Pulliam Takes Aim At Martinsville

Pulliam Takes Aim At Martinsville

National Champ’s Next Goal: Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 300

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The newly crowned NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion has one more mighty goal on his 2013 racing calendar – a victory at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

Lee Pulliam, coming off his second straight NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship, will compete in the post-season Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 300 for NASCAR Late Models at Martinsville on Oct. 6. Eighty-seven cars were on hand for a test session on Sept. 25.

The race day includes four 20-lap qualifying races, a 20-lap last chance race, and the 42-car, 200-lap main event. Practice is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 5. 

“We’ve been testing our car for Martinsville at Motor Mile,” Pulliam said. “We’re experimenting, just trying to find that little bit extra in the car.”

A constant goal-setter, Pulliam, who won the Martinsville event in 2011, is on a quest.

“The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion hasn’t won Martinsville in their championship year,” Pulliam said. “We’d like to win it as national champions. It’s the race everybody wants to win.”

Five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champions have won the fall classic at Martinsville.

Four-time national champion (2006, 2008-09, 2011) Philip Morris of Ruckersville, Va., is the defending champion of the Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 300 with Pulliam in second. Morris also won in 2010 and 2000. Barry Beggarly of Pelham, N.C., the series’ 1993 national champion, has three Martinsville late model wins prior to the modern era autumn event. Dexter Canipe of Claremont, N.C., the 1997 national champion, won the 300 in 1998 and the 1988 national champion, Robert Powell of Moncks Corner, S.C., took the checkered flag in 1999.

The race has a lot of history and prestige. The winner receives the traditional Martinsville grandfather clock in addition to the winner’s share of the purse.

Pulliam, 25, of Semora, N.C., never mentioned prize money in discussing his desire to win at Martinsville next month.

“We want to try to get another (grandfather) clock,” Pulliam said. “Standing on the winner’s stage with that clock is what made Martinsville my biggest win.”

“For late model drivers, Martinsville is our Daytona 500,” Pulliam said. “Everybody wants to win it.”

Lia Dominating In Stafford Win

Lia Dominating In Stafford Win

First Whelen Modified Tour Win In Over A Year

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STAFFORD, Conn. – Donny Lia flexed his muscle in dominating fashion on Sunday at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.

The two-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion started from the pole and handled all challenges with apparent ease by outdistancing Doug Coby to the finish line by 3.231 seconds to win the CARQUEST Fall Final 150. The win was his first on the tour since Aug. 9 of last year at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway.

The Jericho, N.Y., driver now has 17 career wins. Sunday was his fourth at Stafford and second in the Fall Final.

Rowan Pennink finished third with Todd Szegedy and Justin Bonsignore trailing in fourth and fifth, respectively. Mike Stefanik, Ted Christopher, Chuck Hossfeld, Bobby Santos and Ron Silk rounded out the top 10.

Ryan Preece carried a 41-point lead over Coby into the race and had an opportunity to clinch his first Whelen Modified Tour title, but after a 17th-place finish due to a late-race mechanical failure, he still has work to do in the season finale. His advantage over Coby is now 26 points.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour closes out the 2013 campaign on Sunday, Oct. 20 with the Sunoco World Series 150 presented by Xtra Mart at Thompson (Conn.) Speedway.



Donny Lia taking the checkered flag in the CARQUEST Fall Final. Darren McCollester/Getty Images for NASCAR

What Does Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Have to Do to Win?

Though the last pit stop for Dale Earnhardt, Jr. went like clock work, taking four tires and fuel, it wasn’t enough to reel Johnson in.

When four tires and fuel went into Dale, Jr’s car on the last pit stop of the race, he looked to be the lead dog to win the AAA 400 at Dover, at least to all of the Jr. Nation.

There is no doubt in my mind that they, myself included, were all holding their collective breath to see if the stop would be clean. It was.

He had one of the best cars he’s been given this year, he started from the pole and he ran upfront all day long. He appeared to have a dominant car.

His only miscue came on lap 119 when he missed the commitment cone sending him back around which cost him valuable track position.

