The checkered flag fell on the Valley Star Credit Union 300, just under a week ago but has had wall to wall coverage of all the storylines from the biggest Late Model Stock Car race in the world. Now we take one last look back at the race.

There’s nothing else we can say about Tommy Lemons, Jr. becoming a two-time winner of the race that hasn’t already said. However the rest of the field has a lot left to say … We’ll give you a brief update on all the ones who had an interesting day.

Pulliam Isn’t Cursed
Lee Pulliam was supposed to have had a mechanical failure or a crash or something of that nature. That’s the fate that usually is handed to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion. Anthony Anders suffered a late race crash last year, Philip Morris had unexplainable engine woes, Pulliam was dumped late in the race in 2013. The National Champions curse seemed to be alive and well until Sunday when Pulliam pulled out a second place finish as the National Champion.

IMG_0498Smith Was Caught “Looking” for the Front
“Unapproved Looking” …. yeah. That’s what RD Smith was put at the tail of the field for prior to Sunday’s Valley Star Credit Union 300. It’s a bizarre ruling by the events race director that both Smith and Kaz Grala fell victim to this past weekend. Getting sent to the rear of the field for the start of this race can usually end a guys day. It’s hard to come from the rear to the front but Smith did just that making it to 7th before the lap 150 break and an invert that put him second for the restart. Smith made the most of the opportunity at the front and kept himself in position to finish third.

IMG_0555Not Much Left of the 4th Place Finisher
Timothy Peters was side by side with Tommy Lemons, Jr. coming to the finish but out of turn four he made contact with Lemons sending his own car hard into the inside wall down the front straightaway. Peters chances of winning were gone but as his car skidded out of control it crossed the finish line fourth before crossing into the path of oncoming cars. There wasn’t much of his car but Peters was safe and officially recorded a fourth place finish.

Quietly Chipping Away
Travis Swaim was never really one of the cars anyone was looking at as the car to beat or a car who could win. His race just didn’t play out that way. But the more green flag laps that were logged the better his car seemed to be. Before a couple late restarts Swaim was just inside the top ten but he slowly chipped away and picked up a fifth place finish at the end.

Fast Isn’t Always Best
Jake Crum was easily the second fastest car at the track last weekend. His FHR entry was nearly flawless and the driver was hungry. Crum flexed his muscle several times on restarts and kept his car in contention until the very end coming up short with a sixth place finish.

IMG_2217Wilson’s Top 10 Finish Helps Heal Broken Hearts
Ryan Wilson couldn’t have had a worse week leading into the Valley Star Credit Union 300. He lost his grandfather, David and the man who set his entire families love for racing in motion. Most racers would have been defeated before they got to the track, if they even went to the track at all. Wilson on the other hand planned to honor his grandfather with his run in the race. Everyone knows making this race is the hard part. Wilson did that and then avoided trouble (for the most part) and picked up a tenth place finish. It was exactly what he and his family and crew needed. To see the family and crews faces late in the race when he had put himself in a good position to get a top ten was priceless. It won’t replace his grandfather but it did help heal to heal a lot of broken hearts.

DSC_0224Ankrum Keeps his Nose Clean
Tyler Ankrum might be a young kid but he’s wise beyond his years. Not many young kids can come to Martinsville Speedway and drive a near flawless race. He finished 12th but more importantly he finished without much more than a scratch on his car. That isn’t something most young drivers can do. Ankrum had about a 10th place car and he made sure that he finished somewhere in that area which is more than his team could ever ask for.

DSC_0102The Fastest Car Rarely Wins at Martinsville
Todd Gilliland finished 24th. That was far from the story the young man wrote over the course of last weekend. We haven’t discussed the scoring issues from the event in this story but Gilliland according to everyone turned the fastest lap in qualifying … according to everyone but NASCAR. They had him qualifying 14th. He proved that to be false as he worked his way to the front of his heat race dominating it. Then he moved to the front of the field fast in the feature battling most of the day with Jake Crum.

Gilliland’s speed was shown once again after the field was inverted with 50 to go and he rocketed right back to second position before the caution waved and he got stuck in the outside lane. From there contact from other top runners sent him wide and toward the back of the pack. He recorded a 24th place finish officially but everyone knew he had the best car and without issues could have won the race going away.

IMG_0407First Timer
Patrick Coleman put himself into the field through his heat race and backed up his speed from qualifying. Coleman had never made the field but after having a “coming out” season of sorts picking up his first win at Ace Speedway over local top dogs Barry Beggarly, RD Smith and Dennis Holdren. Coleman was never a contender at Martinsville but he logged laps and finished 25th.

Old Dog, No New Tricks
Eddie Johnson might be one of the old dogs when it comes to Late Model Stock Car racing but the young guys aren’t showing him any new tricks. Getting into the field just barely, but coming home with a 26th place finish shows that just because he’s got a little age on him doesn’t mean he can’t be a threat in any race anywhere.

DSC_0193It’s Always Something
For Matt Waltz it seems as if he didn’t have bad luck, he would have no luck at all. The young driver has come into his own in recent seasons with wins at Langley Speedway and threatening to win not only the Valley Star Credit Union 300 two years ago but also being a threat in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown. This year he was all set to be one of the cars to beat but battery issues caught him laps down before the race even got underway. Waltz never got to show his hand, which by most people’s account was going to be a good one.

Feeling Good
Derrick Lancaster has seemingly found every way not to make this race but this year on his 8th try he put it in the show and had a good showing. At the end of the day his car was a little tore up but as he said. “I’ve had it torn up more and didn’t even make it. So I can still smile after this.”

IMG_2165Penthouse to the Outhouse

Brandon Butler has always been a threat at Martinsville. This year he appeared to be one of the threats to compete for the win but his day went quickly from good to bad. On Saturday he posted the fifth fastest time and looked to be strong but riding early in the race. Then Tony Keen got together with another car, spun and Butler had no where to go. The crash didn’t look major but it ended Butler’s day anyways.

Doesn’t Matter Who You Are
Philip Morris is the name most synonymous with Late Model Stock Car racing but yet his name is not in the results from last Sunday. He was there, he was attempting to make the field but problems on Saturday ended his run. Morris according to garage gossip had a mixture of engine problems and rear end problems. Either way it just goes to prove that you have to be at your best no matter how good you are because this race is only for the best of the weekend.

That’ll do it for this final look back. Sure there were other storylines, sure there are people who will say why didn’t they talk about me, but these are the stories that stuck out to me from last weekend. Let me know what I missed that stuck out to you.