- Last Updated on 05:36 PM 06/10/12
- BY Doug Ford
Lee Pulliam has had his ups and downs the past two seasons at South Boston Speedway, far more ups than downs, but the Semora, N.C. driver’s racing fortunes are definitely on the upswing after a sweep of twin 75-lap Late Model Stock Car races Saturday night.
And, unlike past races where he qualified at the front or near the front of the pack, this time he won from further back in the pack from the ninth position in race one and from the fifth position in race two.
The wins were the third and fourth at South Boston thus far this season for Pulliam, who has won six of nine starts since May 1, the day he resumed racing following a NASCAR suspension.
Race one proved to be a battle between Pulliam, Danville driver Peyton Sellers and pole sitter Tommy Lemons Jr. of Troy, N.C., with Pulliam passing Lemons for the lead on lap 50.
Sellers pushed past Pulliam on lap 50 and the pair exchanged the lead twice in the next eight laps before Pulliam pulled past Sellers for good on lap 58.
Pulliam crossed the finish line 1.418 seconds ahead of Sellers, with Sellers finishing second, Lemons finishing third, and South Boston drivers Austin Thaxton and Bruce Anderson finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.
Race one had only two cautions and took 28 minutes to run.
An inversion for race two had Thaxton starting on the pole, and the young driver led for the first 20 laps before Sellers took the lead.
Sellers held the lead until lap 42, when Pulliam passed for the lead, and Pulliam held off Lemons down the stretch, including a green-white-checkered flag finish after a crash on lap 73 between Anderson and Thomas Scott, a Corbett Ridge, N.C., driver.
Pulliam crossed the finish line 0.335 seconds ahead of Lemons.
Matt Bowling of Ridgeway, Jeff Oakley of Prince George and Brian Pembelton of Amelia rounded out the top-five finishers in a race delayed five times by caution flags, including a red flag caution for the crash between Anderson and Scott.
Pulliam is splitting time between South Boston and Motor Mile Speedway thus far this season, and now leads all Late Model drivers at South Boston with four wins thus far.
“What a brutal race for anybody on the bottom,” remarked Pulliam after the second race.
“It was hard racing, and nobody wanted to give it up.
“I’m just glad nobody wrecked, and I was doing anything I could to keep it up front.”
Pulliam added he felt blessed to begin winning races so soon after coming off the NASCAR suspension.
“Everything happens for a reason, and it was a big life lesson for me,” he admitted.
“I’m very appreciative of the second chance NASCAR gave me, and there’s nothing better I like doing than rubbing fenders.
“The left side of the car is tore up, the right side of the car is tore up, and I’m here in Victory Lane.”
Lemons, who qualified on the pole for race one with a time of 15.946 seconds, was solid in both races with third and second-place finishes.
“We’ll take it,” said Lemons of his runner up finish to Pulliam in race two.
“We just missed it a little bit. We had a shot at it on that last restart and got run up the racetrack.
“That’s fine, no big deal, that’s part of racing.
“We’ll come back and tweak on it a little bit.”
Bowling rebounded from an eighth-place finish in race one to finish third in race two.
“We put our heads together and decided what to do, and it helped the car a ton,” said Bowling, who emerged from the twin races with the points lead at South Boston over Sellers.
“We definitely made an improvement. We weren’t nearly as good as Lee and those guys, and we just have to get over here and test and put some hard work into it.
“We have a ways to go, but I think we’ll be all right.”
FIRST 75-LAP LATE
MODEL STOCK CAR RACE
3.Tommy Lemons Jr.75
TIME OF RACE: 28 Min.
AVG. SPEED: 63.289 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 1.418 seconds
LAP LEADERS: Tommy Lemons Jr. 1-49; Peyton Sellers 50-53; Lee Pulliam 54-55; Peyton Sellers 56-57; Lee Pulliam 58-75
SECOND 75-LAP LATE MODEL STOCK CAR RACE
2.Tommy Lemons Jr.75
TIME OF RACE: One hour, two minutes
AVG. SPEED: 29.288 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.335 seconds
LAP LEADERS: Austin Thaxton 1-20; Peyton Sellers 21-42; Lee Pulliam 43-75