The Bull & Bones Late Model Stock Car field was playing catch-up throughout the Blue Ridge Copier Twin 100’s.
So was Lee Pulliam.
Two weeks removed from a dismal 2012 debut at Motor Mile Speedway, the defending track champion swept Saturday night’s twinbill convincingly. The dominating effort signaled the start of Pulliam’s return to a position of prominence in the points race.
The bid to renew his status of championship contender is underway…the resurgence has begun.
“We can do it,” said Pulliam of his championship aspirations. “It will make it that much sweeter, missing the first two months of racing. Tonight was really important.”
The pair of Late Model races featured an all-star lineup: the field showcased two of the top five drivers in the nation, as both Matt Bowling and C.E. Falk were in attendance. Peyton Sellers, the 2005 WHELEN All-American national champion, was making his maiden start of the season at the .416-mile oval. And momentum favored Josh Berry, the current division points leader and the track’s most recent winner, who started alongside Bowling on the front row for the opener.
But despite the caliber and depth of competition, Pulliam proved unbeatable. From a fourth-place starting position, Pulliam eclipsed Berry for the lead following the restart on lap 55, becoming the third and final leader of the race.
Pulliam bested Falk by a margin of 1.248 seconds at the checkers, with Berry rounding out the top three.
The first 100-lapper was plagued by a plethora of cautions, as six yellows slowed the pace of the race. And one dustup would have lingering implications.
A top-five showing in the first feature for Derrick Lancaster was thwarted after an altercation with Frank Deiny, Jr. near the event’s midway point, spawning a three-car incident that involved Sellers, among others. Although contact between the pair was not definitive, Lancaster expressed his displeasure through retaliation on lap 22 of the finale; Deiny was sent careening down the back straightaway after contact from the nose of Lancaster’s No. 25.
The spin unfurled the first of two yellow flags in the nightcap, and warranted Lancaster the black flag. Both racers were running inside the top ten at the time of contact.
“[Deiny] knocked me out of the way in the first race, and I came back and returned the favor. And I’ll tell you I did it on purpose, and I’ll do it again,” said a fuming Lancaster. “You gotta do what you gotta do.”
“I don’t feel like I touched him. If I touch people, I usually own up to it. I’m not really shy about that. If I touched him, he ran out of talent. If I didn’t touch him, he ran out of talent,” Deiny said in his response to the quarrel. “I have to thank him. We had one of the worst runs we’ve had in a long time in the second race, and if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have been interviewed. So I have to thank my new sponsor for that, Derrick Lancaster.”
Up front, Pulliam boasted a commanding advantage over his closest competitor, as the final feature became a race for second place. In the closing circuits Sellers, rebounding from an eighth-place starting position, assumed the runner-up spot, trailing the leader by a colossal 4.3-second margin at the checkers.
“I was pretty much letting her eat right there,” said Sellers of his pursuit of Pulliam. “It was a good night for us, coming back from a first race where we were really not where we wanted to be. But we had a pretty good car at the end; Lee had just run off and hid, and I couldn’t track him back down—there just weren’t enough laps.”
Despite the lap 22 penalization, Lancaster mounted a remarkable rally to notch his first podium effort of 2012 with a third place showing.
It was a must-win scenario for Pulliam, who continues to eye both a track championship and a national title. Pulliam is expected to improve his standing in the WHELEN All-American Series Top 500, having entered the evening 48th in points. Pulliam continues to ascend the division standings at Motor Mile Speedway as well, although the deficits suggest Pulliam still has some catching up to do.
IN OTHER DIVISIONS
Track champion Wayne Corprew made the most of his return to the New River Nissan MOD-4 ranks Saturday night, besting a 12-car field to win the 30-lap contest in his 2012 debut in the class. Points leader Doodle Lang and Rocky Yates completed the podium, respectively.
Patrick Janney returned to victory lane in the UCAR feature, and the pair of Minicup races went to Sammy Brooks (SESMC) and Ryan Adams (VAMC).