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Larry Epperly, his staff and a very talented group of Comets came within one fateful opponent’s 3-pointer of crashing the State 5-A Final Four a year ago.
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Pulliam wins holiday duel with McCaskill
SoVaNow.com / July 08, 2013Lee Pulliam remains locked in a duel with Deac McCaskill for the 2013 NASCAR Whelen all-American national title.
Pulliam, recording his tenth win of the season Thursday night at South Boston Speedway, repelled McCaskill and others to win the late model race.
“We had to really play it smart with that invert (the eighth place car got to start the second half of the race out front," Pulliam said.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen. Everybody started riding, and it was one of those things to try to save tires (for 200 laps)."
Second half leader Josh Oakley moved out to a solid second half lead, but Pulliam had a strategy worked out.
“I have won a couple of these things before this one, and a lot of times the second half will go caution free, so I knew I needed to kind of keep pace with (Oakley). I couldn’t save but so much.
“Finally, made my run, used everything I had to get by (Oakley) and felt I had enough to hold off Matt Bowling at the end,” said Pulliam.
Bowling said his crew worked hard and the crew chief made some terrific calls.
“An awesome night,” said Bowling, who had one of his best efforts of the SBS season.
“I thought we were going to be in good shape there, about lap 150, I started feeling the right front just skate a little bit. It just magnified and it got worse," Oakley said.
“The car was driving excellent until that,."
The race featured a ten-minute break at lap 101, and an inversion of cars between the seventh and 12th spots after halfway.
Former four-time national title winner Philip Morris led early, with the yellow flag coming out on lap 12. Eddie Johnson, Thomas Scott and Ronald Hill were involved in early turbulence.
Morris kept the lead on the restart but another former national champion, Peyton Sellers, later led heading into the halfway stoppage.
At 101, the midway break occurred, with a pack of top drivers sandbagging the last 20 or so laps before the break.
Sellers won the first segment, with Morris second, Bowling third and Pulliam fourth.
It’s called gambling for the best position.
The inversion put the eighth place driver, Oakley, at the head of the field, but it was clear Pulliam had the strongest late model machine.
Pulliam seized the lead from Oakley on lap 165 and then pulled away from the other top contenders to win the late model feature.
Pulliam rolled on to collect the $5000 payday that went to the winner. He averaged 59.407 mph in a race slowed by two cautions that took up just eight laps.
There were four lead changes among five drivers. Pulliam, seeking his second straight NASCAR national title, regained the edge in the points chase as McCaskill limped to a tenth place finish.
Pulliam led the final 35 laps. He had started fourth on the inversion.
Pulliam outran second place finisher Bowling by 4.55 seconds to take the checkered flag for the 200-lap feature event. Oakley was third
Sellers finished fourth, while Morris was fifth.
NASCAR Camping World Truck series veteran Timothy Peters was sixth, with Bobby McCarty seventh, local drivers Bruce Anderson and Austin Thaxton eighth and ninth, with McCaskill tenth.
“Deac McCaskill, I couldn’t be racing with a better guy for the national championship. He’s a heck of a wheel man and mighty tough to beat down there at Kenly (NC).
“He’s had me scratching my head down there, we can’t really figure it out.
We’ve got to keep plugging these wins off ... and just keep digging,” said Pulliam.
With the win, Pulliam won the first leg of the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown Thursday night at South Boston Speedway.
The Triple Crown includes the 200-lapper completed Thursday night at SBS, followed by the July 27 Hampton Heat 200 at Langley Speedway and the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300 on Oct. 6 at Martinsville Speedway.
The winner of the 2013 Virginia late model triple crown gets a $5,000 first prize. There’s a $3000 payout to the series runner-up and $1500 going to the third place driver.
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