DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Lee Pulliam is accustom to seeing his name atop the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national standings. Between 2012-13, Pulliam led the way for 29 consecutive weeks as he became just the third driver to win multiple championships.
But last year, it was rival Anthony Anders’ turn at the top. The Greenville, South Carolina, driver led wire-to-wire in capturing his first national title in his final year as a full-time competitor and Pulliam came up one spot short while still taking home his fourth straight podium finish.
With the release of the first NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I points this week, however, Pulliam is back on top.
The Semora, North Carolina, driver already has six wins and 12 top fives in 13 starts. He has run his Late Model at Virginia’s South Boston Speedway, Langley Speedway in Hampton, and Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, in addition to Caraway Speedway in Sophia, North Carolina.
“We’re going to try to race week by week and find the best car counts we can,” said Pulliam, who has the early overall lead with 378 points. “We want to try to win the key races.”
Pulliam is coming off a third and a first at Langley this past weekend, just the second time he’s been to the .396-mile flat asphalt track, and first time he’s won there. The victory gave him wins at six different Whelen All-American Series tracks, in addition to his pair of wins in the Martinsville Speedway 300-lap, non-points race in October.
“This weekend was pretty special to me,” Pulliam said. “It’s a totally different race track than what we’re used to.”
The driver looking to follow in Anders’ tracks at Greenville Pickens Speedway, 2007 Late Model champion David Roberts, is second to Pulliam with 318 points. He has two wins in 17 starts between South Carolina’s Greenville, Anderson Speedway and Myrtle Beach Speedway.
Kres VanDyke is third with 306 points. He’s piled up eight wins in 14 starts between Tennessee’s Kingsport Speedway and Lonesome Pine Raceway in Coeburn, Virginia.
Ryan Preece and Keith Rocco, a pair of asphalt Modified drivers in Connecticut and perennial national championship contenders, are fourth and fifth, respectively.
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I drivers are ranked by their best 18 NASCAR points finishes in series-sanctioned events. Drivers receive two points for every car they finish ahead of – up to 18 cars – and three points for a win, with an additional two points available if the driver starts 10th or lower.
Trey Gibson (Anderson and Greenville), Wayne Hale (Kingsport and Lonesome Pine), Zeke Shell (Kingsport and Lonesome Pine), Matt Bowling (Motor Mile and South Boston), and Kyle Barnes (Kingsport and Lonesome Pine) round out the top 10.
The final four Whelen All-American Series track openings take place this weekend:
• Spencer Speedway in Williamson, New York, kicks off its 61st season Friday with the Division I Sunoco Modifieds
• New York’s Holland Motorsports Park will host its 56th Annual Opening Day presented by McKinley Mall Saturday, featuring the track’s Division I Getzoni Nationwide Insurance Pro Modifieds.
• Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough, Maine, will have its Whelen All-American Series opening night Saturday, headlined by its Division I Pro Series.
• And Autodrome St-Eustache returns to the Whelen All-American Series with its opening races on Sunday. The Late Model Sportsman are the Quebec track’s top division.
The Whelen All-American Series points season will run through Sunday, Sept. 20.
While Pulliam is focused on a third national crown, the 27-year-old is also busy getting the next generation of drivers ready with what he said is his primary goal.
Pulliam opened a new shop they built in the offseason in Alton, Virginia, that is 6,000 square feet and currently is home to seven cars. He fielded a Limited Sportsman for Julia Landauer, who became the first female to win in that division at Motor Mile earlier this month. Pulliam has operated his driver development team since 2011, and it has continued to grow. Last year, he fielded a Late Model for current NASCAR Next driver Dalton Sargeant.
“It keeps me in the shop 24/7, staying on top of stuff, building race cars,” Pulliam said. “That has really allowed me to grow my knowledge in every part of these cars.
“Going to the race track, we’re learning different stuff from different drivers. It has really helped everybody that comes out of the shop here.”
The top three in the national standings, as well as state and province champions, track champions, top finishers in the Div. II-V and special award winners, will be honored at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards in December.
Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. In all, 58 paved and dirt tracks throughout the United States and Canada participate.
Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering is the series’ title sponsor. Whelen Engineering is a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars across North America are among the many showcases for Whelen products.
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
Division I / Top 25
|1||Lee Pulliam||Langley, S Boston, Motor Mile||13||6||12||13||378|
|2||David Roberts||Myrtle, Anderson, Greenville||17||2||13||16||318|
|3||Kres Vandyke||Kingsport, L Pine||14||8||12||12||306|
|4||Ryan Preece||Thompson, Stafford, Riverhead||10||1||6||10||263|
|5||Keith Rocco||Waterford, Stafford, Thompson||8||2||7||8||262|
|6||Trey Gibson||Greenville, Anderson||15||5||11||11||247|
|7||Wayne Hale||Kingsport, L Pine||14||0||8||14||244|
|8||Zeke Shell||L Pine, Kingsport||10||1||8||9||239|
|9||Matt Bowling||Motor Mile, S Boston||9||1||6||9||219|
|10||Kyle Barnes||Kingsport, L Pine||10||0||6||10||216|
|11||Josh Berry||Hickory, Greenville, Motor Mile, S Boston||7||2||7||7||206|
|12||Brenden Queen||Langley, S Boston||10||0||5||8||204|
|13||Mark Wertz||Langley, S Boston||10||1||5||7||203|
|15||Zane Smith||New Smyrna||7||1||4||7||193|
|16||Harrison Burton||New Smyrna||7||2||5||5||192|
|19||Garrett Jones||New Smyrna||7||0||4||6||186|
|20||Craig Von Dohren||Grandview||6||1||5||5||183|
|21||Steve Wallace||New Smyrna||7||1||3||6||183|
|22||Ty Majeski||Lacrosse, New Smyrna||7||1||3||5||171|
|23||Steve Holzkamper (R)||Flint Creek, Salina||9||1||4||6||169|
-NASCAR IMC Press Release. Photo Credit: Speed51.com