Phillip Morris Takes Home the Big Check in the W.O. Grubb 150
Thornburg, VA – The story at Dominion Raceway Thursday was all about points. Lee Pulliam made his debut at the track hunting for some late season national points as he holds a one point lead over second place this season, he is trying to get his fourth national championship. The track championship is also very close with Tyler Hughes and Doug Barnes battling hard all season long.
The 2016 national champion qualified on the pole running a 15.247 second lap to beat out Morris by .012. Pulliam would start fifth and Hughes out ran Barnes by 6 spots and started on the outside of row three. But they do things a little different at Dominion Raceway, and Bowling pulled a six out of the redraw bag which put Hughes up front for the green flag.
Hughes enjoyed the lead with no pressure from behind for the opening thirty laps until Morris was able to navigate through the cars between them like it was nothing. As they first started catching lapped traffic Morris kept cutting into the lead but the caution would erase it fully with Colin Garrett spinning out off of turn two.
The green flag flew with an even hundred alps remaining in the race and Hughes cleared Morris, he tried the high line with the cone choice, fairly easily. Fourteen laps into the run and Morris had shaken Sellers off from his rear and was no focused 100% on Hughes. Morris was able to nose in to the inside and they raced door to door for a lap until Hughes pulled back ahead and the caution came out for the second time, this time for 2016 track champion Nick Smith getting a tap to his rear and spinning out. Under this caution Lee’s crew tried to fix his ailing car several times and he eventually got caught two laps down.
The front row stayed the same for this restart with Hughes low and Morris high. They didn’t waste much time as they went three wide along with Sellers for the lead, Morris ended up winning out on the risky move on lap 80. Hughes put up a fight for the next couple of laps, peaking inside of Morris a few times but couldn’t get past the four time national champ. Sellers made some contact with Hughes in his pursuit for second but it got them both out of line and Bowling took over the spot. Not long after that the biggest wreck of the night put a lot of damage on several cars with Jeff Oakley, Michael Hardin, Barnes, and Hughes all taking hits.
Morris liked the high line and chose it again, but as the leader this time. He cleared Bowling on the restart and Sergio Pena worked his way by Bowling for second and Brenden “Butterbean” Queen also worked up to fourth place getting by Sellers. Behind them Barnes and Hughes ended up battling each other for seventh position and with 35 laps to go even made it three wide while passing a slower car, these two left nothing on the track. Nine laps later they are still side by side but the caution came out for Chris Johnson’s car losing a motor. A rough ending for Johnson who had come from 23rd to 6th at this point.
The next green flag run was short lived as Puryear got caught up again and this time it ripped off most of his body work and the red flag had to come out to get everything up.
For the next restart Morris again went high and Pena and Queen chose low. Morris showed how strong his car was on this restart setting his fastest time of the race as second through fifth all ran side by side and completely checked on them. Barnes and Pena traded second position for a few laps while they were side by side but Barnes would eventually fall back to fifth with Hughes and Queen getting by him.
Morris took the checkers with no pressure from behind him to win his second big trophy of the year, with his first being the South Boston leg of the triple crown.
After the race Morris had nothing but praise for the racing at Dominion, “I want to race here all the time, I keep telling the guys. They think its close and I’m only an hour away but every where we go is three hours but I just love this place. I just wanna keep coming here, you can really charge the corners here and it makes for some really great racing.” He also mentioned why the racing is so good, “That guy in the 8 car [Tyler Hughes] we had a good battle out there, he was running pretty good. It’s kind of weird, it’s hard to get away from anybody because you got some drafting going on too so you get a little bit of everything. I’ve run some of the Xfinity series, truck series, and its a little bit of everything so any driver that is looking to go up they want to come here because you can learn a lot more at this race track.” The team plans on using this momentum going forward to finish out the year strong and use the lessons learned this year for a possible run next season at the national title.
We also caught up with a very happy Sergio Pena, “We did a lot better than expected, coming into this race we weren’t sure if we were gonna run it or not it was kinda last minute. We came to practice with a set of tires that had a 100 laps on them so to come home second surpassed all of our expectations. Qualified kind of bad to be honest, qualified 16th and fortunately had Sam on the spotters tower for me kind of guided me through the crazy traffic that was out there. Had a couple lucky breaks with cautions that fell at the right time and I’ll tell you what before we knew it half way through the race we were right up there with Peyton Sellers, Phillip Morris, and Matt Bowling…some of the best names in the country, the best names in the country, and to come home second behind Morris I’ll take that as a win its just unreal. Just want to thank you to Sam Beatie and Joe, these guys work on this car very hard and it wouldn’t be possible without them so I just want to say thank you to those guys.”
- Phillip Morris
- Sergio Pena
- Tyler Hughes
- Brenden Queen
- Doug Barnes
- Peyton Sellers
- Cameron Burke
- Timmy Phipps
- Stacy Puryear
- Colin Garrett
- Dustin D Storm
- Chandler Sherman
- Jeff Oakley -1
- Matt Bowling -17
- Eddie Johnson -25
- Chris Johnson -26
- Richard Storm -28
- Lee Pulliam -48
- Michael Hardin -61
- Mike Ganoe -72
- Nick Smith -78
- Logan Jones -81
- Billy B Morris -139