Brandon Pierce scored an emotional victory on Saturday at Southern National Motorsports Park, executing a last-lap bump-and-run on Josh Berry to take the win. The win proved a fruitful start to his working relationship with Late Model Stock veteran Lee Pulliam after joining forces with the four-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion in the offseason.
Monday on Speed51’s ‘The Morning Bullring,’ Pierce discussed how pivotal and instrumental Pulliam has been in Pierce’s development already in their brief time together.
“So far it’s been incredible,” Pierce told host Bob Dillner. “Lee Pulliam and his guys are some of the best in short track racing. All the knowledge and everything he’s been able to provide me, everything I’ve been able to learn. We’ve had to build quite a bit of chemistry in a short amount of time, and I think that helped us this past weekend.
“I am extremely blessed to have the opportunity to team up with Lee and further my career, become a better racer all-around, understand the cars better, be a better driver, just the whole aspect of everything,” Pierce added. “He’s been able to teach me so much, and I’m really looking forward to the relationship continuing to grow and continuing to learn.”
Pierce’s win adds to a growing portfolio of recent success at Lee Pulliam Performance. Jessica Dana was a three-time winner at South Boston Speedway last year in the Limited Sportsman division driving for Pulliam, including a win in the 75-lap Limited Sportsman feature that accompanies the South Boston 200. In the Late Model Stock world, Corey Heim tallied runner-up finishes in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway and the Myrtle Beach 400 in Lee Pulliam Performance entries.
That success gave the team momentum entering 2019 with Pierce, something that gave Pulliam plenty of optimism entering the partnership.
“I was excited to get the opportunity to team up with Brandon,” Pulliam told Speed51. “I felt like we could do big things together. We’ve been working really hard, building new cars. We had some success with Corey Heim late last year, it just kind of kept the momentum going into this year. Brandon had a lot of confidence driving the car. He just did everything right the other night and ended up in victory lane.”
Pulliam believes both his successes and shortcomings during an extensive and prolific racing career have helped him accelerate the development process for his drivers.
“I guess I’m a mentor, crew chief, car owner, lot of different titles,” Pulliam explained. “I’ve got a lot of wins, a lot of laps, and have learned lessons the hard way. For me, my job is to teach these guys and drivers to speed up the process, teach them some of the lessons I learned without having to go through it.”
With that said, Pulliam knows it takes the whole package to finish in victory lane. Pulliam spoke highly of Pierce’s desire to learn and develop in order to compete for wins.
“As a teacher, you can’t make your students want to learn,” Pulliam stated. “You’ve got to have a desire, and Brandon has got that desire. He’s passionate about being better and becoming the best. I think that’s a big part of it. I’m really excited about it. We stepped right up to the plate, hit a solo home run. Hopefully we can do it again at Hickory.”
Pierce credits Pulliam for simplifying the learning process and helping him understand what to look for in a race car.
“Even in our short time together, I’ve learned so much about understanding the feels of the car,” Pierce explained. “Being able to understand my balance, what I’m feeling, what the reaction from the car is to what I’m feeling. He’s been able to simplify things and help me be better at processing everything and explaining what I’m feeling so they can adjust the car. They were able to do a fantastic job of that this weekend.”
Pulliam takes great pleasure and joy in being a part of milestone wins such as Pierce’s Saturday in Lucama, North Carolina. He remembers how special his first win was, and he knows how meaningful it can be for his drivers.
“I enjoy winning, period,” Pulliam said. “I don’t want to become numb to it when you have success, but it’s nothing like, for me, I know the satisfaction Brandon must have felt getting his first CARS Tour win. I know the satisfaction Jessica [Dana] must have felt getting her first win. All the drivers we’ve worked with and won with, for me, it’s cool because I remember that moment for the first one.
“It’s a special moment, it’s a big moment in their careers, and it’s a big moment for me,” Pulliam added. “I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in this stuff. When you see something you built performing for someone else driving, that’s a special feeling. None of us could do this without good race cars and race drivers. You take a total package and create special moments. I get pretty dadgum excited when my driver’s going to victory lane.”
With a motivated driver in Pierce and a mastermind in Pulliam combining forces, the Late Model Stock world has been put on notice. Whether you throw them a fastball down the middle or a curveball off the plate, they’re ready to knock it out of the park in 2019.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo