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Pulliam all but clinches national title

Lee Pulliam unofficially clinched his second straight NASCAR Whelen All American Series national championship with a win in the first of twin 75-lap Late Model Stock Car Division races Saturday at South Boston Speedway.

But, his 10-race win streak was broken in the second race of the night, with C.E. Falk III of Virginia Beach claiming a $3,000 bounty after his second win of the season at South Boston.

Pulliam took home his ninth pole award (15.942 seconds) and his 15th win of the season at South Boston after a race-long duel with Garrett Campbell of Asheboro, N.C. in the first race.

The Semora, N.C., driver now has 25 wins to this credit this year, including 17 full field wins.

Campbell gave Pulliam all he could handle in race one, running the high groove and leading laps 2-19 before Pulliam returned the favor to lead laps 20-47.

Campbell passed Pulliam again and led laps 48-64.

Pulliam took advantage of lapped traffic and made his move on lap 65, moving lbeneath the car of Mark Keesee Jr., while Campbell was forced to go high.

Pulliam pulled away to the win, beating Campbell by 2.231 seconds, with Peyton Sellers of Danville finishing third, Josh Oakley of Rougemont, N.C., finishing fourth and Bruce Anderson of South Boston finishing fifth.

Matt Bowling of Ridgeway, Va, Austin Thaxton of South Boston, Myatt Snider of Charlotte, N.C., Falk and Ronald Hill of Rougemont, N.C., rounded out the top-10 finishers in the first race, which took 24 minutes to complete and had only one caution.

An eight-car inversion for race two had Snider on the pole, but Thaxton passed him for the lead on the opening lap and opened up as much as a straightaway advantage for the first 54 laps of the race.

Thaxton lost his chance for the win when he spun after contact from Sellers on lap 55.

One attempt at a restart ended with Oakley hitting the wall after contact with Snider, and Falk passed Snider for the lead on the restart following a red flag stoppage.

Falk led the remainder of the race, winning by 3.596 seconds over Snider, with Frank Deiny Jr. of Mechanicsville, Va., finishing third, Bobby McCarty of Summerfield, N.C. fourth and Hill fifth in a race that took 57 minutes to run, due to four cautions, including the red flag stoppage.

“We had a good car in practice and testing yesterday, but qualifying didn’t go our way and it sure didn’t in the first race,” Falk said after his win in race two.

“We weren’t very good at the beginning, but the car really came to life, and to we were able to use the car’s horsepower on the outside and keep digging.”

“That pretty much put a nail in the coffin,” said Pulliam referring to his national title-clinching win in the first race.

“It was a good night for us.  We’ve been working real hard to pull this repeat off.

“Garrett Campbell made it extremely hard for us to pull if off.

“I drove the tires slam off the car in the first race winning it.

“We didn’t get the second one, but we got the first one and the national title, so I’m a happy guy.”

Winning both the South Boston Speedway track title and national title in the same year are big accomplishments, Pulliam noted.

“What a great year,” noted Pulliam.  “We wrapped up the South Boston Speedway championship, the Virginia state championship and the national championship, and we’re leading the points at Motor Mile for the track championship.

“I’ve got the opportunity to win a lot of titles this year, so this is real special.”

Pulliam said he felt a lot of pressure at Motor Mile on Friday night, where he collected two more Late Model wins.

“We needed those two wins bad just to get to this point here, so last night was a lot of pressure,” he explained.

“Tonight, I told myself to drive my heart out and do the best I can.”

“I was a little more relieved and relaxed today than I was yesterday,” added Pulliam.

“Garrett had some awesome momentum on the outside…he made it tough on me, and I had a lot better car if I could get in front of him, but I used up way too much tire to get the job done.

“The second race as soon as we took the green flag it was chattering.

“It was all we could do to make the best of it, and we fought all night long as champions. 

“You just can’t quit, and you have to keep digging at it.”