It’s difficult to find the correct word to describe Lee Pulliam’s season. Tremendous would work. So would amazing. Unprecedented? Well, that also could be argued.
But one thing is certain: there have been only a small handful of drivers in the history of weekly short-track racing that ever matched the numbers Pulliam put up in 2013.
First, he backed up his 2012 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championship with another in 2013. Only two drivers – Larry Phillips and Philip Morris – had previously won back-to-back national titles in the series’ history.
The statistics Pulliam stacked up on the way to the championship are mindboggling: 27 wins, 40 top fives and 44 top 10s in 47 starts. He scored the maximum number of points possible in the national rankings, only the fourth time that has ever happened.
“We have been extremely blessed this year,” Pulliam said Friday shortly after hitting the road for another weekend of racing. “At the beginning of the season our goal was to defend the title. We won some big races. Everything clicked for us. We made some good calls off the track and we made some good calls on the race track.”
With everything he’s accomplished, he’s got one more thing on his 2013 bucket list: a second win in the Virginia is for Lovers 300 Late Model Stock race at Martinsville Speedway on October 6.
The first step in that direction for the 25-year-old Pulliam comes this Wednesday, September 25, when more than 80 cars are expected at Martinsville Speedway for the annual open test for the Virginia is For Racing Lovers 300.
How important is the day of testing? Invaluable, said Pulliam, who won the race in 2011 and finished second to Morris last fall.
“Test day means a tremendous amount. That’s the time when we can try so many different things with our car,” said Pulliam, whose car is family owned and maintained. “I feel like the test day is when we get our edge. It’s always been about race set up for me in testing. We work hard to get the car so it works good 20 laps into the race.”
Despite all the victories he’s racked up this season, the second national championship and all the acclaim that comes with it, there’s plenty of motivation for Pulliam headed back to Martinsville. First there is the money, $25,000 to win with several thousand dollars more in bonuses available. Then there’s the iconic grandfather clock trophy that goes to the winner. Sure, he’s got one, but he’d love another.
But there’s more. He has the opportunity to do what no one has ever done: become the first national champion to win the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300 in the championship year. He was one spot away last year. He wants to fix that this time around.
“It would be tremendous for us to win again … for everybody on my team,” said Pulliam. “And I would like to be the first one to break that spell, to win Martinsville and the national championship the same year.”
Cars will be on track for testing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday. The grandstands will be open to fans at no charge.
Martinsville Speedway PR