DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — It took nearly a perfect weekend, but former national champion Lee Pulliam reclaimed the top spot in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
The Semora, North Carolina, driver finished first and third in the asphalt Late Model division features Saturday night at South Boston (Virginia) Speedway, and then came back to take both Late Model features Sunday at Caraway Speedway in Sophia, North Carolina.
The victories pushed his win total to 25 in 44 races, and his Division I championship points to 684.
Pulliam surged past Thomas Tillison Jr. as he chases his third national title.
The 41-year-old Tillison from Wellston, Oklahoma, races in the dirt modified divisions in his home state at Salina Highbanks Speedway and Flint Creek Speedway in West Siloam, and both tracks were off for the Labor Day weekend.
Tillison has 14 wins, 22 top fives and 22 top 10s in 26 starts. He is also leading the Jostens Rookie of the Year national standings as a first-year Division I license holder.
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.
The Whelen All-American Series points season will run through Sunday, Sept. 20.
Pulliam’s win total matches his 2014 campaign and is two less than his 2013 championship season. Since 2011, when he finished third in the national standings, Pulliam has won 117 of 205 Late Model starts in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee.
With two weekends left, the top five is far from settled as 16 points separate second from fifth.
Jimmy Zacharias moved into third with a sweep of asphalt Modified events in upstate New York. The 24-year-old from Candor, New York, won the Yuengling Light Modified 100 at Holland Speedway after original winner Andy Nye was disqualified in post-race technical inspection. Nye’s appeal is still pending and Zacharias could be dropped to second if the DQ is overturned. Zacharias picked up maximum points Sunday by winning from a 10th-place starting spot at Chemung Speedrome.
Zacharias has 15 wins, 26 top fives and 27 top 10s in 27 starts for 670 points.
Taylor Holdaway saw his momentum slowed with a second and a fifth in twin Late Model features at Ontario’s Sunset Speedway. The 24 year-old Orillia, Ontario, drive had moved all the way up to second with seven wins in eight races in August. He has 11 wins, 20 top fives and 20 top 10s in 21 starts.
Connecticut’s Keith Rocco broke a summer slump with a win in his asphalt Modified at New London-Waterford Speedbowl. It was Rocco’s first win at the track since July 4. The Wallingford, Connecticut, driver has 11 wins, 31 top fives and 38 top 10s in 43 starts at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, Stafford Motor Speedway and New London-Waterford.
With two race weekends remaining, the opportunities to improve their points total are drawing slim.
Pulliam will head to Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Virginia, for twin 75-lap features Saturday. He is the division points leader at the .416-mile oval. South Boston also has twin 75-lap races slated for Saturday, Sept. 19. Pulliam is 31 points behind Matt Bowling in the standings there.
Tillison has four starts remaining – the next two Fridays at Flint Creek and two Saturdays at Salinas. He leads the points at Salinas and is second behind Steve Holzkamper at Flint Creek.
Of their 18 starts that count toward the championship, Pulliam has two 32-point races and three 37s that he could drop with a better finish. Tillison has four 34s.
Sunset concludes its season with a 75-lap Late Model feature Saturday. Both Holland and Chemung have finished their season, while Stafford and New London-Waterford each have two scheduled Division I races remaining.
Ryan Preece (Stafford, Thompson and New York’s Riverhead Raceway) is sixth, followed by Jacob Goede (Minnesota’s Elko Speedway), Ted Christopher (New London-Waterford, Stafford, Thompson), Bowling (South Boston, Caraway, Motor Mile and Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia), and Craig Von Dohren (Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Pennsylvania).
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 Integrated Marketing Communications Press Release. Photo credit: Speed51.com