Justin Milliken Teams Up With Nelson Motorsports To Try And Capture Elusive Myrtle Beach 400 Winby Hunter Thomas November 11, 2019 0 comments
SHALLOTTE, N.C. – Justin Milliken has run a career’s worth of races at Myrtle Beach Speedway, but he has yet to win the Myrtle Beach 400.
This year, the Shallotte, North Carolina native is teaming up with Late Model powerhouse, Nelson Motorsports for the 27th running of the prestigious NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model race. Milliken kicked off the season piloting a Nelson Motorsports car in the IceBreaker. He finished third in the that race back in February, but since then, Milliken has had a solid but winless season. In 16 races, Milliken has finished inside the top-10 on 10 occasions. Wanting to make a change and switch things up for the season finale, Milliken reached out to Nelson Motorsports for assistance.
“I’ve always had a relationship with Timothy (Peters) and Marcus (Richmond) forever,” Milliken said. “We bought our second car from them, and we ran that car at the IceBreaker. At the end of this year, we hadn’t been really happy with our car and needed to make some changes. I hadn’t completely gotten it done.”
After a phone with Richmond, Milliken had a ride for the 2019 Myrtle Beach 400. The effort has allowed Milliken to spend more time with his family and at his day job. Not only is the family time valuable heading into the holiday season, but Milliken will now be competing in some of the best equipment at the track. He was originally scheduled to compete in one of Peters’ cars, but it received damage at South Boston Speedway, so now Milliken will be piloting one of Bobby McCarty’s No. 22 cars.
“That car runs good all of the time,” Milliken said. “I’m really excited. We have my motor builder. We’ve put our engine in there. Timothy, Marcus, David Triplett and Barry Nelson, they have a second to none organization. I have been to a lot of Late Model shops, and they have awesome resources. They’ve got really good sponsors and so they’re able to have the best of the best. It’s exciting to know that we’re going to be sitting in the best equipment, and we’ve just got to put it all together.”
The effort this weekend at Myrtle Beach Speedway is also going to hold a special place in Milliken’s heart. Ironically, his grandfather, Alton Milliken used to compete in a No. 22 go-kart until he broke his hip and ended his career. This will mark the first time ever in Milliken’s career that he will carry the number of his grandfather.
“My granddaddy, he started go-kart racing in the 60s, and he has been No. 22 forever,” Milliken said. “That was his number. He raced up until he was about 75, and he broke his hip in Loris. He broke his hop go-kart racing, so he hasn’t ever raced since, and we’ve never run that number.”
Milliken jokes about not having any luck in the Myrtle Beach 400 with his No. 02, so he’s hoping that his grandfather’s No. 22 will bring him some luck. Throughout the years, Milliken has experienced nearly every way to lose the prestigious race, and winning it while working with his team and Nelson Motorsports who helped him get his career started, would mean the absolute world to his career.
“We have a lot of seconds and a lot of wrecks and halfway awards, but we have zero Myrtle Beach 400 wins,” Milliken said. “It’s the only one I have left before I can quit. It would mean the world. Last year, we were able to win the state championship and the track championship, and that was just humongous, and probably, I wouldn’t trade a Myrtle Beach 400 for that state championship. To be able to finally win that thing – I’ve been in it so many years. I’ve been wrecked on the last lap twice leading it. Wrecked, caught on fire, been upside down, I’ve done it all in that race and to finally be able to put a check in that box would just mean the world.”
While Milliken will be competing in a Nelson Motorsports car, his team will still be assisting with the efforts. Milliken’s sponsors will also still be adorning the red, black and white No. 22 as well.
Milliken said, “We started the season in a Nelson car, and we’re going to end the season in a Nelson car.”
On Saturday at Myrtle Beach Speedway, gates will open at noon for the Myrtle Beach 400. Qualifying will get underway at 12:30 p.m., followed by opening ceremonies at 3 p.m.
Photo Credit: Justin Milliken