Pulliam Fastest in Practice, All Eyes on Top 20 in Qualifying

Two-time ValleyStar Credit Union 300 winner Lee Pulliam finished Friday’s practice in a familiar place at Martinsville Speedway (VA), topping the charts in the three-hour session.

 

The four-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion logged a lap of 19.984 seconds around the 0.526-mile oval, setting the tone for Friday night’s qualifying session. However, the Late Model Stock veteran has his eyes set on simply locking into tomorrow’s feature field.

 

In Friday’s single-car qualifying session, the top 20 cars will transfer directly to Saturday’s 200-lap feature, avoiding a pair of 50-lap heat races to round out the field.

 

“I think we’re pretty good. We’re working on this new car trying to get it driving better,” Pulliam told Speed51.  “We were good at the test, but not where we wanted to be.  If we can get this thing locked in the top 20, I’ll be tickled to death.”

 

Pulliam questioned if he would be able to repeat his sub-20 second lap time during the qualifying session, acknowledging the pressure that rides on drivers and teams with a Martinsville spot on the line. 

 

“That was pretty quick, but it takes a lot of pressure on driver, car, crew, everybody to run a lap like that.  I’m proud of the effort but we just want to win the big show tomorrow.  That’s the main goal.”

 

Layne Riggs finished the session second-fastest, with a 20.029-second lap.  While he’s unsure how much he will be able to improve on his mock runs.

 

“I know that a lot of people are going to pick up a whole lot,” said Riggs.  “I don’t know how much we’ll pick up.  My prediction is in the low 19.90s.”

 

Pulliam’s focus on making the top 20 was a common refrain throughout the garage following the practice session.  Dustin Rumley, a veteran making his first Martinsville appearance since 2014, echoed that thought after finishing fifth in practice.

 

“It’s all about qualifying in that top 20 so you don’t have to do the heat races tomorrow.  That’s the main thing, get a good, solid run and get in that top 20 so we can work on our race trim.”

 

Craig Moore, eighth-fastest in the session, admitted he’d love a shot at the payday for setting fast time in qualifying but was more focused on avoiding Saturday’s heat races.

 

“We just want to make the top 20.  Sure, we’d love to get the pole and the $5,000, but right now we just want the top 20.”

 

Friday’s qualifying session will not be short on drama, with cars competing in single-car runs to claim one of those coveted spots under the lights at Martinsville Speedway.  It’s a sensation three-time NWAAS Tennessee State Champion Kres VanDyke struggles to describe.

 

“This place is ecstatic at night time with the LED lighting,” said VanDyke.  “It’s a hell of a job by the Speedway.  It’s hard to find the words to pick to describe what it’s like to be on this track when it is like that.

 

Live updates from the qualifying session will be available at Speed51’s Trackside Now coverage, presented by FK Rod Ends.  Click here to follow the live updates.

 

Practice Results

 

Pos. # Driver Fast Lap
1 5P Lee Pulilam 19.984
2 99 Layne Riggs 20.029
3 26 Peyton Sellers 20.042
4 88 Josh Berry 20.095
5 88R Dustin Rumley 20.127
6 22 Bobby McCarty 20.133
7 9 Trey Crews 20.149
8 1 Jamie York 20.155
9 12S Sammy Smith 20.158
10 27 Tommy Lemons 20.170
11 15 Kres VanDyke 20.185
12 01 Jake Crum 20.200
13 12P Timothy Peters 20.208
14 98 Bubba Pollard 20.221
15 2N Trevor Noles 20.224
16 21 Travis Swaim 20.226
17 17G Taylor Gray 20.228
18 03 Brenden Queen 20.235
19 87 Mike Looney 20.236
20 18Y Jason York 20.243
21 5C Dexter Canipe, Jr. 20.246
22 77 Trevor Ward 20.256
23 57 Justin Carroll 20.260
24 12W Ryan Wilson 20.273
25 2 Brandon Pierce 20.273
26 40 C.E. Falk III 20.280
27 41 Jamey Caudill 20.292
28 30 Brennan Poole 20.317
29 16 Chad McCumbee 20.324
30 11O Jeff Oakley 20.327
31 4F Jonathan Findley 20.328
32 24 Colin Garrett 20.337
33 17C Brandon Clements 20.341
34 2M Matt Leicht 20.344
35 81 Zack Clifton 20.351
36 4D Kyle Dudley 20.356
37 95 Jacob Heafner 20.386
37 73 Bruce Anderson 20.386
39 17P Stacy Puryear 20.400
40 61H Justin Hicks 20.403
41 01G Camden Gullie 20.404
42 6D Mike Darne 20.406
43 32H Nik Williams 20.410
44 25L Kevin Leicht 20.430
45 07 Chase Dixon 20.481
46 06 Davin Scites 20.486
47 12C Annabeth Crum 20.491
48 63 Tyler Matthews 20.503
49 25D Derrick Lancaster 20.519
50 28 Jason Barnes 20.522
51 15M Ryan Millington 20.527
52 11W Lucas Williams 20.528
53 12T Austin Thaxton 20.560
54 35 Steve Zacharias 20.566
55 6M B.J. Mackey 20.571
56 22C Grayson Cullather 20.575
57 01W G.R. Waldrop 20.582
58 21W Jimmy Wallace 20.606
59 2W Matt Waltz 20.663
60 92 Kyle Southern 20.681
61 7 Dylan Ward 20.746
62 22E Eric Winslow 20.803
63 36 Owen Smith 20.816
64 1S James Sweeney 20.827
65 2L Amber Lynn 20.930
66 18G Bobby Gillespie 20.968
67 1C Daryn Cockram 21.288
68 4VA Mack Tatum 21.583

 

-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans

-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo

 

 

Pulliam Fastest in Practice, All Eyes on Top 20 in Qualifying