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Berry picks up Martinsville win; Pulliam win Triple Crown / October 07, 2019
Martinsville Speedway deserves credit for positive changes that made the ValleyStar 300 a cleaner, less cluttered race experience.

The race track’s most significant change involves eliminating inversions.

This clears the path for the strongest cars in the field to shine.

Josh Berry, take a bow. Berry checked all the boxes at Martinsville, and dominated the field. He had worthy competition at the end, but not having to deal with the inversion issue was a major factor.

He led wire-to-wire over 200 laps to claim the ValleyStar 300 NASCAR Whelen All American Series late model all-star race at Martinsville.

Berry won by 2.241 seconds and averaged 46.8 mph.

Second place driver, Lee Pulliam, claimed the Virginia Triple Crown, holding off last year’s winner, Peyton Sellers.

“I was just trying to win the race. At the end of the day, we won the battle for second. It was one of those days, it was a great day, took home $15,000 between Triple Crown and second place. But where you want to be is where Josh is right now,” Pulliam said.

Pulliam said it was awesome not to have to adjust for inversions.

“You take Josh, and you invert him at tenth, he’s got the race-winning race car. He’s gets held up, somebody jacks him up, he gets back to 15th, now he’s really upset, he’s driving with everything he’s got and he’s knocking people out of the way,” said Pulliam.

Pulliam has seen this kind of frustration play out before with inversions, with other drivers impacted. It causes unnecessary carnage.

On Saturday night, the top drivers did not have to deal with this distraction.

“The best cars are up front all night long. That’s where we should have been running,” said Pulliam. “I’m still a fan of no invert….the best car needs to go to Victory lane.”

Pulliam said it’s rare to see a late model machine as dominant as the piece Berry brought here.

There were other issues for some local drivers. Trey Crews saw a possible top ten go bye-bye when he ran out of fuel. He finished 22nd. Stacy Puryear also blew up and finished 24th.

Some of the other late model drivers had solid nights. Colin Garrett finished 11th.

Berry led until the first red flag on lap 132 after a wild, barrel-roll style crash. Taylor Gray had a solid run until becoming involved in a scary looking back straightaway incident. Gray said he he was fine after the incident. His car, however, was finished for the night after multiple flips. The red flag consumed 30-plus minutes. Gray finished 31st, 68 laps off the pace.

The incident stopped the race 18 laps before the end of stage two. Berry led under caution until the green flag flew. The yellow struck however until Ryan Wilson rammed the outside wall in turn four on lap 140.

Berry won the ensuing stage two, with the final 53-lap stage ahead.

Berry won the $1,000 bonus for dominating the stage one festivities (lap 75). The late model race featured stage winners, akin to the elements borrowed from the top level of racing.

2016 race winner Mike Looney, who started 21st, ran into tire trouble early.

OPENING NIGHT: Berry felt good after practice and also felt good after qualifying Friday night.

He picked up his first Martinsville Speedway pole award with a track record time of 19.927 seconds (95.027 mph) to win the top starting spot.

Berry was one of 20 drivers able to lock in their position during qualifying on Friday.

“We had a great run last year; come back and build off that,” said Berry. “We had a good test last week and towards the end of practice (Friday) I felt pretty good about (the car). Qualifying is always hard to tell with it being close and you have to make good adjustments. We have a long way to go (this weekend) but we’re off to a good start.”

Layne Riggs followed closely in second with a time of 19.959 seconds (94.874 mph)with Bobby McCarty third at 20.011. Peyton Sellers and Lee Pulliam rounded out the top five.

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