At Southern National Motorsports Park Saturday night, both the local hero and the national champion shared the spotlight in the Late Model Stock division.
With a full field of competitors including the likes of Lee Pulliam and Trevor Noles on hand, Knightdale, North Carolina’s Andrew Grady scored a hometown victory in the first twin-40 lapper of the evening.
“Last week, we destroyed this race car,” Grady told Speed51.com Powered by JEGS in victory lane. “All my guys rebuilt it inside of 24 hours. We brought it back here tonight, sat on the pole, led flag-to-flag.”
“I battled Mr. Three-Time National Champion tonight,” Grady continued. “That’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”
A late restart gave Noles, Pulliam, and Jonathan Findley a final gasp at Grady, but their own battle for second allowed Grady to pull away in the closing laps.
“I wasn’t expecting to pull away from them like that. I wasn’t expecting the car to be that good.”
Pulliam fell to sixth in the closing laps of the first feature after suffering damage to the left-front of his machine. However, his team was able to fix the damage and put him in a position to win the second race of the evening.
“We made some changes between the races,” Pulliam said in victory lane. “We thought we’d have a shot to win the first race, but somebody lost a piece of lead and it went through the duct work, went through the left-side kick-out. I’m just glad nobody got hurt.
“The guys worked their butts off to get it fixed. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough.”
Noles finished second in both features on the evening, battling fiercely with Pulliam on a late restart in the second feature but coming up just short of the win. The night was his first time in a Late Model Stock car since last season’s ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway, and his first with Tommy Lemons, Jr.’s Jumpstart Motorsports team.
“All in all, it was a pretty good night,” Noles said. “Haven’t been in one of these cars since Martinsville last fall. I wish we could have gotten a win for Lemons, but you can’t hang your head on this night.”
Noles aims to spend more time in the car with Jumpstart Motorsports, with a trip to Martinsville already scheduled for the program.
“We plan on going to Martinsville with Lemons,” Noles said. “If that works out, hopefully, we’ll do some more with them. I can’t thank everyone at the shop enough for giving me a good piece tonight, just wish we could have had one more.”
Andrew Grady started eighth in the second feature after an eight-car invert but fought his way up to third place in the nightcap.
“Trevor, Lee, y’all need to come back some more, now,” Grady said during the post-race interview on the public-address system. “That was a ton of fun, boys. I hope it was fun for the fans. We just ran out of time, that’s all it was. That was fun! Let’s do it again.”
Unfortunately for Lee Pulliam in his ongoing battle with Trevor Huddleston for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championship, the win in the second feature will not count as a “full-field” victory. 18 cars started the night, but six were eliminated in a multi-car incident late in the first feature.
“Huddleston is winning a lot of races,” Pulliam said. “Tonight, we didn’t win the right one. We had car count for the first race, but the big wreck took out a lot of cars. I hate that we didn’t get as many points tonight, but we did get a win, and that’s always fun.”
September 10th marks the return of the Late Model Stock competitors to Southern National. That weekend marks the season finale for SNMP’s local divisions, with twin-40 lappers for the Late Model Stock field headlining the event.
Pos # Driver 1 1G Andrew Grady 2 2 Trevor Noles 3 4 Jonathan Findley 4 24 Mason Diaz 5 16 Rusty Daniels 6 5 Lee Pulliam 7 16B Brian Vause 8 51B Chris Chapman 9 29 Paul Williamson 10 8 Thomas Scott 11 19 Chris Burns 12 15 Matt Taylor 13 21 Gerald Benton 14 19H Brandon Hobbs 15 11 Jeff Oakley 16 50 Haley Moody 17 24B Blaise Brinkley 18 4B Jody MeasamerRace 2
Pos # Driver 1 5 Lee Pulliam 2 2 Trevor Noles 3 1G Andrew Grady 4 51B Chris Chapman 5 24 Mason Diaz 6 16 Rusty Daniels 7 4 Jonathan Findley 8 16B Brian Vause 9 19 Chris Burns 10 8 Thomas Scott 11 19H Brandon Hobbs 12 29 Paul Williamson