Lee Pulliam celebrates in victory lane after winning the Icebreaker at Myrtle Beach Speedway. (Andy Marquis/Race22.com photo)

Lee Pulliam Breaks the Ice in Riveting Opening Act

Lee Pulliam raced his way around the leaders with aggressive urgency to score the win in Saturday’s Icebreaker at Myrtle Beach Speedway – the opening act of the 2017 Late Model Stock Car season.

Pulliam made the pass on lap 109, getting around Brian Vause for the lead and the win and checked out after being mired in a riveting five car battle for the win which saw three wide and even four wide racing for the top spot.

“We had a great car all weekend,” Pulliam, who started on the pole in the race, said.  “We tried to ride there at the beginning of the race.  We weren’t perfect in the race by any means.  Car wasn’t quite where we needed it to be but we saved tires.  Those guys checked out by seven or eight seconds there and made my run there at the end, was able to catch them and had to race hard.”

While Pulliam made the pass on Vause for the win, his primary battle was with the Jumpstart Motorsports teammates Justin Johnson and Tommy Lemons, Jr.

“I knew Tommy and Justin were trying to team up and win that deal out of the stop and Brian was doing all he could do to win the race,” Pulliam stated.  “Had to get a little aggressive and make it three wide.  Actually, we got four wide the first time.  Just a great show for the fans.  All of us beat and banging and was able to hold on to it and take it home.”

Brian Vause methodically raced his way into the picture and was deadlocked in a seemingly perpetual battle with Justin Johnson for the lead through much of the second half of the race.  Once Pulliam got by them all, Vause had to settle.  However, finishing second to Pulliam was like a win for Vause.

“I thought I saved enough,” Vause said.  “I got up there beside Justin and was riding with him and trying to use him to keep those guys behind me because I knew Lee was saving a bunch.  When someone tried to break free, I tried to break free with them and go.  When you get beat by Lee Pulliam, that’s like a win to me.”

RD Smith spent much of the first half of the race running near the rear of the field after a less than desirable qualifying run.  However, he had saved his best for last, charging through the field in the closing laps to finish in third.

“I think the last caution, we went green on lap 68,” Smith, who was playing the tire management strategy, said.  “We were banking on hopefully inside the last 35-40 to go, we’d get a caution and we’d have a good shot sitting over where Lee is.  He had a great car but we were quite a bit faster at the end than he was or anybody for that matter.  We were just hoping for a caution that never came so we had to do it under green.  A lot of good cars and a long way to come.”

Justin Johnson ended up finishing fourth.

“I felt like I was setting a pretty good pace running on the bottom,” Johnson said.  “Racing Vause, I actually lost the brake pedal there the last 20 laps.  I don’t know if I overheated them and boiled them over or what.  I guess it was a good run.  Unfortunate, really wanted to win this thing.”

Tommy Lemons, Jr., who won the Icebreaker in 2016, finished fifth.

“We just missed a little bit,” Lemons remarked.  “That’s part of it.  Had a pretty good car there, just didn’t quite have enough there at the end.”

Jeremy McDowell finished sixth while BJ Mackey, Luke Sorrow, Chad McCumbee and Brandon Grosso rounded out the top 10.

Unofficial Results

  1. Lee Pulliam
  2. Brian Vause
  3. RD Smith
  4. Justin Johnson
  5. Tommy Lemons, Jr.
  6. Jeremy McDowell
  7. BJ Macket
  8. Luke Sorrow
  9. Chad McCumbee
  10. Brandon Grosso
  11. Jamie Weatherford
  12. Tyler Hughes
  13. Justin Milliken
  14. Ty Gibbs
  15. RA Brown
  16. Myatt Snider
  17. Colby Howard
  18. Jerry Miracle
  19. TJ Barron
  20. Robert Powell
  21. Sam Yarbrough
  22. Lucas Williams
  23. Ryan Glenski
  24. Tyler English
  25. Justin Hicks
  26. Ed Williams
  27. Thad Moffitt

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Andy Marquis