- Last Updated on 05:39 PM 05/06/12
- BY Joe Chandler
It wasn’t the longest or richest NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car Division race Lee Pulliam has won, but he calls his win in Saturday night’s WYYD presents USG Night 150 at South Boston Speedway “one of the greatest of my career.”
Making his return to NASCAR racing after having been suspended from NASCAR following an incident with Philip Morris at South Boston Speedway last October, Pulliam was the dominant driver in the race.
The Semora, N.C. resident won the pole in qualifying and led all of the 150-lap race, driving away to a 1.055-second victory over former NASCAR national champion and South Boston Speedway champion Peyton Sellers of Danville in a 14-lap dash to the finish that followed the last of the race’s six caution periods.
With the win, Pulliam became the fourth different winner in as many points races this season at South Boston Speedway. He is the fifth different winner in the track’s five races this season.
“It’s emotional,” Pulliam said of the win at the track that had been the scene of his last NASCAR race.
“It means a lot to be my first race back and get to Victory Lane. The last race here last year was pretty tough on me. Everybody makes mistakes, but you’ve got to learn from it, be a better person from it and grow from it. I think I’m a better driver and I appreciate it a lot more. I’m as hungry as ever to win races.”
That was very evident.
Pulliam pulled away to a sizeable lead over Matt Bowling, Deac McCaskill and Sellers before the race’s first caution flag flew on lap 75. Even with the field being closed up with five more caution periods, three in the last 50 laps, Pulliam never appeared to be in any serious danger of losing the race.
His Chevrolet was a rocket on restarts, and it never took him more than three laps to get away from the trio of challengers who were locked in a battle for second place. Still, Pulliam said he had to give it everything he had.
“I was doing everything I could,” Pulliam pointed out.
“You never know what is going to happen. Those guys are hungry for wins too.”
Sellers got the edge on Bowling, the track points leader, on the final restart when Bowling missed a gear on takeoff. Bowling wasn’t able to recover.
“I feel like I had a fourth-place car tonight, and a couple of restarts helped us a lot,” Sellers said.
“We were all racing for second (place). I knew Lee was going to get a pretty good restart. Matt didn’t go quite as good as he needed to, and Deac wasn’t quite able to get to the gas like he needed to. It all worked out.”
Bowling, who spent a lot of the race in second place, said the late-race mistake was costly.
“I messed up,” Bowling remarked.
“Peyton was able to get in front of me and track position came into play. Lee jumped the start, and I got into a panic trying to keep up with him and missed a shift. I had a second-place car and I gave second place to Peyton.”
McCaskill, from Raleigh, N.C., one of the track’s previous winners this season, finished fourth. South Boston’s Bruce Anderson had his best night of the season with a fifth-place finish.
Pulliam averaged 57.204 mph in winning the race that took one hour, two minutes and 56 seconds to complete. Six cautions slowed the race for 40 laps.
Time Of Race: 1 hr. 2 Min. 56 Sec.
Ave. Speed: 57.204 MPH
Margin Of Victory: 1.055 Sec.
Cautions: 6 for 40 laps
Lap Leaders: Lee Pulliam 1-150
Pole Winner: Lee Pulliam
Time: 15.751 Sec.
Speed: 91.423 MPH