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Late move gives Pulliam win at SBS

One circumstance — one move — was the difference between a win for Lee Pulliam and a tough loss for Philip Morris.

The pair were battling for the lead when they ran up on the lapped car of Patrick Coleman on the 97th lap of Saturday night’s NASCAR Whelen Night Late Model 150 at South Boston Speedway.

Moments before reaching Coleman’s car, Pulliam stuck the nose of his car under Morris’ car as they entered the second turn to grab the inside line. When they ran up on Coleman in the middle of the corner, Morris had to check up momentarily to avoid rear-ending Coleman’s car.

When Morris had to get out of the gas, Pulliam surged ahead to take the lead. It was game over as Pulliam went on to score his ninth win of the season at South Boston Speedway and his 13th win of the season.

“I saw the lapped car (Coleman) there and thought that would be a good time to set him (Morris) up,” Pulliam explained of the move that was similar to a basketball player setting a pick.

“It worked out perfectly. I don’t know how it could have worked any better. It gave me the lead at a good spot.” 

For Morris, who had run his strongest race of the season at South Boston Speedway, it was a frustrating situation. 

“I think it stole the race away from the fans,” Morris said.

I got boxed in there, and I thought that car (Coleman) was going to come down (the track) and he stayed up. I had to hit my brakes to keep from hitting it.”

Morris lost several car lengths to Pulliam in that exchange, but got another opportunity at a win when the only caution flag of the race flew on lap 127 for a single-car spin by Thomas Scott.

The restart with 18 laps to go didn’t go well for the multi-time former NASCAR national champion either. Pulliam got a clean restart and gained a quick advantage of a couple of car lengths when Morris’ car spun its tires on the restart.

“I spun the tires on the restart and just couldn’t get going,” Morris noted.

“I didn’t have any idea they were going to spin. I couldn’t do anything then.”

It wasn’t all cake and ice cream for Pulliam on the restart either, as Matt Bowling made a hasty return to the track off of pit road in front of the race leaders.

“The 83 car came out of the pits in front of me and almost messed me up,” Pulliam pointed out.

“I had to finally move him out of the way. That was a pretty hairy moment in the race.” 

Nonetheless, the 150-lap NASCAR Whelen All American Series Late Model Stock Car Division race was a good one, with Morris providing a stiff challenge for Pulliam, who ran his recent South Boston Speedway win streak to three in a row.

“Wow, what a fight,” Pulliam said as sweat continued to dot his forehead.

“Philip was really good tonight. They’ve been working pretty hard on that car. That was the best his car has been here all year. That was a good win with him coming back. He was extremely tough.”

Josh Oakley of Rougemont, N.C. finished third in what was his strongest run of the season. He wrestled third place away from Dustin Storm of Huntingtown, Md. on the 88th circuit and fended off a late challenge by Storm to keep the spot, with Storm finishing fourth.

“I had a real good car,” said Oakley, who netted his second third-place finish of the season.

“I got up to third and was gaining on Philip quite a bit and gaining on Lee a little bit up until about lap 115. Then I started picking up a little chatter in the front end. I knew my right front tire was starting to give up a little bit. It was still a good run. We’ve got something to work with for the 200-lapper coming up on July 3.” 

Ronald Hill of Rougemont, N.C. finished fifth with South Boston’s Bruce Anderson, Austin Thaxton of Cluster Springs, Bowling, Coleman and Dennis Holdren completing the top 10 finishers.