MARTINSVILLE, Va. – official release — Two of the favorites for Sunday’s MDCU 300 at Martinsville Speedway proved exactly why they have been cast in that role during qualifying for the most prestigious NASCAR Late Model Stock Car race in the nation.
Peyton Sellers and Lee Pulliam turned in near-identical times in Saturday’s group qualifying, with Sellers edging Pulliam by just over five one-thousands of a second to capture the pole. Sellers had a time of 20.234 seconds around the .526-mile oval to top Pulliam’s time of 20.239 seconds.
It was a doubly-rewarding effort for the duo; in addition to starting first and second in Sunday’s 200-lap feature race, they advance without having to compete in one of the qualifying races that begin at noon.
“With the competition level here at Martinsville, it’s a huge feather in my cap to qualify on the pole,” said Sellers, the 2005 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion. “We qualified third last year, so it gives us confidence in our team that we’re fast again.”
Pulliam, like Sellers, was ecstatic with his qualifying effort.
“Anytime you can start on the front row at Martinsville, it’s not nearly so frustrating (in the race),” said Pulliam, a two-time national champion. “Being able to sit out the heat races … I’m looking forward to it. I think the best two cars are going to be on the front row.”
Tommy Lemons Jr., the MDCU 300 defending champion, was third fastest in qualifying at 20.306 seconds, followed by Dillon Bassett and Kaz Grala. Lemons, Bassett and Grala will each start first in one of Sunday’s heat races.
The top-10 finishers in each of the three heat races will advance to Sunday’s feature, along with the top 10 in the last-chance race.
The first heat race begins at 12 p.m. while the 200-lap feature will begin after the last-chance race, at about 3 p.m.
Pulliam won this event in 2011 and has a good understanding of what it will take to win Sunday’s MDCU 300.
“I’m really excited about tomorrow, but we have to be there at the end,” said Pulliam. “We’ve got to be patient, got to keep the car in one piece. You just have to stay around good cars. One of the benefits of being out front is that you’re around good cars that you’ve raced with.”