Lee Pulliam expected Hickory Motor Speedway to be the track he would struggle at the most in the CARS Response Energy Late Model Stock Tour, but he was able to come away from Hickory with a fourth place finish on Saturday night.
Pulliam qualified in 17th and was running at the tail end of the field during the first half of the 150 lap race, but in the final 50 laps, Pulliam came to life. The four-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion quickly raced his way through the field and came away with a top-five finish.
“We got off a little bit there before qualifying and made some changes there. Guys never gave up,” Pulliam told Race22.com after the race. “We kept working and making it better. There at the end, the car was pretty good. We probably didn’t have anything for Bobby [McCarty], but we probably should have finished second. I got squeezed into the wall really hard and knocked the tow off the front and the rear. Just lucky the wheels stayed up. Great job by everybody. That 22 was very fast.”
For Puliam, the finish was a statement about his team and their will. Pulliam has limited experience at Hickory with only one start at the abrasive 3/8-mile track in his illustrious career. However, he overcame.
“[Hickory] has been a weakness to me,” Pulliam explained. “I’ve raced here just one time and don’t have a lot of laps here. To come out of here with a fourth place, great points night right here. Feels like a win because I felt like this was the weakest track for me personally on the list that we go to Never give up attitude. I’ve raced a long time and got a lot of laps under my belt and know when to push it and when to ride and this worked out tonight.”
Hickory was a type of race where the cream eventually rose to the top. While Ty Gibbs, Craig Moore and Austin McDaniel spent much of the race out front, the top-five ended up consisting of eventual winner Bobby McCarty, former Hickory Motor Speedway and CARS Tour champion Josh Berry, two-time Martinsville winner Tommy Lemons, Jr., Pulliam and former CARS Tour champion Deac McCaskill.
“I mean, this is some really great races in this series,” Pulliam commented. “Great cars and great drivers. It only takes hundredths, thousandths to win these races. We were just a tick off man. If I could have turned just a smidge better, I think we could have had something.”
Pulliam will now set his sights on Bristol Motor Speedway, the next stop for the CARS Response Energy Late Model Stock Tour. The tour will head to Bristol, the fastest track on the tour, on Saturday, May 19th.