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Gavin Miller pilots the No. 97 for Keith Kunz Motorsports. (Grace Woelbing photo)

Miller Faces Game Of Risk Vs. Reward At The BC39

INDIANAPOLIS — Arriving at the Driven2SaveLives BC39 is like going back to square one for Gavin Miller, who is one of nearly 30 drivers who make up the rookie class for the fifth running of the USAC midget series event.

While several of his Keith Kunz Motorsports teammates have raced at The Dirt Track at Indianapolis Motor Speedway before — including Buddy Kofoid, who won the BC39 last year — the Pennsylvania native admitted he hasn’t received much advice.

“I’m kind of just going in, blank slate, nothing really to prove. I have expectations, but I really don’t know what to think yet because I haven’t raced it,” Miller said.

However, the 16-year-old has garnered an impressive amount of success this season despite having never been to most of the dirt tracks where he has competed. Miller is the only driver who has won a race on the USAC National Midget Championship tour, the POWRi National Midget League and the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series this season.

Many of those accomplishments, according to Miller, have come down to the split-second decisions he makes while on the track.

“Just learning to be smart about your decisions and not throwing away stupid stuff. Obviously, I’ve done that a couple races and you know, you’ve got to learn from that,” the Toyota development driver said.

His near-year of experience on the national midget stage has taught him more than he realizes, though Miller acknowledges it’s difficult to compete against drivers who have decades of seat time — such as Logan Seavey and Justin Grant.

“Being young definitely makes it harder, just not having the knowledge as the 30-year-olds you’re racing against. So obviously, they have the advantage on you,” Miller said. “I’ll eventually get to the point where I’m minimizing my mistakes.”

With five top-five finishes and 13 top 10s over the course of the USAC season, it’s arguable that Miller has already gotten a shrewd handle on his race craft.

His level-headed approach exudes maturity for a teenager.

“I think that just comes from my dad always being so hard on me if I’m making stupid mistakes. I’ve tried to fix that going up through the ranks,” Miller explained. “There’s no point in going out and junking the race car if you’re not contending in the lead, or if you’re just trying to be consistent.”

As Wednesday night’s Stoops Pursuit race was canceled due to rain, the first time the No. 97 KKM driver will hit the track will be for Friday’s preliminary night program. The rookie is ready to play the game of risk vs. reward for a chance at BC39 glory.

“Everyone makes stupid mistakes at some point, so no one’s perfect,” Miller said. “But if you’re going for the lead, you’ve got to take those risks. Sometimes, taking those risks don’t end up well, but sometimes they’re rewarding.”