Lee Pulliam claimed his second consecutive NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (NWAAS) Late Model Stock feature win to start 2017. Pulliam was victorious Saturday in the Dogwood 300 Late Model Stock feature, taking the lead on a late restart and pulling away for the win at Southern National Motorsports Park (NC).
Tommy Lemons led for close to 50 laps until a ball joint failure removed him from the top spot on lap 106 of the 150-lap race. This opened the door for other contenders to battle for the win.
Justin Johnson led the field to the green flag on the lap 113 restart following Lemons’ misfortune, but washed up the race track into second-place runner Mason Diaz. This opened the door for Pulliam to slide into the lead, where he remained until the finish.
“Those guys had been really impatient all day,” Pulliam said about the finish. “I just tried to bide my time.
“They got to racing hard for the lead there,” Pulliam added. “Justin slid up the track a little bit and opened it to get under him. Once I was able to clear him, those guys started racing hard behind me, put a little distance between me so I could start saving tires”
Diaz and Johnson battled for the remainder of the race, with the 17-year-old Diaz taking the second spot in the final running order.
“Today was a major learning curve for me,” Diaz said. “This is my very first 150-lapper that I’ve finished. Today was a learning curve for learning all the techniques I need to learn.”
Diaz capitalized on Johnson’s misfortunate late in the race, as a lapped car held up Johnson and allowed Diaz to close a gap Johnson had built.
“A lapped car kind of pushed Justin up the track, and I went low,” Diaz said. “It helped me out and hurt Justin, but it is what it is. It’s racing.”
“I don’t know [what happened],” Johnson said about the lapped car incident. “He waved me down and then ran straight to the top of the track. Not really sure what happened there, I guess he couldn’t control it.
“The car really came in there on the long run [before the Lemons caution],” added Johnson. “I was running second and third, just pacing myself for the end, and then Tommy broke and handed the lead to us. When we went green, it wouldn’t turn for five laps.”
Diaz had several strong runs in the winter, such as a top-10 finish in the Snowflake 100 at Five Flags Speedway (FL) and a pair of top five results in the Red Eye 100 and Zack Donatti Memorial 125 at New Smyrna Speedway (FL).
Diaz attributes his strong run today to the experience gained in those performances during the “offseason.”
“Down at New Smyrna with the Super [Late Model], the more horsepower and stuff, it helped me learn how to save tires. I think that helped me here with this.”
For Pulliam, the win is his second in as many NWAAS starts in 2017. Pulliam also won the Icebreaker at Myrtle Beach Speedway. The pair of wins gives Pulliam a head of steam as he pursues his fourth career NWAAS National Championship.
“This is huge,” Pulliam said. “The momentum for the team is a good way to start the year off. Two-for-two on two totally different racetracks. It makes me real happy. It’s going to be a good year.”
Tyler Hughes and Rusty Daniels – who combined for five wins at Southern National in 2016 – rounded out the top five.
Race fans can find on-demand updates from Saturday’s Dogwood 300 by visiting Speed51.com’s Trackside Now coverage. (Click here)
|10||27||Tommy Lemons Jr|
-By Zachary Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com