It may not seem that such an incident would cost him the race but in fact, for those casual fans who follow the sport, it put him in a defensive position. He worked his way right back up to the front but to no avail. When things go wrong, he doesn’t handle them very well.

Jimmie Johnson, on the other hand, handles problems throughout a race with surgical precision. He rarely stumbles and if he does, he recovers more often than not to press on.

It’s Johnson’s 8th win at ‘The Monster Mile’ and once he’s in control, he’s almost like watching a perfectly executed football game. His team runs like a clock. A very well made clock.

Once Johnson had the upper hand it was a constant battle for everyone else to keep him in sight. In fact, it was only Dale, Jr. that did by finishing the race one-half second behind. Earnhardt, even with four tires and 26 laps to do it, just couldn’t close the gap.

Johnson’s 8th win at Dover and a boost for his 6th title attempt.

According to Johnson, “Two (tires) worked good for us in practice,” Johnson said. “And believe me, I wanted to see four tires line up in the fourth or fifth row. When they lined up right behind me, I thought I was going to have my hands full. And I really did. Junior drove a whale of a race, and track position really gave me the advantage I needed to hold him off.”

In any race such as this the drivers are all setting up for that last run, most expecting a green/white checker. It didn’t come and a 26 lap green flag run to the finish didn’t help Dale, Jr. at all.

“Yeah, if you really look at the race as a whole, they did cost us a little bit, at least the mistake I made missing pit road completely. We had the lead, gave up the lead. Jimmie had the lead and was able to take advantage of that clean air when it counted.

“If I had not given up that track position, had a smart enough race to keep the lead when it counted right at the end, we might have won the race. It would have been hard to get by us, just like it was (hard) to get by Jimmie.

“I think missing the commitment cone was a big factor in us not finishing one spot ahead of where we are. But the other pit stop wasn’t that big a deal. I came on pit road about as hard as I could. The 14, Mark, was running maybe five, 10 miles an hour slow in the first couple of (pit road timing) segments. I don’t know that cost us a ton of time.”

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is the face of NASCAR. Whether he wins ever again is irrelevant to his fan base, which is loyal to the death. The fact that he’s performing better is always a sign for hope.

In this writers’ opinion, despite being his own man, the relentless decade-long comparisons to his father are ongoing reminders of his father’s death and put a very big hole in his heart-and perhaps his thinking.

Dale, Jr. won’t win the Championship, but it’s good to see him performing at a higher level than in the past. What does he have to do to win? Exactly what he’s doing right now.

Finally, It’s never safe to make predictions three races into the Chase run, but with Johnson so close to Matt Kenseth and ahead of Kyle Busch, it looks like a three man run to the end.




Vilarino Rolls To Seventh Victory

Vilarino Rolls To Seventh Victory

Defending Whelen Euro Champ Picks Up Monza Win

MONZA, ITALY – Ander Vilariño returned to Victory Lane and moved a step closer to a second straight NASCAR Whelen Euro Series championship.

The 33-year-old Spanish driver picked up his seventh win of the season in the first Elite Division race at Autodromo di Monza as the series’ playoffs opened at the 5.793 kilometer (3.599 mile) course north of Milan.

Vilariño (#2 TFT – Banco Santander) had won the first six races of the season before challenger Frederic Gabillon swept the events on the Tours Speedway oval. Saturday’s win allowed Vilariño to push his lead back to 38 points.

Vilariño won the pole Saturday, but Gabillon (#5 Rapido Racing by Still) was able to get by him on Lap 5 with a clean pass on the end of the straightaway. However, Vilariño took the lead away several laps later with an identical lead and never relinquished the lead.

“Since the beginning of the weekend I have been fighting a cold, so this race has been hard physically,” said Vilariño. “This is my seventh win of the season, still 3 races to go so I hope to win another ones.”

Gabillon settled for second. Yann Zimmer (#33 OverDrive) finished third and was the top driver in the junior class.

