American Joel Miller will make his second career Firestone Indy Lights Series start this weekend driving for Bryan Herta Autosport in the Carneros 100 at Infineon Raceway. Miller will assume the seat of the No. 28 entry held by Stefan Wilson in nine races to date this season while Wilson and BHA work to secure the funding to return Wilson to the cockpit for the remaining races on the schedule.
“We are excited to welcome Joel to the team this weekend,” said team co-owner Bryan Herta. “Joel has worked hard and creatively to put together the budget to compete at Sonoma and we want to provide him with the best opportunity to showcase his talents as he focuses on a full Indy Lights campaign next year.
“At the same time, we are working hard to raise the necessary budget to put Stefan back in the car for as many of the remaining races as possible. He will be at Sonoma to support the team and also fulfill his pace car team obligations. Stefan has done a great job this year on the road and street circuits and also in his oval debut. Our goal is to help him achieve his first Indy Lights win and we want to get him back in the car as soon as possible.”
Miller, 22, of Hesperia, Calif., made his Indy Lights debut at Long Beach earlier this season, finishing 11th for Andersen Racing after losing second gear in the race. A mechanical engineering student at the University of California, Riverside, and sales representative for Sparco USA, Miller began his racing career in the karting ranks. Among his credits are the 2006 Stars of Karting national title in the ICA division, the 2007 Skip Barber National Championship and runner-up in the 2008 Star Mazda Championship in his rookie season. He was also a Team USA Scholarship recipient contesting the 2007 Formula Palmer Audi Autumn Trophy Series in England.
Miller helped to raise the funding for this Sunday's 40-lap race through the Joel Miller Indy Racing Experience, an event held this past Sunday in Santa Cruz which featured a celebrity poker tournament, raffle, exotic car display, live music and a pro skate demonstration. Proceeds also benefited the Wings for Life charity. Organized by Monarchy Media Management, guests included Dancing with the Stars
Karina Smirnoff, Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and former New York Giants defensive back Reggie Stephens and motocross champion Josh Van Den Heuvel.
“I have known Bryan since I was seven years old in go-karts and I am happy to come full circle and finally be able to drive a car for him. I have run at Sonoma in various formulas and I am very familiar with the track. This is a local race for me and I am really looking forward to the weekend because I know the place and I also know that I will have a good car under me. My goal is a full season in Indy Lights next year. I did Long Beach for the experience and now this weekend at Sonoma. Everything we are doing is for next year. Hopefully, we can keep the sponsors we have on the car for this coming weekend involved for a full-time effort and, hopefully, with Bryan's team.”
Miller's No. 28 entry will be sponsored by Doug Mockett & Company, Lamborghini Travels, Blanco Basura Clothing, Valli Construction and Paradise Landscape. Miller will partner this weekend with Sebastian Saavedra who drives the No. 29 William Rast entry. Saavedra and Wilson are currently fifth and sixth, respectively, in the championship standings.
“Obviously, I am disappointed to not be driving this weekend but that is the economics of racing sometimes,” said Wilson. “I will be there to support Joel as much as I can and help him to get up to speed as quickly as possible. Bryan has worked hard to try to raise the necessary funding to keep me in the car this weekend but time was not on our side. We will keep working and, hopefully, I can be back to finish out the season.”