LUCAMA, N.C. – Lee Pulliam looked like he was on his way to a second consecutive Thanksgiving Classic victory at Southern National Motorsports Park on Sunday evening, but a late race caution set up a wild sequence of events which ended with Tommy Lemons Jr. in victory lane.
Pulliam had dominated the late stages of the event, but was held up behind a lapped car which allowed Justin Johnson to go to his outside for the lead. Johnson spun on the exit of turn four, bringing out a caution. On the first green-white-checkered restart, Lemons got a jump on Pulliam, then Pulliam wrecked off the front bumper of Matt McCall. When the dust settled, Lemons held on for the win.
“We definitely had a really good car in the first half,” Lemons said. “Just a little tight in the second half. Stuck around long enough. Luck wasn’t on our side last weekend, luck was on our side this weekend. Kind of bittersweet from last week but it’s an awesome way to cap the year with a win here.
“Hadn’t won the Thanksgiving Classic. Always going after the big wins so awesome to get this one under our belts.”
Brenden Queen, who had been involved in an incident earlier in the race, mounted a late race charge to finish second.
“Got lucky there a little bit but we never gave up all day,” Queen said. “Put ourselves in position there to challenge them, came up one spot short. Didn’t want to spin him for the win. Just tried to move him and hopefully he would have finished second to me.”
McCall held on to finish third. The incident with Pulliam, however, brought back memories from the 2011 Late Model Stock Car race when McCall spun off Pulliam’s bumper on the last lap of the race – which Pulliam went on to win. McCall insisted the contact with Pulliam was not payback.
“He didn’t have the restart he had before,” McCall said. “All the other restarts, he cleared everybody and pulled away. He must have spun the tires or something. When we got to the flagstand, he still wasn’t going. Well, we had a green-white-checkered so we’re racing for the win and I don’t get to race often, so there was no reason not to go in there and see if I could make it happen.”
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