Romain Iannetta (#1 RDV Compétition – McDonald’s) rallied from eighth to take the fourth, while Anthony Gandon (#7 TFT – E. Leclerc) rounded out the top five.

Max Papis (#19 Max Papis Racing) – making his third series start – finished sixth.

Willy Boucenna (#17 Pole Position 81) was seventh, followed by Anthony Garbarino (#3 TFT – Alpes Carrelage), Davide Amaduzzi (#68 T-Engineering) and the newcomer in the series, Stefano Gabellini (#55 CAAL Racing).

The Challenger Trophy was won by Guillaume Rousseau (#13 Bull Racing Team), who finished eleventh, ahead of Bruno Cosin (#55 Pole Position 81) and Stephane Jaggi (#22 OverDrive – Moser Vernet).

OPEN DIVISION: Gandon Wins, Takes Poinst Lead

Anthony Gandon (No. 7 TFT – E. Leclerc) led from start to finish in the Open Division race to take over the points lead.

Josh Burdon (No. 18 Scorpus Racing / Forza Motorsport), who led the standings since the first round of the season at Nogaro, was forced to retire after only 5 laps after a contact at the first chicane with Luciano Linossi.

“It is nice to win at Monza on a mythical track,” Gandon said. “I am sorry for Josh because I know he had to retire but it is good for my championship.”

Guillaume Rousseau (No. 13 Bull Racing Team) finished second, followed by Luigi Moccia (No. 19 Max Papis Racing), Joaquin Gabarron (No. 5 Rapido Racing by Still), Linossi (#33 OverDrive).

Linsossi was the top Gentleman Driver, while Léonard Vernet (#22 OverDrive – Moser Vernet) took  the win in the Legend Trophy.



Ander Vilariño rolled to his seventh win of the season Saturday at Autodromo di Monza in the semifinal round of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series championship. NASCAR Whelen Euro Series

Pursley A Winner In Albuquerque

Pursley A Winner In Albuquerque

Veteran Driver Notches Third Win Of 2013

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Greg Pursley spoiled Derek Thorn’s quest for two consecutive NASCAR K&N Pro Series West wins at NAPA Speedway, taking the victory in the NAPA Auto Parts 150 presented by NAPA AutoCare Centers on Saturday night.

Pursley, the 2011 series champion, now sets his sights on spoiling Thorn’s quest for a series title. 

Saturday’s victory marked Pursley’s fourth win of the season and 17th career series victory. With the win, the driver of the No. 26 Gene Price Motorsports/Star Nursery/Real Water Ford moved from third in points to second – 20 markers behind Thorn, with three races remaining.

In an event in which nearly all the leaders opted to fall back early in the event, Pursley dropped from the front to just inside the top 10 and Thorn faded back to ride in fourth. Their strategy opened the door for others to move to the front – with series veteran Carl Harr leading 51 laps and series newcomer JD White pacing six circuits.

Pursley appeared to start his charge forward just past the midway point of the race. He was up to seventh by Lap 85, fourth by Lap 100, third by Lap 116 and into second a lap after that. Using a strong inside move on the 128th lap he was able to charge by Thorn, who had won the Coors Light Pole earlier in the day.

“This is a really abrasive track and it really takes a lot of patience and a lot of tire saving,” Pursley said. “So we got up there and led a lap and fell back to about eighth or ninth. It was hard to have the patience to not go up there and want to race them, but we stuck to our game plan and stuck to our times.

“We started getting a little bit more and little bit more to the front,” he said. “Once we got to the front, we figured we could stay up there and maintain. We had about a 10-lap run there at the end and let ‘er go. All in all it was a great night.”

Pursley pulled away after a late race restart and won by a margin of 1.317 seconds.

Thorn had to settle for second.

“We all kind of dropped back quite a ways, trying to save our stuff,” Thorn said. “This place is so abrasive. So we all slowed down. It was kind of a chess match there, wondering what Pursley had, what (Eric) Holmes had. We made a decision to go and try to lead a few laps, thinking I could get the most laps led (bonus point). I saved my stuff while doing it, but Pursley just had a little better car than we did at the end. It’s one of those days where we made the most of it and come home second in a good points race.”

