- Last Updated on 12:22 PM 04/23/12
- BY Joe Chandler
Philip Morris admitted he had been worried about Saturday night’s GCR Presents Spaulding Equipment Co. Night Late Model 150 at South Boston Speedway for the past couple of weeks.
Embroiled in a tight battle with former national champion Keith Rocco and soon-to-be crowned Motor Mile Speedway track champion Lee Pulliam of Semora, N.C. for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship, Morris needed a win in Saturday night’s 150-lap race to strengthen his bid for the national title.
“I don’t know what it was, but I was troubled in my spirit for two weeks about this race,” Morris admitted.
“I knew it was going to be a really tough, hard race to win. I was telling H.C. Sellers if we’re not perfect, we’re not going to win the race, and he was going to have to make the car perfect.
“He (Sellers) did the best he could,” Morris pointed out.
“He gave me the fastest car, but tonight it wasn’t enough. It took a bumper and a fast car.”
Morris got the win, surviving a dramatic sheet-metal banging battle with Pulliam over the last five laps of the race that brought one of the largest crowds of the season at South Boston Speedway to its feet.
It was a battle that left Pulliam and his team fuming at Morris’ racing tactics of the closing laps. As the young driver and his team voiced their displeasure at Morris and Morris’ team on pit road, Pulliam’s fans in the stands hurled a loud chorus of boos at Morris as he accepted the winner’s trophy and accolades for winning the South Boston Speedway NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car Division championship.
For Pulliam, the loss was a bitter pill to swallow. His chances of winning the national championship appear to have gone out the window with the runner-up finish.
“That sewed it up so we can’t win it,” Pulliam noted.
“We’re just going to keep racing hard and win these last couple of races we can run and make sure Philip doesn’t win it (the national championship). I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he doesn’t win next weekend (in next Saturday’s race at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford).”
The lead changed hands eight times between Morris and Pulliam during the 150-lap race. Morris was leading the race when the pair made contact on lap 143. Pulliam took advantage of the situation to grab the lead on lap 144. More contact followed the next lap, with Morris regaining the lead.
“He (Morris) gave me a couple of shots going in (into the turn),” Pulliam explained.
“I was just returning the favor. He (Morris) ran it in there in (turn) three and never let off of it. I just kept getting slammed.”
Morris said his move to regain the lead was simply a case of turning the table on Pulliam.
“He (Pulliam) kept moving the back of my car, so I did the same thing, I moved him,” Morris explained.
“I just felt like we had earned the right to get into Victory Lane tonight with the fastest car. I didn’t want to be the guy that didn’t put this team in Victory Lane.”
The contact between the two cars partially peeled the right front fender off of Morris’ car. Fortunately for Morris, a mishap a lap later triggered a caution flag.
Morris’ teammate, Taylor Doggett, who had been battling with the two race leaders for about 20 laps, pulled up alongside of Morris’ car during the caution period and helped Morris clean the fender off of the car.
The caution, the sixth and last caution period of the race, created a two-lap green-flag sprint to the finish. Morris got a clean restart, and Pulliam wasn’t able to get into a position to set up a late bid for the win.
Doggett, of Ruther Glen, finished third with Frank Deiny Jr. of Ashland and Josh Oakley of Rougemont, N.C. rounding out the top five finishers.
Ronald Hill of Rougemont, N.C., North Carolinian Garrett Campbell, Doug Godsey of Richmond, Natalie Sather of Fargo, N.D. and Tommy Peregoy of Red Oak rounded out the top 10 finishers in the 24-car field.
150-LAP LATE MODEL STOCK CAR RACE
POS. NAME LAPS
1. Phillip Morris 155
2. Lee Pulliam 155
3. Taylor Doggett 155 4. Frank Deiny Jr. 155
5. Josh Oakley 155
6. Ronald Hill 155
7. Garrett Campbell 155
8. Doug Godsey 155
9. Natalie Sather 155
10. Tommy Peregoy 155
11. Bruce Anderson 155
12. Rodney Cook 155
13. Sam Hunt 155
14. Dennis Holdren 155
15. Mike Darne 153
16. Kyle Waltz 153
17. Johnny Cash 151
18. Tommy Lemons 146
19. Matt Bowling 139
20. Tanner Rumberg 130
21. Matt Waltz 109
22. Brian Creasy 83
23. Drew Holdren 83
24. Hunter Devers 64
TIME OF RACE: 1 Hr., 8 Min.
AVG. SPEED: 55.657 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.424
LAP LEADERS: Philip Morris 1-82; Lee Pulliam 83; Philip Morris 84; Lee Pulliam 85-86; Philip Morris 87-133; Lee Pulliam 134; Philip Morris 135-143; Lee Pulliam 144; Philip Morris 145-155
POLE WINNER: Philip Morris
TIME: 15.668 Sec.
SPEED: 91.907 MPH