The four-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion won Saturday’s rain-shortened CARS Late Model Stock feature at the Rusty Wallace Automotive Group Short Track U.S. Nationals.
Pulliam, a 30-year-old from Alton, Va., drove his No. 5 Chevrolet past the No. 2 Chevy of defending race winner Myatt Snider and then held off the No. 99 Ford of Layne Riggs, the son of former NASCAR Cup Series driver Scott Riggs.
The race was called after 64 of its scheduled 100 laps for weather.
The history of BMS made the win all the more sweet.
“To win here, I can’t describe it,” he said. “I grew up idolizing all the race car drivers who raced here, Dale Earnhardt specifically, and one of his coolest wins was when he moved Terry Labonte. The fans went crazy, one of the times you heard 90 percent of them boo Earnhardt, but that was such a cool memory for me as a kid. To drive my car to victory lane tonight, that was incredible.”
Pulliam announced in February he was retiring from full-time racing and planned to run only the 12 races in the CARS Late Model Stock tour. But this one was on his bucket list, especially after he crashed out of a NASCAR K&N Series race in his last appearance at BMS.
“I really wanted this thing bad. It was the one thing I hadn’t checked off my list,” Pulliam said. “I won twice at Martinsville, but Bristol, I got in a wreck with a lapped car in the K&N race the last time I was here and hadn’t been back in four years.
“I had something to prove when I came back here. It was more self-rewarding than anything to be able to tame it.”
Ty Gibbs, the grandson of NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs, finished fourth in the No. 18 Toyota. Josh Berry, driving the No. 88 Chevrolet owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished fifth.
Joey Trent of Gray finished 17th, some 59 laps down in the No. 26 Chevrolet. He noted the difference in running 60 laps at Bristol compared to the 60-lap features he normally races at Kingsport Speedway.
“It’s not in the same universe,” Trent said. “The 60 laps we ran here feels like 250 laps at Kingsport. It is absolutely exhausting.”
Kingsport driver Austin Peters wrecked in qualifying and his crew repaired the body on his No. 66 Chevrolet before the race.
“The whole time we tested, we ran old tires from last year,” Peters said, explaining the cause of his wreck. “When we qualified the first time, we ran stickers (tires) and they were a little slicker than I thought. I was trying to dig as deep as I could and the next thing I know, I went around.”
He had an electrical problem at the start of the race, which he said was solved by jiggling a couple of wires. He ran some laps with the top-10 cars, but when the next caution came out, the car stalled out again and he parked it for a 23rd-place finish out of the 24 cars.
In preliminary races, Kyle Purvis of Marion, Ohio, won a 50-lap feature for the iCar Modified Series, and Illinois driver Ricky Wilson won a race for the Vore’s Compact Touring Series.
The third and final day of the Short Track U.S. Nationals features the Super Late Models. Following practice and qualifying, racing is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.
RUSTY WALLACE AUTOMOTIVE GROUP
SHORT TRACK U.S. NATIONALS
Saturday, May 19, 2018
At Bristol Motor Speedway
Late Model Stocks
1. (5) Lee Pulliam, 64.
2. (99) Layne Riggs, 64.
3. (2s) Myatt Snider, 64.
4. (18) Ty Gibbs, 64.
5. (88) Josh Berry, 64.
6. (7) Justin Crider, 64.
7. (2m) Bobby McCarty, 64.
8. (08) Dean McCaskill, 64.
9. (9) Sam Mayer, 64.
10. (2) Cody Haskins, 64.
11. (61) Justin Hicks, 64.
12. (23) Terry Brooks Jr., 64.
13. (77) Trevor Ward, 64.
14. (74) Ronald Hill, 64.
15. (9w) Charlie Watson, 63.
16. (96) Danny O’Quinn, 63.
17. (26) Joey Trent, 59.
18. (32) Nik Williams, 53.
19. (4b) Mike Chambers, 34.
20. (07) Bradley McCaskill, 31.
21. (22) Grayson Cullather, 31.
22. (02) Paul Nogradi, 16.
23. (66) Austin Peters, 16.
24. (7r) Brandon Rogers, 5