OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (Oct. 13, 2023) – He broke through to Victory Lane for the first time in August. Now, Gavin Miller is a two-time Feature winner with the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota.
The 16-year-old from Allentown, PA, wheeled the Eibach Racing, LynK/Toyota #97 for Keith Kunz Motorsports to I-44 Riverside Speedway Victory Lane in the first round of competition of the 19th annual Charlene Meents Memorial Friday night.
“I knew we had the speed all night – practice, Qualifying, Heat Race,” Miller said. “Just put a whole night together, really.”
The win vaulted him back into third-place in the Series points standings, where he now sits only 44 points out of the lead with one race left. Now a five-time winner between all three national Midget tours in 2023, Miller briefly reflected on his path to national Midget racing success since his debut in the division last year.
“I’m kind of at a loss for words; I feel like I’ve come so far in a short amount of time,” he said.
From inside Row 2 on the starting grid, Miller took advantage of a restart two laps in, throwing a slider on Karter Sarff to take second on Lap 3 and making beeline for polesitter Zach Daum leading the way.
“The yellow came out, and I just had to think, ‘Calm down, I know I’m just as good around that top,'” Miller said. “I knew I’d eventually get by him, and that’s what I did.”
Miller threw a slide-job first in Turns 3-4, then Daum returned fire in 1-2. But Miller was prepared, crossing Daum over with speed out of Turn 2 to take the lead heading into Turn 3.
From there, Miller was smooth sailing out front while the battle for a spot in the top five raged on behind him.
A caution flag at the halfway point paused the action and restacked the field, where seventh-starting Daison Pursley restarted from fourth in line. He, Daum and Thursday night winner Ryan Timms soon locked themselves into a lap-after-lap battle for second as the sliders went flying in every corner.
“I knew that [Timms] was going to try and slide Zach into Turn 1; I kinda just minded my time on the bottom,” Pursley said. “It wasn’t great down there, but as long as people got racing up there, you could just kinda just inch your way forward, like I’ve seen Zach Daum do.”
Pursley soon broke away from his opponents with a slide-job on Daum on Lap 18. Though Daum came back at him on the inside in Turns 3-4, Pursley kept the momentum up as he switched to the top side and skated around him to complete the lap and take second away for good.
With only Miller ahead of him now, Pursley pinned the throttle and made slight headway on the leader but was unable to catch him by the checkered. Instead, the native Oklahoman settled for runner-up and his second podium finish of the season with the Series.
“It was just a matter of how fast-paced Gavin got out there and set,” Miller said. “He was clicking off laps consistently; he got to the lead very quickly and was able to calm down and control the race.”
Further back in the field, Daum continued his efforts to stay inside the top five but encountered heavy resistance from Jade Avedisian, Cannon McIntosh and Chase McDermand with the laps winding down. A four-car battle ensued inside of five-to-go, with more sliders and lap-after-lap passes being made amongst each of them.
Avedisian was able to seal the fourth spot with a return slide-job on McIntosh in Turns 3-4 on Lap 26 and some good defense of the position through Turns 1-2. McDermand also got a piece of McIntosh before the checkered, laying down a slide-job of his own to take the fifth spot.
By the checkered, McIntosh had slipped back to sixth with Daum back in seventh.
Avedisian’s fourth-place run was enough to add an additional six points to her advantage in the standings before the final race of the season on Saturday. She’ll take a 17-point lead over McIntosh into the season finale in pursuit of her first national Midget series championship in her first year with Keith Kunz Motorsports.
The 2023 Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota season comes to a close on Saturday, Oct. 14, in the second night of the 19th annual Charlene Meents Memorial at I-44 Riverside Speedway. In conjunction with the POWRi National and West Midget Leagues, another $5,000 check will be on the line for the Feature winner, followed by a special championship presentation following the night’s events.
Toyota Racing Feature (30 Laps): 1. 97-Gavin Miller; 2. 19A-Daison Pursley; 3. 67-Ryan Timms; 4. 71-Jade Avedisian; 5. 40-Chase McDermand; 6. 08-Cannon McIntosh; 7. 7U-Zach Daum; 8. 19AZ-Hayden Reinbold; 9. 21K-Karter Sarff; 10. 25K-Taylor Reimer; 11. 13-Elijah Gile; 12. 14R-Jonathan Beason; 13. 28-Ace McCarthy; 14. 43-Gunnar Setser; 15. 26R-Corbin Rueschenberg; 16. 97K-Cooper Williams; 17. 5U-Peter Smith; 18. 98-Ryan Padgett; 19. 19K-Riley Kreisel; 20. 19U-Pierce Urbanosky; 21. 7M-Kyle Jones; 22. 19M-Ethan Mitchell