Timothy Peters led a majority of the 2015 Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown, but it was an altercation in the last corner of the last lap that led to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver’s victory.
An intense battle took place in front of a standing and packed crowd of fans at South Boston Speedway (VA) Thursday night in the closing circuits between Peters, Hickory Motor Speedway track champion Josh Berry, two-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion Lee Pulliam and 2014 event winner Matt Bowling. Often times the four were running side by side in a high speed pace lap formation for the top spot and $10,000 check.
On the final lap of the race, which went 210 circuits due to late-race carnage, Peters appeared to hold the slight advantage, but was relentlessly challenged by both Berry and Pulliam. The result would end up with Berry making contact with Pulliam, ending both drivers’ pursuit for the prestigious victory. Peters avoided the altercation and came around for the win, one of the biggest in his career.
“This brings back memories from when we won the big race at Martinsville back in 2005,” Peters said. “When you have this platform and you are on this stage, regardless of the guys that run Truck, XFINITY, and Cup; the guys that run the Whelen All-American Series are tough and every single one of them deserves to be in the top three. It just goes to show you how tough it is to get there.”
Pulliam made contact with Berry after the checkered flag in turn two as they limped back to complete the race. Berry was penalized for aggressive driving and was put to the tail of the running cars at the end of the race. He was credited with a 17th place finish.
“Me and Timothy were just doorslamming and beating and banging and we kind of went up the track,” Berry explained to Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I went in there to fill the hole and they pulled up and I was there. It’s just a tough deal. I hate tearing up racecars. I hate that that happened, but I guess I could have went in easy and guaranteed myself a second.
“I probably did the wrong thing. All these big races like this that’s what it turns into at the end. I wish that would have turned out differently, but at this point it didn’t and it happens.”
Although Peters had the dominant car early, the former track champion knew something eventful could occur as the race wound down, especially after a lap 150 break in which teams were permitted to make adjustments and take on new tires.
“With 50 laps and everybody has four fresh tires the crazy stuff is going to happen,” Peters said. “I know if you are racing for bragging rights and $10,000, coming to the checkered flag I’m going to use you up and that’s what happened tonight. Unfortunately, for (Pulliam) he ended up getting turned around and we were on the receiving end of it. If Lee would have got any higher we would have found out what rear gear and pinion he had.”
Pulliam relayed, through a track security guard that remained with him throughout the post-race goings-on, that he would not be speaking or commenting on the end of the race incidents, but did send out his opinion on Berry via Twitter following the race.
— Lee Pulliam (@LeePulliam11) April 24, 2015
Following the race, NASCAR issued the following statement:
“NASCAR is gathering information from the post-race incidents on the track and in the pits, and any decision made on penalties will be announced early next week.”
At the end of the day, Peters reminded what the intention for the event is despite all of the sore tempers.
“We are here to have a good time,” Peters said. “Denny has a great foundation. It’s awesome he supports that and it’s awesome that he started this deal eight years ago, and how cool it is to have it be at South Boston Speedway the last two years. Anybody can sit here and be upset, but look at the fans that were here tonight. How great is that for the area? At one point with less than five to go the top four were side by side. It’s good short track racing. My heart is just beating talking about it. This is where we all came from. This is where we all cut our teeth.
“It’s kind of a bucket list deal,” continued Peters. “I can check the box on that now that we won the eighth annual Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown. Everybody is here for one thing, and that’s that beautiful trophy.”
-By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Correspondent – Twitter: @Aaron_Creed
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown Results
1 1 17 Timothy Peters 210
2 9 91 William Byron 210
3 36 56 Mark Wertz 210
4 19 27 Tommy Lemons Jr. 210
5 18 58 Tyler Ankrum 210
6 3 12 Austin Thaxton 210
7 16 61 Dalton Sargeant 210
8 21 51 Kaz Grala 210
9 27 03 Brenden Queen 210
10 4 5 Lee Pulliam 210
11 29 18 Quin Houff 210
12 8 83 Matt Bowling 210
13 31 25 Hermie Sadler 210
14 32 55 Curtis Markham 210
15 6 23 Payton Ryan 208
16 13 77 David Ragan 207
17 33 88 Josh Berry 210
18 10 10 Nick Smith 202
19 12 40 C.E. Falk 201
20 2 99 Peyton Sellers 193
21 14 6 Bobby McCarty 192
22 7 9 Chase Elliott 192
23 35 57 Eddie Johnson 124
24 17 73 Bruce Anderson 124
25 30 7 Dude Gibbs 124
26 25 42 Kyle Plott 120
27 26 71 Juan Garcia 119
28 28 4 Jeb Burton 117
29 20 2 Myatt Snider 99
30 11 0 Matt Waltz 81
31 5 11 Denny Hamlin 69
32 34 06 Davin Scites 63
33 23 19 Chad Finchum 45
34 15 72 Garrett Campbell 9
35 22 21 Travis Swaim 3
36 24 41 Brayton Haws 3
– By Aaron Creed, Speed51.com Pennsylvania/Central New York Editor – Twitter: @aaron_creed
– Photo credits: Speed51.com