Pulliam, Lemons Jr. Kick Off Season with Wins

The first day of March also meant the first day of the 2014 Southern National Motorsports Park racing season.  While practice and qualifying saw overcast skies and cooler temperatures, the clouds dissipated just in time for a sunny and warm afternoon in Lucama.


In the first of two NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock races, Justin Snow was the fast qualifier and led early.  It wasn’t until a mid-race caution came out that Tommy Lemons Jr. made a move.  Lemons and Snow battled side-by-side for ten laps, with Lemons leading the bulk of the laps by a nose.  Eventually Lemons would succumb to the Danville, VA driver. 


The 2013 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series North Carolina champion, Deac MCaskill, looked to improve on his third-place starting position.  McCaskill fought with Lee Pulliam hard, with both drivers taking shots at one another.  On a Lap 46 restart, McCaskill and Pulliam made contact again, this time sending Pulliam around.  Michael Hardin found himself with nowhere to go, impacting Pulliam’s passenger-side door hard, leaving the Semora, NC driver out of the remainder of the race.


Snow would pull away from Lemons, seemingly winning the first 75 lap event.  Snow’s car, however, failed post-race tech, giving Lemons the victory.   McCaskill finished second, while Myatt Snider, Dillon Bassett and Bradley McCaskill rounded out the top five.


The second Late Model race was to feature an eight-car invert, placing Ricky Jones on the pole.  Jones, though, came on to pit road for service before the green flag and was subsequently moved to the rear of the field.  That, coupled with engine trouble for Bradley McCaskill, placed Myatt Snider on the pole.  The Charlotte, NC driver led the first 20 laps, holding off charge after charge from Brandon Brown.  Brown eventually made his way past Snider, holding onto the lead until Lap 40. 


While that racing was taking place up front, Lee Pulliam was meticulously charging through the field in his battered Chevrolet.  Starting 21st, Pulliam made his way to the front using both on-track passes and the cone restart to get to the front.  On lap 40, Pulliam made the pass for the lead and wouldn’t look back.  Though some slower traffic held up Pulliam, Tommy Lemons Jr. couldn’t make a move, and finished second.  Payton Ryan started back in the field after an early exit to the first race and worked his way up to a third place finish.  Ryan, however, failed post-race tech and was disqualified.  Brown, in turn, was credited with third, while Dillon Bassett and Brenden Queen finished fourth and fifth, respectively.


“It just shows my team can overcome anything.  After the wreck they got right to work, the toe was knocked out, it was all bent up, and they gave me a car like-new,” Pulliam said.  The two-time national champion will run a full K&N East Series schedule, racing in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series on off weeks.


The 2013 champion, Robert Arch, picked up right where he left off, winning from the pole in the 30 lap Charger division event.  Arch, who had flown in from New Hampshire earlier in the day, had all of five practice laps in his Toyota Camry before running in Saturday’s event.  That was enough to keep the field behind for the length of the race, as Arch cruised to victory.  Tom Sauls and Wayne Goss were credited with second and third, while Paul Williamson and Jeff Rogers rounded out the top five.


In UCARs, James Stroud took the lead 10 laps into the 25 lap event after leader Duane Walker found himself hung up behind slower traffic.   Walker could never recover and Stroud took the win, matching his 2013 win total at SNMP.  Lynn Waller battled mechanical issues but managed to finish third.