With finishes of second and seventh at Larry King Law’s Langley Speedway (VA), Lee Pulliam unofficially clinched the 2017 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championship Saturday night.
“I feel pretty good about number four,” Pulliam told Speed51.com powered by JEGS after the twin-66 lappers. “It’s been a blessing. God has blessed me immensely with a beautiful family and an awesome race team, a great business, great customers. I’m just really proud of how far we’ve come.”
It was not the banner night Pulliam hoped to close out the season. The car, which has been ailing since a race at Southern National Motorsports Park in August, struggled throughout the afternoon and evening at the Hampton, Virginia facility.
“We struggled here today,” Pulliam admitted. “We took a lick ago a few weeks ago at Kenly. We hit a piece of lead, and it did quite a bit of damage. The car just hasn’t been the same since then. It probably needs a front clip.
“We’ve just been so busy,” Pulliam continued. “We’ve been trying to race everywhere, and we’ve got Martinsville coming up. It’s been really tough on me and my guys. It’s pretty exhausting. We never could get it where we wanted.”
While the car wasn’t where Pulliam wanted it, it was good enough to secure a National Championship, the fourth of Pulliam’s career. He edged out California’s Trevor Huddleston, who had battled back and forth with Pulliam in the national standings throughout 2017.
“We’ve had a great year. [Huddleston]’s had a great year,” Pulliam said. “It’s been close all the way to the end. I’ve had so much support from so many racers. So much respect from a lot of these guys.”
The first race on Saturday evening at Langley was a struggle, as Pulliam started ninth in the field. Pulliam ultimately finished seventh, thanks in part to a mechanical issue for Connor Hall.
That mechanical issue proved to be both a blessing and a curse for both Pulliam and Hall. Pulliam’s seventh-place finish placed him on the front row for the second feature after an eight-car invert. Hall missed out on the invert, forcing him to start at the rear of the field.
Pulliam jumped out to the early lead, which he maintained while calamity swarmed around him, including one massive incident involving Hall, Matthew Waltz, Cameron Bowen, and Thomas Marks. Hall rebounded from the incident and utilized the fresher tires from falling out of the first race early to work through the field and take the win.
“We made some adjustments for the second race,” Pulliam said. “It was faster. We led most of it. We finally lost the lead there at the end. I think Connor had pretty fresh tires since he fell out of the first race. We just couldn’t hold him off. We were hoping we’d get number 20 to finish the year out.”
Race fans can find Trackside Now coverage of Saturday’s races at Langley by clicking here.
-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
Langley Speedway Unofficial Results
September 16, 2017