Pulliam Wins At South Boston – Two for Three In VA Triple Crown Events
South Boston, VA – Lee Pulliam is no stranger to victory lane, especially when it comes to the 4/10th mile slightly bank oval of South Boston. This past weekend was no different with Pulliam adding pages to record books grabbing the win in the Bojangles Presents Dr. & Mrs. Maresca of St. Lawrence Radiology and Thunder Road Harley Davidson NASCAR Late Model 200. It was Pulliam’s fifth consecutive SoBo 200 win, his eighth of the season at South Boston, was the first time anyone has won more than one VA Triple Crown race in one year. Oh yea, did I mention it all comes after Pulliam grabbed his first at the “Concrete Jungle” known as Kingsport Speedway in Tennessee.
Though Pulliam was fast in practice, point’s leader Matt Bowling was able to snatch the pole with a time of 15.876 seconds (90.703 MPH), just .004 seconds faster than the Kiker Motorsports #5 machine. Austin Thaxton – who would later fail post qualifying tech and start in the rear – Bobby McCarty, and Matt Waltz would round out your starting five.
King Charles Photography Starting 5;
- #83 Matt Bowling – 15.876
- #5 Lee Pulliam – 15.880
- #12 Austin Thaxton – 15.903
- #6 Bobby McCarty – 15.973
- #2 Matt Waltz – 16.082
When the green flag waved over the field Matt Bowling took to the point and never really looked back. Well until we were placed under our first caution on lap 14 due to a spinning Justin Johnson in turn two. After throwing spark from under the right front from the get go, the team pulled the driver off the track heading for the garage area. The field doubled up after Waltz and McCarty take the cone, which the cone helped Waltz out a ton, he was able to grab second and regulating Pulliam to the fourth position.
Things stayed relatively calm through the first half. Some occasional door-to-door racing with Langley Speedway locals Terry & Just Carroll a little deeper in the field, a whole lot of “sizing up” in the top five, and a few wrecks thanks to Thaxton – contact with Juan Garcia in turn two sending him around and the caution to come out. As well as the #74 of Ronald Hill, who actually hit the backstretch/Turn three wall pretty hard. Spewing a good amount of fluid on the track, race control decided instead of rushing and doing a bad job, they would ride out the laps to the half way break.
Drivers and crews knew going into the break they were allowed to add fuel, make adjustments, move tires around, just could not change tires! What drivers did not know until the number was pulled, that the top seven… That’s right let me say it again, the top seven cars were going to be inverted. That put Nick Smith, a driver no one should sleep on, on the pole with Puryear to his outside. Forcing Bowling and Waltz almost out of the top ten. Somehow in the mix of things Lee Pulliam made out like a fox, restarting exactly where he pulled into the pits at – P4.
On the ensuing restart for the second half it didn’t take long for things to get messy. Again we look at Thaxton, either missing a gear or spinning the tires some kind of bad bottles everyone up behind him. Garcia, Justin Carroll, and G.R. Waldrop all get the short end of the stick and heavy nose damage – Carroll & Waldrop would fall from the race shortly after with various mechanical issues.
It was at this moment that things starting taking a turn for the weird, guess that’s what you expect from the second half of a race with $5,000 on the line. The green would be displayed and if you asked me Thaxton jumped the start but I guess the tower saw something different, as we stayed under green for just a bit!
After cars baiting cautions, lead falling from multiple race machines, and drivers being able to lag back four or more car lengths we were able to get back to some green flag racing. Decent battle for the lead as well with Bowling and Nick Smith – Bowling would prevail on lap 130. Pulliam worked his way around Smith for the second position just two laps later.
Behind them one hell of a battle for the fourth spot, Thaxton had it – Waltz working to take it away. A task not so easy when the car in front of you is laying fluid on the track. Thaxton and Waltz would spend the next few laps nose to tail – Waltz, running the faster times on the board, just could not find the clean way around Thaxton. It also doesn’t help when the car in front is dropping fluid for two laps and chopping corner exit just a bit. The two would ultimately touch out of four sending Thaxton around and transmission fluid all over the track.
To show his displeasure Thaxton – after his one or two donuts in four – took off hauling down the track after the #2 car, doing what you ask? Spewing transmission fluid ALL OVER THE TRACK. Thaxton’s night would subsequently be over and we would be placed under the red flag for over fifteen minutes.
Once clean up was complete and we were back to green flag racing Bowling again cracking the whip to the largest lead he has had all evening. Leaving Pulliam to deal with McCarty and Waltz to deal with the entire field.
It wasn’t long after the restart that Pulliam was able to reel in the #83 machine of Bowling and we had ourselves a new leader by lap 162. After that it was all she wrote! With just eight cars on the track and all the cautions used up pretty much, it allowed nothing but time for Pulliam to pull away, and no time for Waltz to catch up.
“Just an awesome weekend, nobody gave up. We put a lot of hours in this week,” Pulliam said. “Win five of these things in a row is just an unbelievable feeling, I have to thank everyone involved, Kowalsky Racing Engines, Hedgecock Race Cars and my team we just never give up.” With no tire changes at half way like the Denny Hamlin race earlier in the year tire management had to be key to make sure you were there at the end. “Such a long race you can burn the tires off so fast,” Pulliam said. “I was just trying to be at the right place at the right time in the race. I didn’t want to get to far behind but I didn’t want to burn it up either.”
Pulliam’s win not only helped inch closer to Bowling in the championship standing at South Boston but also helps extend his lead in the VA Triple Crown trilogy. Having won two of three events (something that to my knowledge has yet to be done) Pulliam looks ahead to October and taking home yet another Grandfather clock at Martinsville Speedway. The better question to ask, could Pulliam go on to win The Myrtle Beach 400 later this year in what we would call “The Grand Slam” of Late Model Racing in the South East?
P1 #5 Lee Pulliam; 200
P2 #83 Matt Bowling; 200
P3 #10 Nick Smith; 200
P4 #6 Bobby McCarty; 200
P5 #2 Matt Waltz; 200
P6 #90 Terry Carroll; 200
P7 #3 Nathan Crews; 199
P8 #1 Kelly Kingery; 199
P9 #22 Eric Winslow; 199
P10 #11 Juan Garcia; 153
P11 #12 Austin Thaxton; 142
P12 #01 G.R. Waldrop; 134
P13 #91 Justin Carroll; 128
P14 #20 Jonathan Cash; 113
P15 #17 Stacy Puryear; 106
P16 #74 Ronald Puryear; 91
P17 #44 Justin Johnson; 13
P18 #51 Matt Taylor; 5 *S&P*
P19 #15 Marshall Glass; 1 *S&P*