- Last Updated on 12:22 PM 04/23/12
- BY Joe Chandler
Rain put a damper on the 150-lap NASCAR Late Model Stock Car Division race of Saturday night’s Country Cares St. Jude’s Night racing program at South Boston Speedway. There was no damper, though, on Lee Pulliam’s celebration.
Pulliam, from Semora, N.C., scored a flag-to-flag win in the race that was shortened to 126 laps due to rain. It was his third win of the season here and his second win in his last three starts.
“You always like running the whole race,” Pulliam said, “but I like winning races ever how I can win them. To get a third win here is pretty awesome.”
Pulliam staged a dominating performance, taking the lead from first-time pole starter Jeb Burton of Halifax on the opening lap and never looking back. During a 70-lap green-flag run, Pulliam built a lead of over a quarter of a lap over Puryear. A caution flag on lap 109, closed up the field but Puryear was unable to take the lead or the win away from Pulliam.
“I had a pretty good lead, and was hoping we could ride it out and get an easy ‘W,’ Pulliam said.
“But, they never come easy. A caution like that can really throw you a curve. Stacy is always good on restarts, and Justin has a real good long-run car. You’ve got to be on your toes. You never know what the racecar is going to do from turn to turn.”
Pulliam pulled away from his challengers when the green flag flew again on lap 117. Rain began falling two laps later and NASCAR track officials put the race under caution on lap 122. When the rain turned into a steady dousing, the field was brought onto pit road and the race stopped at lap 126.
NASCAR and track officials made the race official about 20 minutes later as a steady rain continued to fall.
Stacy Puryear finished second with track points leader, Justin Johnson of Durham, N.C., finishing third. Josh Oakley of Rougemont, N.C. and David Latour of Advance, N.C. rounded out the top-five finishers. Burton finished seventh.
Puryear admitted he was glad to get out of the night with a second-place finish.
“Anytime you finish second at South Boston Speedway you have to feel real good about it,” Puryear remarked.
‘I’m fighting the car still being a little tight on entry (to the corners). Once again, that is where Lee is beating me. I just can’t run with him. We made a few stabs at it this week and got it a tick better. But, it’s still not where we need to be.”
For Johnson, it was another night of struggling with a car that hasn’t been at its best.
“We had a bump-up coming to the finish line at Motor Mile Speedway the last time we went up there and we haven’t gotten whatever we messed up fixed,” Johnson explained.
“We can’t quite figure out what our problem is. We know it’s there and I can feel it in the front end. We’ve changed just about everything under the front end. We just can’t find exactly what it is to get the tightness out of the steering wheel.
“Whenever we get it back right, we’ll have something for him (Pulliam),” added Johnson.
“But, until that happens, we’re stuck back here in third. It’s just disappointing because we’re so far off.”
C.E. Falk III of Virginia Beach was the top qualifier for the race, but his car failed a post-qualifying inspection when it was found to be too low. Nick Smith of Hampton, the second-fastest qualifier, also had his qualifying time disqualified for having a coil-bind issue with the left front spring.
Track NASCAR officials gave Falk and Smith an opportunity to correct their respective issues and start at the rear of the field. However, both declined and left the speedway prior to the start of the race.
With Falk and Smith having their qualifying times thrown out, Burton became the pole starter for the race, marking the first time that Burton has started a Late Model Stock Car race here from the pole.