MARTINSVILLE, VA – Veteran racer Stacy Puryear scored the pole for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 on Friday night, locking himself into Saturday’s feature event along with Tommy Lemons, Jr.
Puryear laid down a 20.100-second lap in Friday night’s qualifying session, outqualifying a competitive field of over 70 cars. After qualifying, Puryear said the pole is one of the highlights of his career to date.
“This has got to be one of the greatest days in my racing career,” Puryear said. “It’s just an awesome feeling to sit on the pole here with the caliber of competition and all the history here at Martinsville Speedway. All the praise and honor be to the Lord Jesus Christ. Still in shock. We had a good car last year, learned a lot and transferred it over this year.”
Earlier on Friday, Puryear said he felt he had a fast car, and hoped he could qualify top-two so he did not have to run in a heat race, but he was not expecting to score the pole.
“I’m still amazed and very thankful,” Puryear remarked. “I knew we had a good racecar; didn’t think we had a pole winning car. I was trying to work on longer runs and stay on older tires and when it started to get dark, we really went to work on this thing and worked the guys to death. They deserve this.”
Tommy Lemons, Jr. qualified second, also locking himself into the feature race. The qualifying run comes on the heels of a subpar season for Lemons which started with him nearly missing the field for the CARS Response Energy Tour’s season opener at Tri-County Motor Speedway. Lemons, a two-time winner of the ValleyStar Credit Union 300, has not won a race in 2018, but his last win at Martinsville came in 2015 – another subpar regular season for Lemons.
“We definitely have had an off year for our standards,” Lemons said. “We put our head down the past month and a half, dug in and tried to figure out everything we could. Coming here, you’ve got to bring your best game. Hopefully it will all work out tomorrow.”
With the race format being changed to allow drivers to take tires at either lap 100 or lap 180, Lemons feels track position will be more important than in the past.
“I think this year is actually going to be more of an advantage with the way they’re going to play the tire game and leave it up to the teams,” Lemons stated. “We don’t have to worry about halfway or waiting until lap 180 to put tires on or whatever we decide to do.”
Philip Morris qualified in third, Bobby McCarty in fourth and Josh Berry in fifth. Matt Bowling, Todd Gilliland, Brandon Pierce, Mike Darne and Lee Pulliam rounded out the top-10 unofficially.
Heat races for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 will get underway at 3pm. The 200-lap feature, which will be broadcast live on FansChoice.TV and MRN Radio, will get underway at 8pm.