LUCAMA, NC – Lee Pulliam exercised his muscle to sweep twin Late Model feature races but it did not come easy for the two-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (NWAAS) national champion.
Pulliam, who came in fresh off a win at Motor Mile Speedway (Virginia) on Saturday night, spent much of the first race mired in a side-by-side battle with Raleigh, North Carolina's Bradley McCaskill. The two raced nose-to-nose, inches apart for well over 20 laps with McCaskill on the outside and Pulliam on the inside, trading the lead back and forth and trading paint on occasion. Pulliam got the edge on the last lap when he was finally able to sneak by McCaskill to score the victory in his first Southern National Motorsports Park appearance of 2015.
“It was definitely pretty exciting,” Pulliam said. “Every lap there, beating and trading paint. I had to do what I had to do to win that thing and he gave me a heck of a shot getting into turn three and I held on to the brake pedal and kept him back there. We did what we had to do to get that win to get those national points and that was huge for us right there.
“If the fans didn't enjoy that, they'll never enjoy short track racing.”
McCaskill, driving a car prepared by reigning East Carolina Motor Speedway champion Louis White, came with only one intent – to win. While he came up short, the 25-year-old was thrilled with his result.
“We knew coming in [Pulliam] would be the one to beat, trying to get his NASCAR points,” McCaskill remarked. “We're just out here having fun. To run with him like we did, that was pretty awesome.”
Behind the battle between Pulliam and McCaskill, the Southern National Motorsports Park track championship took a decisive turn in favor of Jonathan Findley. His main championship rival, teammate Andrew Grady, was penalized for avoidable contact after an incident with Tyler Matthews and was never able to overcome as, a few laps later, motor problems sidelined the 21-year-old. That allowed the stars to align for Findley – who would clinch the championship in the second race when Grady was forced to retire from the event.
“It feels really good,” Findley said. “The last couple months, we've been on a roll. Got my first win. We came back here and swept and that felt really good. That was our championship statement right there. This weekend, we had the car to beat, just didn't have the track position to be there. I had a lot of fun being able to compete with Pulliam and them. Great year, great weekend, can't thank everyone enough.”
Pulliam completed the sweep when he scored the victory in the second race. McCaskill again finished second and Kate Dallenbach finished third in both races. It was, however, Dallenbach who stole the spotlight at times. Late in the second race, the 18-year-old challenged Pulliam for the lead but could not complete a pass on him. Pulliam's second victory allowed him to add to his points lead in the NWAAS national championship race.
Michael O'Brien came away with the championship in the Charger division with his second place finish after championship rival Paul Williamson was swept up in a massive crash that took out all but two cars.
“We were coming into this race, we wanted to win but our main focus was the championship,” O'Brien said. “As long as we could come away with the championship, we were going to be happy. I feel like we could have won.”
Robert Arch scored the victory in his first race back since suffering a workplace injury in 2014 that sidelined the former Charger division champion.
“It's pretty awesome,” Arch remarked. “I thought we'd be a little better today. I guess not being here all year, racing in the sun, we struggled a bit in qualifying. We worked on the racecar and had a sporty little hot rod. We got wrecked on lap one, killed the car pretty good. To be able to come from the back and come back and win, you can't write that any prettier than what that was. All in all, a good day.
“I've never done a burnout before but today was worth it. After a year and a half off, to come back and win makes it all worth it to sit back and wait.”
Tyler Horne clinched the U-CAR championship with his third place finish while James Stroud collected the bounty that had been placed on the Toyota racecars that had won every race prior to Sunday.
“It's been a long time coming,” newly crowned U-CAR champion Tyler Horne said. “I've been in this position before. Lost it the last two years. You know, I thought I was going to lose on the last lap. I don't know what happened. It feels great. We're not the premier division but I think we bring the best racing here and all around. Can't complain. It came down to the wire. I knew I had to finish near [Travis Miller]. I couldn't have done it without all my family and friends' support and my sponsors.”
Will Bristle clinched the Legends division championship while Dillon Spain unofficially scored the victory in the race.
“I can't thank Dillon Spain Motorsports enough,” Bristle said. “My whole crew and family support me every week. Most importantly, my dad for everything he does for me. What a great track to come and race at every week.”
Kailey Murray did everything she had to do to win the Bandolero division championship, which meant winning her fourth consecutive race at Southern National, but it was second place finisher Josh Kossek who won the championship.
“It feels great,” Kossek said. “I've got to thank everybody on my crew. It's just unbelievable, a Southern National champion.”
While the regular season has concluded, there is still more racing coming at Southern National Motorsports Park. In two weeks, the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Model touring series will come to Southern National Motorsports Park for the first time in 2015 and popular track favorite Deac McCaskill, who has won four track championships at Southern National, will be among the all-star cast in the race.
The PASS race will draw other local racers, such as Justin Gill from Wilson and Southern National Motorsports Park Legends competitor Mason Diaz. The PASS race will be held on Saturday night, September 26th. More information about that race can be found at www.proallstarsseries.com.
For more information about Southern National Motorsports Park, check out SNMP’s website at www.snmpark.com, “like” Southern National Motorsports Park on Facebook or “follow” @SNM_Park on Twitter.