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Lemons wins at Martinsville

The darkness of night had fallen on Martinsville Speedway as Dillon Bassett and Tommy Lemons Jr. parked their cars on the frontstetch after taking the checkered flag at the end of the 200-lap NASCAR Late Model Stock Car Division race, the feature race of the Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 300.

 

Bassett got out of his car first, climbed to the roof of the car and started celebrating what he thought was a victory.

Moments later, Lemons climbed out of his car. As he was doing so, Bassett took a tumble from his car, dehydrated from the rigors of the race that had to be extended to 208 laps to reach a green-flag finish.

After a brief bit of confusion over which driver had won the race, Lemons and his team started to celebrate.

The confusion resulted when NASCAR officials reminded the drivers before the race that unless the race leader misses a shift, spins the tires or has a mechanical problem on the restart that the leader must get to the line before the second place car.  

Lemons beat Bassett to the line on the final restart of the race, but NASCAR officials ruled the start was good.

“Words can’t express it,” Lemons said of the win that netted him a $25,000 payday.

“This is amazing.”

Lemons ran with the frontrunners the first half of the race. But, his fortunes took a tough turn at the start of the second half of the race.

“We stopped on the end of the back straightaway, and my car cut off and wouldn’t fire back up and everybody passed me,” he explained.

“To get back into my position, I had to go to the outside. I guess I ran over a piece of debris or something. When they dropped the rag (the green flag) in the second half I could feel it wasn’t the same car I had in the first half. About five laps later, I smacked the wall coming off of (turn) two. I thought my night was over then.”

The Troy, N.C. resident pitted on lap 109 to have his crew change a flat left rear tire and got out of the pits without losing a lap. He was running tenth with 20 laps to go, and it appeared that his bid for the win was done.

Then came a surprise twist.

Lee Pulliam, who had won his second NASCAR Whelen All American Series national championship this season, Bassett and Matt Waltz staged a wicked three-way battle for the lead right after the 150-lap mark, trading the lead and trading paint on several occasions. 

Pulliam took the lead on lap 184 and held off his two challengers until the mandatory caution flag came out on lap 191 to set the field for a 10-lap sprint to the finish.

Waltz was eliminated from that three-way battle when contact with Bassett’s car resulted in him spinning into the wall on lap 196, one lap after the restart on lap 195.

Bassett took the lead on the next restart on lap 202 when Pulliam’s car was hit from behind by Deac McCaskill. Pulliam’s car spun in the first turn in front of the field and Philip Morris, C.E. Falk III and Davin Scites were all collected in the crash that also damaged McCaskill’s car.

On the last restart on lap 206, Bassett led with Lemons and Dennis Setzer, who had made up a two-lap deficit, in position to challenge for the win. Bassett apparently spun his tires on the restart and Lemons darted into the lead. From there, he held on to record his sixth win of the season.

“He (Bassett) didn’t go and I heard him spin the tires,” Lemons said.

“Luckily I got a good shove (from behind). My spotter cleared me by six (car lengths) off of turn two and I held on for the last two laps.”

For Sellers, winning the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown and the $5,000 prize that went with it capped a crazy up and down day.

The former NASCAR national champion and South Boston Speedway champion did not make the feature race with his car after the power steering line broke during his qualifying race, spewed fluid onto the engine’s headers and ignited a fire.

In the Last Chance race, he was running eighth when he spun after being hit by another car and failed to finish high enough to make the field for the 200-lap feature race.

Tony Keen offered Sellers his car for feature race and Sellers raced to 13th place from his 32nd-place starting position during the first half of the race. After the halfway break, the car failed to fire and Sellers’ team found a wire had broken on the car’s alternator. The issue was repaired and he returned to the race six laps down and finished 14th.

Pulliam and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitor Timothy Peters were also in contention for the Triple Crown title that goes to the driver that has the highest points total from a designated race at South Boston Speedway, a designated race from Langley Speedway and the Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 300, but both were sidelined while leading the race.

“You’re not supposed to get a mulligan in a three-race championship, but we got a mulligan today,” Sellers said.

“There was nothing textbook or pretty about my day. A big thanks (goes) to Tony for giving me the opportunity – a true team player. At the end of the day, I’m just thankful I had the opportunity to run for the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown. It’s very fortunate that the tracks can get together and work together and provide this opportunity.”

Setzer finished third in the race behind Lemons and Bassett with Blake Stallings of Danville and Ryan Stiltner rounding out the top five finishers. 

