With his win in Saturday night’s Hampton Heat 200, Lee Pulliam has now won three of the four ‘majors’ in Late Model Stock Car racing and has his sights set firmly on completing the ‘Grand Slam’ in November.
Prior to Pulliam’s victory in Saturday night’s Hampton Heat 200 at Langley Speedway, only two drivers had won three of the four crowned jewel events in Late Model Stock Car racing. Those drivers are Late Model greats Jamey Caudill and Frank Deiny, Jr.
“It’s pretty special for everyone here at the shop and sends out a statement that our whole team works really hard to be successful at not just one or two tracks but everywhere we go,” Pulliam said. “I put in as much hours in the shop as anybody in Late Model Stock Car racing. That’s where it’s at. Hard work each and every week to make it happen.”
His victory in the Hampton Heat 200 was impressive in its own right. The track is very different than most of the tracks Pulliam has raced at having very little banking.
“You know, I didn’t know what to expect when we went there the first time,” Pulliam explained. “We ran second to Greg Edwards first time, were competitive. That’s for me just another racetrack trying to figure out the cart than figuring out the track. I’ve been to a lot of different places and can tell what I need to do as a driver. It’s a matter of fine tuning the car where it needs to be that’s the main thing.”
Pulliam scored his first ‘major’ win in the Valley Star Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway back in 2011 with a last lap bump-and-run pass on two-time UARA-STARS champion Matt McCall. He has since backed that win up with a victory in the UNOH Battle at the Beach at Myrtle Beach Speedway in his first ever start in the race back in 2013. He again won at Martinsville last season when he got past Peyton Sellers during a Green-White-Checkered finish.
While he has now won three of the four majors, there is one race that has continued to elude the veteran racer from Semora, North Carolina. As hard as it is to believe, Pulliam has never won the Thanksgiving All-Star Classic at Southern National Motorsports Park. In 2012, he was swept up in an accident triggered by Austin Wayne Self. In 2013, his dominant performance came up short when he lost the lead by virtue of a late race bump-and-run from Ronnie Bassett, Jr. And in 2014, Pulliam again had the car to beat but transmission problems halfway through the race ended his day.
“I sure hope it’s my year,” Pulliam stated. “We’ve had a good shot to win every year we run it. We got wrecked by lapped car one year, had a Green-White-Checkerd come out when we had it won the next and had transmission failure leading the race last year. One thing after another. We just keep missing out on it. Hopefully our luck will turn in that race and we can finish it off.”
Pulliam knows that, if he is to win the Thanksgiving All-Star Classic in November, he will become the first driver to complete the ‘Grand Slam’.
“It would be pretty special for sure,” Pulliam commented. “We’ve won a lot of races at Kenly. It’s a cool place to race at. You can really race hard there. I think it would be special to be in that list by myself as someone who won all four of them.”
Pulliam has more than made his make in Late Model Stock Car racing already, even if he is not to complete the ‘Grand Slam’. Along with his win in three of the marquee events in Late Model racing, Pulliam has racked up over 115 wins, two NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championships and track championships at both South Boston Speedway and Motor Mile Speedway.
Pulliam knows the history of Late Model Stock Car racing and he respects those who have also scored major accomplishments before him. While he hopes to complete the ‘Grand Slam’ in November, he feels honored just to be in the same company as Jamey Caudill and Frank Deiny, Jr. in winning three of the crowned jewel races.
Caudill won at Martinsville in 2003, Myrtle Beach in 2008 and won the Thanksgiving Classic in 2003 and 2004. Deiny won the Thanksgiving Classic in 2000, the Martinsville race in 2002 and has scored four wins in the Battle at the Beach (2004, 2006, 2006 and 2010). However, neither Caudill nor Deiny have attempted to run in the Hampton Heat 200 which is the youngest of the four majors. The first Hampton Heat 200 was run back in 2008.
“It means a lot to me personally,” Pulliam remarked. “Sitting in the stands as a kid watching Jamey Caudill and Frank Deiny racing growing up, I just wanted the opportunity to race and my family worked hard to give me the opportunity to get a Limited Sportsman car. Several people started chipping in. To join two guys who won three majors, pretty unbelievable really. I’ve been blessed to do what I love and I love what I do.”