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Morris posts 20th SBS win, withstands retaliation in 300-lap season finale

Philip Morris had no clue what was coming after he took the checkered flag to win Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen Late Model 300 presented by Danville Toyota at South Boston Speedway. His racing rival, Lee Pulliam, did.

Enraged after he spun on lap 227 from what he felt was intentional contact on the part of Morris, Pulliam extracted a measure of retaliation after the checkered flag flew to end the 300-lap, 120-mile race.

Pulliam first spun Morris into the inside wall on the backstretch and then rammed his car head-on into Morris’ car, destroying the front end of both of the cars.

“I was totally shocked after the checkered flag and he came up there and wrecked us and then head-butted me there,” Morris said.

“I was expecting something a little more professional right there. I know he hurts. I hope he will get over it and we can go on racing like we should.”

Pulliam said he was simply fed up.

“I’ve let him (Morris) do it too many times,” Pulliam said.

“He’s pushed me over too many times. I can’t take it anymore. They (NASCAR officials) should have black-flagged Philip when he wrecked me. That was the only way he (Morris) could win the race. They didn’t black flag him, so I drove my butt off trying to get back to him and came up one spot short. If I had been one spot higher when that (last) caution flag came out, it would have gotten real exciting.”

Morris and Pulliam engaged in a thrilling battle for the lead that was very much like others the pair have had at South Boston Speedway this season. They swapped the lead four times in four laps before Morris used a crossover move to drop to the inside of Pulliam.

“I did a crossover move going down the backstretch, and got all the way up past his left rear tire,” Morris explained.

“I was way up far enough on his car to get inside. I totally get that he wanted me to just not go there. But, I mean, this is racing. This is what it’s all about. I wouldn’t think he would expect anything any different.”

Pulliam fell back to 16th place after the spin on lap 227 and raced his way back to fourth place before contact with Dennis Holdren sent Holdren’s car into a spin on lap 293 to bring out the race’s final caution period.

He was able to get past Frank Deiny Jr. on the final lap to grab third place in the race before extracting his measure of retaliation on Morris.

Morris collected $10,000 for the victory in South Boston Speedway’s season finale, edging runner-up C.E. Falk III of Virginia Beach by .345 second in a two-lap shootout that followed the race’s final caution period.

The win was Morris’ 20th of the season at South Boston Speedway and his ninth win in a row at the track. The nine straight wins to conclude the season tied the previous track record of nine consecutive victories set by Morris earlier this season.

Pulliam, Deiny and Brandon Butler of Sutherland rounded out the top five finishers.

Matt Bowling of Ridgeway, Greg Edwards of Poquoson, Michael Hardin of Pomfret, Md., Taylor Doggett of Ruther Glen and Deac McCaskill of Raleigh, N.C. rounded out the top ten finishers in the 38-car field.

South Boston’s Austin Thaxton, competing in his third career Late Model Stock Car Division race, finished 11th in a solid performance.

It was a big day for Falk as he rallied from some disconcerting circumstances. Falk started 19th after driving to a second-place finish in one of the day’s two 25-lap qualifying races and spent his day picking his way to the front of the field.

He battled Morris for the lead over the final 40 laps, getting himself into position to make a final bid for the top spot on the last restart. Falk held the lead for one lap before Morris moved into the lead and held it over the last two laps.

The race featured 15 lead changes among seven different drivers. Morris led five times for 99 laps. Pulliam led three times for 72 laps.

Morris averaged 39.217 mph in the race that took three hours and three minutes to complete. Fifteen caution flags slowed the race for a total of 89 laps.