Pursley’s teammate at Gene Price Motorsports, Cameron Hayley, finished third. Eric Holmes, making his 100th career series start, was fourth – with Michael Self taking fifth. Tyler Cuzick, Dylan Lupton, Chase Briscoe, Carl Harr and John Wood completed the top 10. 

Thorn leads the standings with 510 points, followed by Pursley at 490, Hayley at 489, Self at 481 and Lupton at 440. Rounding out the top 10 are Cuzick at 398, C. Harr at 394, Daryl Harr at 375, Giles Thornton at 363 and Wood at 358.

The next event on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule is the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif., on Oct. 12.


greg-pursley_races_derek-thorn_nknps-west_albuquerque_092813_700.jpgGreg Pursley’s victory on Saturday night moves the veteran into second place in the point standings with three races to go in the 2013 season. J. Victor Decolongon III/Getty Images for NASCAR

Seuss Makes It Two In A Row At Caraway

Seuss Makes It Two In A Row At Caraway

Records Eighth Career Win At Track

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ASHEBORO, N.C. – Andy Seuss found himself in familiar territory on Saturday night – Victory Lane at Caraway Speedway.

Nearly three weeks after winning at the .455-mile oval for the first time since Oct. 2011, Seuss was right back there after winning the Zooland 150. It was the Hampstead, N.H., driver’s eighth win at the track and the 14th of his tour career which gives him sole possession of second place on the all-time wins list.

“We definitely have it going in the right direction right now,” said Seuss. “We were just being patient early on and set ourselves up for the end.”

After starting from the second position Seuss took the lead from pole sitter Burt Myers on Lap 63.

“He was working pretty hard to keep that pace and our car was going pretty well,” said Seuss. “I just waited for an opportunity to pass him clean.”

Seuss’ No. 11 Tammie Davis/Phoenix Pre-Owned Chevrolet had everything it needed following the halfway break.

“The guys have the halfway adjustments figured out right now,” he said. “They get it dialed in and it has whatever I need.”

Second-place finisher George Brunnhoelzl III – the career leader with 20 Southern Modified victories – extended his lead in the point standings to 30 over Kyle Ebersole with just two races remaining. Brunnhoelzl was right there with Seuss, who led a race-high 88 laps, down the stretch, but could never mount a solid challenge for the lead. Brunnhoelzl is looking for his third straight tour title and fourth overall.

“Our car was good tonight, but just not as good as Andy’s,” said Brunnhoelzl. “We’ll just march on to the next one, get to Victory Lane and see what’s left.”

John Smith matched his season-best finish of third, which he recorded his last time out at Caraway on Sept. 8, en route to his fourth straight top-five finish.

“We’ve really gained on this place,” Smith said. “The guys have worked hard on this car and I can’t thank them enough. We’ll head over to Southern National and see what we have, but we’ve gained a lot over the last several weeks.”

J.R. Bertuccio and Jason Myers finished in fourth and fifth, respectively, while Danny Bohn, Bryan Dauzat, Burt Myers, Gary Putnam and Mike Norman completed the top 10.

Earlier in the day, Burt Myers won his second consecutive Coors Light Pole Award and 26th of his career to extend his career mark in that category.

The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour returns to the track Saturday, Oct. 5 for the G-Oil 150 at Southern National Raceway Park in Kenly, N.C., to make up a race that was postponed due to weather on Sept. 21.



Andy Seuss (11) battled George Brunnhoelzl III en route to his Zooland 150 victory. Garry Eller/NASCAR

Joey Logano dominates for fourth straight Nationwide win at Dover

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Rookie Hill Conquers Monster Mile

Rookie Hill Conquers Monster Mile

Kwasniewski’s K&N Pro East Points Lead Sliced To 5 Over Moffitt

DOVER, Del. – Austin Hill faced the Monster Mile and didn’t blink.

