Lee Pulliam has spent the last few seasons going away from home to compete at different tracks around the region but this season he’s returning to his roots and going after the championship at South Boston Speedway.
In 2006, Pulliam’s career began in the Limited Late Model division at South Boston. From there he began to win races and moved to the Late Model Stock Car division. From there he’s gone on to win track championships at South Boston, Motor Mile Speedway and Myrtle Beach and he’s a four-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion. Last season he competed on the CARS Tour, but this season he’s settling back into running for a single track championship at his home track.
“For me South Boston is home,” Pulliam told RACE22.com. “I started there and the local people really helped me out when I first started. My first wins, my first championship and a lot of big memories have happened there and I can’t wait to go make some more this year.”
Pulliam’s return to his roots is based on multiple reasons. He will compete for the championship in the Late Model Stock Car division but will also have multiple cars competing from his shop. He’s also hoping to avoid racing against his full-time driver Brandon Pierce, who will run the entire CARS Tour schedule this season.
“I want to take care of our clients and staying close to home helps me do that. Plus I want to minimize the number of times I compete against my cars. It’s a lot easier not traveling and if we work all day and get done and want to go test, Motor Mile is like three and a half hours and South Boston is 15 minutes away.”
Another reason Pulliam plans to compete at South Boston is to compete against the best racers running in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. He also says it’ll help his team and his cars when they go to Martinsville Speedway later in the year.
“It’ll help the whole team when we go to Martinsville by racing against those guys all year,” Pulliam continued. “The CARS Tour is a lot different and you run so much different stuff that it doesn’t help you when you get to Martinsville.”
“The CARS Tour is the best thing going. But, if you’re going to run NASCAR you want to run against the best and the best are at South Boston. You have to go race Philip (Morris) and running those races gets you more ready for Martinsville because of the rules and the officials and racing against those guys more.”
Pulliam is second on the all-time wins list (nearing 50 in a Late Model Stock Car) at South Boston Speedway but his past success hasn’t kept him and his team from working seven days a week for the last three months in anticipation of having three cars at the track for the season opener. Lee Pulliam Performance also comes into the season with a lot of momentum from how his team has been performing.
Jessica Dana scored three wins during the course of the season last year at South Boston while Jason Barnes ran up front for much of the season but was never able to break through with a Late Model Stock Car victory. Corey Heim picked up two wins in Late Model Stock Cars last fall before being disqualified for skew and ran runner up at Martinsville and Myrtle Beach in the two biggest races of the year. Brandon Pierce also won the most recent CARS Tour race at Southern National Motorsports Park this past weekend.
“We have a lot of momentum with a lot of drivers. Brandon (Pierce) beat the best of the best at Southern National. We won several races last year and had great runs with (Corey) Heim as well.”
Pulliam is ready for the challenge of racing against the likes of Philip Morris and Peyton Sellers and expects to be competitive and win his share of races.
“Philip was nearly unbeatable last year. Peyton won a couple of races and Corey won a couple of races but for the most part, he was the guy to beat every race. My goal is to make sure that doesn’t happen this year. He’s going to win races, you know that but we’re going to win ours too.”
For the first time in their careers, Morris and Pulliam come into a season expecting to compete against one another and they won’t be on the same level. Morris in his most recent return to racing has more of a show-up and drive deal with Forrest Reynolds while Pulliam still works on his own car. Pulliam thinks that both sides have their advantages but thinks his is more of an advantage.
“It’s an advantage to him to just show up and drive and not have the pressure of working on the car. He has a really good piece and he’s going to be fast but I know every piece of my car and turn the wrenches myself and I think that still matters. It’s not going to be an easy task to beat him but I’m not going to make it easy to beat me either.”
Pulliam will be behind the wheel of the familiar #5 Kiker Tree Service entry with Mincey’s Graphics and Bondurant Distillery on board this season. His return throws another driver into the mix for what should be an incredible season at one of the best short tracks in the region. On Saturday there will be three NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champions in the field with ten National titles between them. That’s something you can’t see anywhere else.