller, it was the pre-race decisions that made the difference,“We had the right driver in the car. We were underpowered and that hurt us on the restarts, but Chris never spun the tires at all and that helped at the end. We were starting to get a little tight, but we didn’t get as tight as the other cars.” “All the guys on the SS Green Light team did a great job preparing the car and I’m real proud of all of them.”
Chris was a special guest on Dave Despain’s “Wind Tunnel” Sunday Night on Speed TV along with several other national media appearances following the event.