A solid crowd for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 was treated to a masterclass of Late Model efficiency on Saturday evening when Josh Berry led wire-to-wire to bring home his first grandfather clock from Martinsville Speedway.
While Berry was pulling away with the win, another battle was brewing behind him for a crucial second place finish that ultimately belonged the Lee Pulliam, who held off Timothy Peters and Peyton Sellers to secure the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown.
“It’s the second time we’ve won this deal, so this is pretty awesome,” Pulliam said. “It puts a little bit of healing on the wounds. I’ve finished second in this race five times, but we didn’t have a race-winning car tonight. He had the whole field covered and everyone else was racing for second.”
Pulliam was in contention for the Virginia Triple Crown from the very first race at South Boston Speedway, as he found himself in a heated battle with Sellers during the final ten laps, but could not make the move that he needed to get by him for the win.
The rivalry between the pair continued into the Hampton Heat at Langley Speedway, but neither driver had much to celebrate at the end of the evening, as Sellers would get sent to the rear of the field after getting into the back of Pulliam, which prompted a retaliation from Pulliam a few laps later.
Despite their poor showings, both Pulliam and Sellers remained the frontrunners for the Virginia Triple Crown heading into the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 alongside Timothy Peters, but Sellers would have the opening edge on the other two after qualifying in the fourth position.
Sellers succeeded in staying in front of his competition for a majority of the 200-lap Late Model feature, but his consistency on the track forced Pulliam and Peters to make charges late in the race as the field dwindled in size and became more spread out.
One last restart would prove to be the turning point in the fight for the Virginia Triple Crown, as Pulliam took advantage of a miscue from Sellers that knocked him out of the groove, and succeeded in edging Peters to the line for second place to secure a $7,000 paycheck.
“I knew in the back of my mind that [Sellers] was the one I was racing against,” Pulliam said. “I didn’t know that I had won it until they told me that I had won by one position. I was racing for all I had. I gave that run a lot of heart, and I wasn’t going to give up.”
Pulliam stated that the only way he could have defeated Berry on Saturday was to bump him out of the way and spin him, but he had no intention of trying such a maneuver on him, and is more focused on improving his team’s performance out on the track.
Pulliam plans to celebrate his Virginia Triple Crown victory and move forward with his program, but he admitted that he is ready to take a long break over the winter months so that he can come back in 2020 ready to battle Berry, Sellers, Peters and others for more victories.
“This is probably going to be it for us,” Pulliam said. “It’s been a long year for me, and I’m trying to get our stuff ready for next year. We’re really good, but we weren’t Josh Berry-good tonight, so we’ve got some work to do, and just come back and win more races.”
Pulliam will turn his attention towards Brandon Pierce and his final Late Model starts of the 2019 season, with one of them being the CARS LMSC Tour season finale in the AutosByNelson.com 250 at South Boston Speedway on Nov. 2.