The 19-year-old from Winston, Ga., conquered the high-banked mile oval in the Drive Sober 150 presented by Delaware Office of Highway Safety Friday afternoon. It was Hill’s first win in his seventh career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East start.

The race also featured a huge points swing. Dylan Kwasniewski, whose lead was 40 two races ago, was sidelined early by electrical issues. He returned to the track and finished 48 laps down in 29th. His nearest challenger, Brett Moffitt, finished 11th to slice Kwasniewski’s lead to just five heading into the finale at Road Atlanta on Friday, Oct. 18.

Hill led a parade of rookies who captured the top three spots and six of the top eight.

Justin Boston finished second and Kyle Benjamin third. Boston, 24, was making his second series start while Benjamin, 15, was making his debut.

Brandon McReynolds and Jesse Little were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Hill took the lead on Lap 88 from CJ Faison, who led a race-high 77 laps, and led the rest of the way. He held off a charge from Boston and Benjamin following a late-race restart to win by .412 seconds. His previous best finish was seventh at Richmond in April.

Daniel Suarez was sixth, followed by rookies Brandon Jones and Trey Hutchens. Austin Dyne and Dylan Presnell rounded out the top 10.

The Drive Sober 150 will air on Fox Sports 1 on Sunday, Oct. 13 at noon. It will also replay on Monday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m.



Austin Hill (13) races side-by-side with Kyle Benjamin in the closing laps of the Drive Sober 150 at Dover International Speedway Friday. Getty Images for NASCAR

QUALIFYING: Conley On Coors Pole At Dover

QUALIFYING: Conley On Coors Pole At Dover

Delaware’s Faison also on front row for K&N Pro East race

DOVER, Del. – Cale Conley earned his third career Coors Light Pole Award in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Friday afternoon in qualifying for the Drive Sober 150 at Dover International Speedway.

Delaware native C.J. Faison will join Conley on the front row for the race, which is scheduled to take the green flag Friday at 4:45 p.m.

Conley won the pole with a lap of 23.227 seconds (154.992 mph) around the high-banked mile oval. Faison had a lap of 23.254 (154.812).

Kyle Benjamin, making his series debut, qualified third at 23.285 (154.606). Rookies occupied spots three through seven, with Benjamin followed by Jesse Little, Cole Custer, Austin Hill and Gray Gaulding.

Two-time race winner Brett Moffitt qualified eighth. Moffitt enters the race – the second-to-last on the 2013 schedule – 23 points behind leader Dylan Kwasniewski. Kwasniewski qualified 11th.

Eddie MacDonald and rookie Ben Rhoders were ninth and 10th, respectively.


PRACTICE: Custer Speeds To Top

PRACTICE: Custer Speeds To Top

2-Time K&N Pro East Winner Fastest At Dover

DOVER, Del. – Rookie Cole Custer used a late run to post the fastest time Thursday over the two NASCAR K&N Pro Series East practice sessions at Dover International Speedway.

The 15-year-old Custer, who won earlier this season at Iowa Speedway and last week at New Hampshire International Speedway, had a time of 23.526 seconds around the high-banked mile for a speed of 153.022 mph. It came in the 37th of 38 laps he ran in the second 1 hour, 10 minute session for Friday’s Drive Sober 150.

Fellow rookie Austin Hill was second fastest at 23.739 (151.649).

Delaware native C.J. Faison was fastest in the first practice with a lap of 23.768 (151.464), which was good for third overall.

Gray Gaulding and points leader Dylan Kwasniewski were fourth and fifth, respectively. Twelve of the top 13 times were posted in the second session.

Kennedy was sixth overall, followed by Kyle Benjamin, Justin Boston, Ben Rhodes and Matt Tifft. Benjamin is making his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East debut.

Kwasniewski enters the weekend – the second-to-last race of the season – with a 23-point lead over Brett Moffitt. Moffitt, a two-time winner at Dover, was 18th fastest in first practice and 27th in second.

Qualifying for the Drive Sober 150 will be 10 a.m. Friday, with the green flag at 4:45 p.m.


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