MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – Using the same mental game that won him the Icebreaker in February, Lee Pulliam completed a late-race charge to the front to win Saturday’s 75-lap NASCAR Whelen All-American Series late model feature at Myrtle Beach Speedway.
The event was part of the Performance Plus 300 at the .536-mile oval, featuring the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour as the headline division.
Pulliam was eighth at the halfway point of the caution-free affair, but made his presence known in the second half, dispatching cars one at a time as he moved into contention.
He passed Jeremy McDowell to move into the top five with 30 laps left, and then followed polesitter Brian Vause around Chad McCumbee two laps later to inherit the fourth position.
It took him four more laps to put Justin Milliken away for the podium seat in third, but the true test came with 19 to go, when Pulliam had to work Vause over for two laps on the inside groove before taking the runner-up spot away.
From there, he set out to erase a 2.1 second deficit to race leader Sam Yarbrough, and in just five laps had cut the gap in half as he charged forward on saved tires.
Pulliam had closed to within half a second with 12 laps to go, and made the winning move on the inside of turn one with nine circuits left, leading the remaining distance to secure his second-straight late model win at the facility.
“The 20 car (Yarbrough) was really starting to distance himself from the field,” Pulliam explained in victory lane. “I didn’t want to go that early, but I felt like he was doing a smart job and we ran caution free. It worked out for me, though. I got to him in time and I guess passed him with (nine) to go.”
Pulliam added that he did have some concern about whether Yarbrough had saved enough of his own tires to be able to hold the No. 5 Kiker Motorsports entry at bay in the final laps.
“I was a little bit worried about it,” he admitted. “I was riding in eighth and the guys up front (were) racing so hard … I was just trying to utilize the track with what my car was doing. He just started getting loose off the corner and otherwise he was really good. If he didn’t get loose off, I don’t think I would have caught him.”
The event now marks two consecutive races that Pulliam has won at Myrtle Beach with a late-race pass due to tire conservation.
However, he said that no two events of that style are the same from a strategic standpoint.
“It’s just part of being a driver. No race ever plays out the same with how hard you ride or when you decide to go. It changes every green flag run or every race. If you do the same thing every time, I guarantee you you’re not going to win a lot of races.”
Yarbrough held on to finish second, followed by Vause, Milliken and McDowell.
Lucas Williams, Jerry Miracle, Matt Cox, Haley Moody and T.J. Barron completed the top 10 finishers.
Full race results can be viewed on the next page…