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Win special for Morris

Every win is special to four-time NASCAR National Champion Philip Morris, but Saturday’s win in the Gazette-Virginian NASCAR Whelen Late Model 150 ranks right up there among his best.

After having parted ways with car owner Jim Dean in March, Morris, with the help of a small handful of friends, toiled for more than five months to put a car together. His first night on the track was a twin-race event at South Boston Speedway on Aug. 18, and he finished second to current NASCAR national points leader Lee Pulliam of Semora, N.C. in both races.

In Saturday night’s Gazette-Virginian 150, Morris led the final 146 laps of the 150-lap race that had to be stretched to 157 laps to create a two-lap green-flag sprint to the finish. At the end, Morris sped under the checkered flag .640 second of runner-up Josh Oakley of Rougemont, N.C. 

The win was Morris’ first win at South Boston Speedway since the dramatic confrontation between he and Pulliam in the 300-lap 2011 season finale last October.

“This win means a lot because it’s been a long time coming,” Morris said.

“We had to put this car together starting at the first of the year. We had to watch the racing going on all year. We knew that with every race we were getting further behind, that it was becoming more and more impossible to win a race here at South Boston Speedway.” 

Morris has endured some tough seasons during his racing career. In some ways, the 2012 season is one of the tougher ones.

“It has been hard to watch, listen and follow the racing,” Morris said.

“But, not having a choice to be here has really made it easy for me to do the best at what I was doing, and that was just working at the trailer shop and being with my family. 

“I’ve kind of approached my family life a little bit like my racing life, and be competitive with the time I spend in both places and try to do the best I can as a dad and as a business owner,” Morris continued.

“It (missing more than five months of the season) has changed my perspective in life a little bit. It’s awful good to be back here racing.”

Having a car to work on and being among friends that enjoy racing helped Morris get through the lengthy layoff.

“The guys have worked really hard,” Morris pointed out.

“They’ve given up a lot of Saturdays. I guess that’s made it easier too because I’ve been around them many Saturdays putting the car together. It’s been somewhat like being at the track. Now we’re actually here, and it’s a good place to be.”

Morris said this season, this experience, is much different than he had experienced the previous few seasons.

“Certainly it has been a lot different than my arrangement was before, and that was coming to the track and driving the car,” Morris said.

“Now, I’m working on the car again like I used to, and the guys are too. There is a lot of fun in that, too, it’s just a lot slower process. We just like being at the racetrack. Hopefully we can get back to where we used to be not have to miss any more races.”

One thing the layoff has given Morris the opportunity to do is to look at Late Model racing from the outside.

“Looking at it from the outside, I see a lot of things that are in play that I never gave it credit for,” noted Morris.

“Late Model racing is a battle of determination. I’ve been sitting on the outside and watching Lee do well. It’s a battle of wills. It’s almost like you have to go out there and impose your will. You have to have a lot of determination to do that.” 

The thing for Morris right now is catching up with chassis setups. The win Saturday night at South Boston Speedway shows he is well on his way to doing that.

“I feel good in the car,” Morris noted.

“I think this win gives us lots of momentum going into South Boston’s last race and into Martinsville in October.”