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VIDEO: Defending champion captures second SBS victory

Philip Morris had the situation he wanted. He was lined up on the outside line beside race leader Lee Pulliam for the final restart with 11 laps to go in Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen Late Model 150 at South Boston Speedway.

The pair were side-by-side as they dove into the first turn. Then, there was contact as Pulliam attempted to clear Morris down the backstretch. Morris’ car glanced off of Pulliam’s car and off of the outside wall. 

Pulliam opened up a car-length lead as they sped into the fourth turn, and pulled away to edge Morris by .611-second at the finish to claim his second win at South Boston Speedway in three starts.

“It was a hard-fought win,” the defending NASCAR Whelen All American Series National Champion said after having recorded his fourth win of the season at three different tracks.

“I thought my spotter called me clear. I came up the racetrack, and right when I got to him (Morris), he (the spotter) hollered outside. I knew it was too late then. There was some fender-rubbing sideways action. Luckily I got the car back down and got away from him and was able to pull away by a few car lengths for the win.”

For Morris, who started seventh, it was a tough loss after having put himself in position for a possible win on the last restart.

“I was pretty sure we were going to win at that point because the outside is where I wanted to be,” Morris explained.

“I got down here (into the first turn) and I did go around him. When we got down the backstretch, I got pinched tight against the wall. It felt like it knocked the toe-in out of both wheels. He (Pulliam’s car) was hitting one (front wheel) and the wall was hitting the other one. That pretty much knocked our chances out right there. 

“After that, the car wouldn’t turn,” Morris added.

“I had the wheel cut all the way (left) and it wouldn’t turn. I knew I had knocked the toe-in out pretty bad.”

Former NASCAR Whelen All American Series National Champion Peyton Sellers of Danville finished third, with last year’s North Carolina NASCAR Whelen All American Series Champion Deac McCaskill of Raleigh, N.C. and Dennis Holdren of Roanoke rounding out the top five finishers.

There were five lead changes in the race among three drivers, with Pulliam leading twice for a total of 69 laps. Outside pole starter C.E. Falk of Virginia Beach led the most laps, leading three times for a total of 80 laps, but fell victim to an engine problem.

Falk was leading the race when the race was restarted on lap 88 after the race’s fourth caution period. He missed a shift on the restart and Pulliam got past him on lap 91 to take the lead for the final time.

Three laps later, Falk pulled up in the high lane of the track and waved the rest of the pack past him as he looked to get his car out of the way and onto pit road. 

“I missed a shift on that restart and that hurt the motor,” said Falk, who had finished fourth in a 250-lap race the night before at Myrtle Beach, S.C. Speedway.

“It (the motor) started skipping and stuff and breathing oil through the air breathers. I thought it might clear up. It started getting worse and worse, and I didn’t see any need trying to win $3,000 when I was probably going to lose $7,000 in my motor.” 

Bobby McCarty of Summerfield, N.C. finished sixth with defending South Boston Speedway NASCAR Whelen All American Series Champion Matt Bowling of Ridgeway, Va., Dustin Storm of Huntingtown, Md., Ronald Hill of Rougemont, N.C. and Austin Thaxton of Cluster Springs, Va. rounding out the top ten finishers.

Pulliam averaged 62.913 mph in the race that was slowed by five caution flags.