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National champion Pulliam scores at BMS

Jeff Birchfield • Updated May 20, 2018 at 9:01 AM

BRISTOL — Lee Pulliam can now add a Bristol Motor Speedway victory to his racing resume.

The four-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion won Saturday's rain-shortened CARS Late Model Stock feature at the Rusty Wallace Automotive Group Short Track U.S. Nationals.

Pulliam, a 30-year-old from Alton, Va., drove his No. 5 Chevrolet past the No. 2 Chevy of defending race winner Myatt Snider and then held off the No. 99 Ford of Layne Riggs, the son of former NASCAR Cup Series driver Scott Riggs, as the race was called after 64 of its scheduled 100 laps for weather.

He talked about the history of BMS and watching the races as a boy.

"To win here, I can't describe it," he said. "I grew up idolizing all the race car drivers who raced here, Dale Earnhardt specifically, and one of his coolest wins was when he moved Terry Labonte. The fans went crazy, one of the times you heard 90 percent of them boo Earnhardt, but that was such a cool memory for me as a kid. To drive my car to victory lane tonight, that was incredible."

Pulliam announced in February he was retiring from full-time racing with plans to run only the 12 races in the CARS Late Model Stock tour. But this one was on his bucket list, especially after he crashed out of a NASCAR K&N Series race in his last appearance at BMS.

"I really wanted this thing bad. It was the one thing I hadn't checked off my list," Pulliam said. "I won twice at Martinsville, but Bristol, I got in a wreck with a lapped car in the K&N race the last time I was here and hadn't been back in four years. I had something to prove when I came back here. It was more self-rewarding than anything to be able to tame it."

Ty Gibbs, the grandson of NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs, finished fourth in the No. 18 Toyota, and Josh Berry, driving the No. 88 Chevrolet owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished fifth.

LOCAL ENTRIES

Joey Trent of Gray finished 17th after completing 59 laps in the No. 26 Chevrolet. He talked about the differences of 60 laps at Bristol compared to the 60-lap features he normally races at Kingsport Speedway.

"It's not in the same universe," Trent said. "The 60 laps we ran here feels like 250 laps at Kingsport. It is absolutely exhausting."

Kingsport driver Austin Peters wrecked in qualifying and his crew repaired the body work on his No. 66 Chevrolet before the race. He talked about the reason for the accident.

"The whole time we tested, we ran old tires from last year," Peters said. "When we qualified is the first time we ran stickers (tires) and they were a little slicker than I thought. I was trying to dig as deep as I could and the next thing I know, I went around."

He had an electrical problem at the start of the race, which he said was solved by jiggling a couple of wires. He ran some laps with the top-10 cars, but when the next caution came out, the car stalled out again and he parked it for a 23rd-place finish out of the 24 cars.

OTHER RACES

In preliminary races, Kyle Purvis of Marion, Ohio, won a 50-lap feature for the iCar Modified Series and Illinois driver Ricky Wilson won a race for the Vore's Compact Touring Series.

The third day of the Short Track U.S. Nationals takes place today with the Super Late Models as the featured division. There will be practice and qualifying with racing to follow at 2 p.m.

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