Lee Pulliam set the fastest time of Friday practice for the CARS Response Energy Late Model Stock Tour at Bristol Motor Speedway, setting the tone for Saturday’s 100-lap Late Model Stock feature event at the Short Track U.S. Nationals.
Pulliam posted the fast time in final practice, at 15.395 seconds around the high-banked half-mile. The four-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion was also second-fastest in the first practice session of the day, trailing only Josh Berry.
“I feel pretty good about it,” Pulliam told Speed51.com about the practice day. “We were really good here last week [at the open test]. We worked on a few things we thought could be better. We feel pretty good about it.”
“Several good cars here,” Pulliam said. “Josh Berry is good, too. We’ve just got to be smart and hopefully keep it towards the front. Have a good qualifying run, and maybe we’ll win this thing. It will take some luck, there are a lot of really fast race cars here. I’m just thankful to Eddie Kiker and Travis Kiker for giving me the opportunity to build and maintain their race cars.”
When the first practice ended, Sam Mayer was displayed as fastest in the session at 15.395 seconds, with Josh Berry third behind Pulliam. It turned out that wasn’t quite the case.
“Actually, we had our transponders backwards,” said Berry, Mayer’s teammate at JR Motorsports. “We put the wrong one on the wrong car. Either way, we’re both top three. Lee’s really close, I think. We had a good test last week, so we felt good coming here. We are just kind of fine-tuning it, trying to stay on top of the track. It’s going to change a whole lot.”
Deac McCaskill was fast in last season’s Short Track U.S. Nationals, but his race ended early with a mechanical failure. McCaskill jumped from 12th to third on the charts between the two practice sessions, but it was not without a brief scare.
“We had last year’s race tires on the first practice, just shaking the car down,” McCaskill said. “We put on stickers and on our mock-up run we broke a left-rear shock mount. That was a little scary feeling going into [turn] one. I had to come in and get another mount stuck on it.
“We’ve got some good speed, need a little bit more,” McCaskill added. “We just need some late-center rotation with the car. We were pretty good last year, just had a crazy thing happen with the driveshaft. We’ve got a pretty good set-up, I feel like. A little tweaking here or there, and I think we’ll be okay.”
The No. 2 entered for Myatt Snider was fifth-fastest in the opening practice session of the day. However, Snider was not driving the car, as he was in Charlotte for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event Friday evening. Instead, Jared Fryar shook down the car, already in town to compete in the Super Late Model portion of the Short Track U.S. Nationals.
Fryar couldn’t help but joke that, after finishing second to Snider in the inaugural Late Model Stock feature at the Short Track U.S. Nationals, he was the one tabbed to fill Myatt’s seat on practice day.
“Jeff Caudill called me and needed someone to fill in since [Myatt]’s running the truck race,” Fryar said. “I was already planning on coming since I’m running the Super [Late Model] race, so it worked out. We ran second to him last year, so I guess he felt comfortable with me driving the car.”
Fryar added he can take some of the information gained today and translate it to his Super Late Model later this weekend.
“When we came to test, it wasn’t as hot, the sun wasn’t out, it was overcast,” Fryar said. “This gives me a good read of what the track will do tomorrow if it’s hot and the sun’s out.”
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-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor - Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / MoJo Photos