 

NASCAR Whelen All-American Series-Virginia is for Racing 

Lovers 300 Results

Sunday

At Martinsville Speedway

Martinsville, Va.

Lap length: 0.526 miles

(Start position in parenthesis)

1. (2) Tommy Lemons Jr., Chevrolet, 208 laps, $25,050.

2. (14) Dillon Bassett, Ford, 208, $5,535.

3. (20) Dennis Setzer, Ford, 208, $4,030.

4. (37) Blake Stallings, Toyota, 208, $3,615.

5. (12) Ryan Stiltner, Chevrolet, 208, $3,040.

6. (13) Wayne Ramsey, Chevrolet, 208, $2,035.

7. (31) Brenden Queen, Chevrolet, 208, $1,830.

8. (36) Hayden Woods, Chevrolet, 208, $1,830.

9. (39) Dennis Holdren, Chevrolet, 208, $1,750.

10. (5) Bruce Anderson, Chevrolet, 208, $1,545.

11. (35) Wesley Falk, Toyota, 206, $1,530.

12. (10) Deac McCaskill, Ford, 204, $1,415.

13. (15) David Roberts, Ford, 204, $1,385.

14. (32) Peyton Sellers, Toyota, 202, $1,545.

15. (8) Lee Pulliam, Chevrolet, accident, 201, $1,345.

16. (4) Philip Morris, Chevrolet, accident, 201, $1,325.

17. (42) Davin Scites, Chevrolet, accident, 201, $1,350.

18. (18) C.E. Falk III, Toyota, accident, 201, $1,255.

19. (24) Myatt Snider, Chevrolet, 201, $1,230.

20. (3) Matt Waltz, Chevrolet, accident, 194, $1,200.

21. (16) David Garbo Jr., Chevrolet, handling, 180, $1,155.

22. (9) Brodie Kostecki, Ford, handling, 151, $1,140.

23. (38) Mack Little III, Chevrolet, brakes, 115, $1,255.

24. (23) Adam Long, Chevrolet, accident, 115, $1,110.

25. (6) Timothy Peters, Toyota, accident, 115, $3,115.

26. (17) Dude Gibbs, Chevrolet, accident, 114, $1,090.

27. (30) Ryan Wilson, Toyota, accident, 109, $1,080.

28. (19) Nick Smith, Chevrolet, engine, 109, $1,070.

29. (11) B.J. Mackey, Ford, accident, 107, $1,065.

30. (28) Alex Yontz, Chevrolet, accident, 107, $1,040.

31. (24) Ronnie Bassett, Ford, accident, 102, $1,030.

32. (26) Dustin Rumley, Chevrolet, electrical, 72, $1,030.

33. (34) Thomas Scott, Toyota, engine, 57, $1,180.

34. (7) Brandon Brown, Ford, handling, 43, $1,045.

35. (1) Chad Finchum, Ford, accident, 37, $2,050.

36. (33) Garrett Campbell, Chevrolet, accident, 22, $1,185.

37. (21) Bryan Reedy, Toyota, accident, 20, $1,030.

38. (41) Scott Lancaster, Chevrolet, accident, 20, $1,100.

39. (22) Matt Bowling, Chevrolet, brakes, 12, $1,030.

40. (27) R.D. Smith, Ford, accident, 12, $1,030.

41. (25) Ryan Glenski, Chevrolet, accident, 10, $1,030.

42. (40) Giles Thornton, Ford, DNS, 2, $1,115.

- - - - - -

Race Statistics

Caution Flags: 12 for 66 laps (two red flags for 10 minutes).

Lead Changes: 9 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders: T. Lemons 1-9; P. Morris 10-31; T. Peters 32-101; A. Long 102-103; D. McCaskill 104-112; M. Waltz 113-183; L. Pulliam 184-201; D. Bassett 202-206; T. Lemons 207-208.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): M. Waltz 1 time for 71 laps; T. Peters 1 time for 70 laps; P. Morris 1 time for 22 laps; L. Pulliam 1 time for 18 laps; T. Lemons 2 times for 11 laps; D. McCaskill 1 time for 8 laps; D. Bassett 1 time for 5 laps; A. Long 1 time for 2 laps.

 

Virginia Late Model Triple Crown standings: Peyton Sellers, 91; Brenden Queen, 58; Lee Pulliam, 55; Timothy Peters, 54; Bruce Anderson, 46.