Lee Pulliam got a good launch on the the final restart with 10 laps to go and pulled away to edge Peyton Sellers in Saturday night's Italian Delight Family Restaurant Presents “National Night Out” NASCAR Late Model 100.
The Alton, Virginia resident won the pole and led all 100 laps en route to his third win of the season at South Boston Speedway.
Pulliam and Sellers restarted together on the front row for the last restart. While Pulliam got a good launch, Sellers lost third gear, opening the door for Pulliam to pull away over the closing laps and take the win.
Sellers, of Danville, finished 1.270-second behind Pulliam, with Jeb Burton, of Halifax, finishing third in a team car of Sellers. Daniel Silvestri, of Great Falls, finished fourth and Austin Thaxton, of South Boston, rounded out the top five finishers.
Burton was Pulliam's primary challenger for most of the race, with Sellers putting himself into contention for the win over the final 25 circuits. The last of the race's three caution periods came on lap 90 and appeared to set up a thriller of a finish.
The combination of Pulliam's good launch on the final restart and Sellers losing third gear gave Pulliam the margin he needed to secure the win.
Next Race At South Boston Speedway
A full night of action is on tap when NASCAR racing returns to South Boston Speedway on Saturday, August 10, with the 7 p.m. running of the Davenport Energy NASCAR Late Model Twin 75s racing program.
Twin 75-lap races for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car Division competitors will highlight the five-race program. Also included in the night’s action is a 50-lap race for the Limited Sportsman Division, a 30-lap race for the Budweiser Pure Stock Division and a 15-lap race for the Budweiser Hornets Division competitors.
Registration and pit gates open at 2 p.m., practice runs from 4 p.m. until 5 p.m. Grandstand gates will open at 5:30 p.m. and qualifying starts at 6 p.m. The first race gets the green flag at 7 p.m.
Looney outdueled by late model king Morris at Motor Mile Speedway
By JW Martin
Special to the Bulletin
Saturday night’s Kesler Contracting 100 presented by Coors Light, WFXR News and 94.9 Star Country at Motor Mile Speedway wasn’t a race. It was a chess match.
Cagey Late Model racers Philip Morris and Mike Looney staged a sensational side-by-side duel for the win in the final 60 circuits of Motor Mile Speedway’s 100-lap marquee feature. The breathtaking battle produced nine lead changes and 57 laps of two abreast racing action.
And in the aftermath, the first-place finisher and the runner-up were wearing winning smiles.
“It was all mental, really. You couldn’t slip even a little bit,” said Morris, who forestalled Looney for the win by a slim .259-second margin of victory. “It’s fun racing against guys that have sportsmanship and respect. That’s what I want the fans to take away from here tonight. Not that I won the race, but that you can be a class act. You can not make it to victory lane and still win.”
Billed as the biggest night of racing thus far in 2019, the epic Late Model feature exceeded the hype. The race had national ramifications for Morris and Looney, driving for Stuart's Billy Martin Racing. Morris entered the contest ranked second in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national standings, trailing points leader Peyton Sellers by a mere 18 points. Looney was ranked fourth, 56 points behind Sellers.
Locally, the duo had combined to win all nine Motor Mile Speedway races in 2019, with Looney boasting a division-high six victories. Saturday night’s checkered flag was particularly coveted, and the racing proved it.
Morris captured the Price’s Body Shop pole award, but started the race seventh following the re-draw. Looney’s handicap was even more imposing. Following three straight division victories, Looney was relegated to last place on the 13-car grid per Motor Mile Speedway’s Consecutive Wins policy.
The remainder of the race exemplified the essence of quality short track racing. At the front of the field, just three complete circuits of single-file racing occurred over the final 60 laps. Morris orchestrated a masterful top groove strategy, successfully staving off the No. 87 by restricting the momentum Looney could glean from the bottom groove. Morris ceded the preferred lane to Looney throughout the tremendous seesaw battle, with Looney launching repeated assaults on Morris from the inside line. Though Looney managed to wrestle the lead away from Morris on four occasions, he failed to complete a pass attempt on Morris’ no. 01.
“I knew I was quicker than him, and I thought I could wear him down,” Looney explained. “What a heckuva race car driver. That guy can flat wheel it. I had position on him for about 60 laps, and somehow he could get a run on the outside and keep me pinched down just enough. Just an epic battle.”
As the laps dwindled, it became apparent that the only tactic that would unseat Morris was the only tactic Looney refused to use. The intense, prolonged struggle for first produced only minimal contact; the two seasoned Late Model standouts executed a calculated, door-to-door battle memorable for the mutual respect that reigned supreme.
“If it had been somebody else, I probably would’ve won that race because I would’ve done what I needed to do,” Looney said. “But when a man gives you all that room… all the room in the world… the man deserves respect. It’s pretty cool the shows you can put on in these cars with a little mutual respect.”
The victory was Morris’ 111th Motor Mile Speedway Late Model triumph. The eight-time Motor Mile Speedway Late Model track champion echoed Looney’s assessment of the dramatic heavyweight tilt.
“He could’ve took me out any lap. I’ve raced with him for a long time. He’s the last guy that will dump you to win a race,” Morris said. “He had a beast of a car. That thing was awesome on the bottom. I didn’t know that I would be able to hold him off for a hundred laps.”
In summarizing the race, Looney acknowledged that he had never been more satisfied with second place.
“That is why I race. That is exactly why I race,” Looney exclaimed. “That’s fun. That’s what it’s about right there.”