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Morris enjoys significant positive chapter in his journey / July 03, 2017
Philip Morris is enjoying a $6,500 payday and another significant positive chapter in his journey.

Morris took the first leg of the Virginia Triple Crown by winning the 200-lap NASCAR late model feature in South Boston Speedway’s pre-fourth of July racing program Saturday.

Morris, with four NASCAR Whelen All American Series national championships and two SBS track crowns, knows his way around the local track. He outdueled a pair of crafty veterans, Stacy Puryear and Nick Smith, taking the lead with 42 laps to go. Morris led the rest of the way and ultimately held off Puryear by .635-seconds.

Morris also snapped a six-year win streak in this holiday weekend race, held by Lee Pulliam. Pulliam finished fourth.

The SBS race is the first leg of the Virginia Triple Crown late model series, which will be capped by the Martinsville Speedway all-star show under the lights on Sept. 23. The series also includes the Langley Heat 200 at Langley Speedway later this month.

On Saturday. Peyton Sellers was one of four national champions in the field (himself, Morris, Pulliam and defending national champion and 2016 SBS track champion Matt Bowling). Pullman might have had the best car in the field, but an inversion at the midway point hampered his chances in the second half. Morris, meanwhile, led the laps that counted the most, including the final circuit, and did a fine job holding off two of the most respected late model veterans – Puryear and Smith – anywhere.

Sellers led early, until the field was slowed by an early incident on lap 12 involving back-of-the-pack cars.

Sellers led the restart, and at lap 65 it was clear he had a very potent race machine.

On lap 93, the field was tightened by caution. But the field had to take a halfway break at lap 100.

Sellers collected the halfway bonus before the second half inversion. The top eight were inverted following the mid-race break.

At lap 104, the lead pack showcased some very competitive racing, with about eight cars battling for supremacy.

Danny Willis Jr. spun in turn four, slowing the field.

With 90 to go, Morris and Smith battled for the lead, but Timothy Peters was involved in a spin, slowing the field again.

Smith seized the lead and held the point at 125, with a very competitive pack behind him. Morris was right there, leaning inside.

A messy turn 4 incident slowed the field at 135, with four cars involved. Jason Barnes took a substantial hit in a red flag incident, with Trevor Ward also caught up in the incident.

The next restart came with 150 laps complete, with Smith leading the way. Morris powered by Smith, on lap 158, and held the point the rest of the way.

Morris held off Puryear by 0.635 seconds, with Smith third, 1.6 off the pace.

Pulliam was not a factor at the end, finishing fourth, 3.5 seconds off the lead.

Sellers led the first half and never found the kind of line he wanted after starting eighth at the mid-race break. Sellers finished fifth.

Bobby McCarty, pole sitter Bowling, Brenden Queen, Ryan Repko and Mark Wentz completed the top ten.

Morris averaged 49.017 mph.

Peters took home a 12th place finish. Austin Thaxton took 13th, with Eddie Johnson 17th. Willis, was 19th and Trevor Ward 20th.

There were four lead changes among five drivers. Sellers led 97 of the first 100 circuits, the most on the night. Sellers took home $1,500 in bonus awards, including the halfway leader award and the laps leader award.

Bowling collected the $1,000 pole award with a top speed of 99.134 mph, with Ward second and Sellers third in the qualifying round.

Twenty-six late models entered the race.

Peters, who recently lost his full-time ride on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, had to start in the back of the field, missing qualifying. But Peters had a legitimate excuse.

He missed the early action at SBS, electing to spend Saturday afternoon at his daughter’s second birthday party.

On his future, Peters said, “I really don’t know, to be honest… We’re just taking it one day at a time. Right now, my focus is on Nelson Motorsports and the future of this company…. We have such a really strong organization here. I want to see this deal succeed and make sure I’m doing my part to give the guys whatever they need to make sure we’re successful.”

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