MARTINSVILLE, Va. (October 2, 2010) – Lee Pulliam continued his meteoric journey in racing Saturday afternoon by winning the pole for Sunday’s Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300 at Martinsville Speedway.
Four years ago Pulliam had never sat in a race car, but he wanted to be a racer. He fast-tracked his way through high school so he could finish a year early and go to work to save enough money to buy an entry-level race car.
Saturday the 22-year-old driver from Semora, NC, topped 84 other drivers, including three former national champions and several higher division drivers to start up front for the biggest, most prestigious Late Model Stock Car race in the country.
“It’s pretty emotional,” Pulliam said. “We’ve come a long way in a very short time and I’ve got to thank a lot of people for their help. It started with nothing four years ago. The Lord has given me a great path.”
Pulliam won five times this season at South Boston Speedway in just his second year in Late Model competition. He had the fastest car in two open test sessions at Martinsville over the past two weeks, and admitted because of that there was pressure headed into Saturday’s time trials. He came through with flying colors, though.
He turned in a lap of 20.272 seconds (93.410 mph) around the .526-mile oval to edge three-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series champion Philip Morris. Morris, who won this event in 2000, had a lap of 20.310 seconds (93.235 mph).
Even after winning the pole, Pulliam was still a bit awed by his surroundings.
“It definitely says a lot when you call Timothy Peters’ name and Dennis Setzer,” Pulliam said, referring to a pair of drivers who compete regularly on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and who both have won this race and a truck series race at Martinsville. “Those guys are wheelmen. They’ve got a lot of laps around this place. A few years ago all of them were role models to me.”
Brandon McReynolds of Mooresville, NC, who finished second in this race last year, qualified third, followed by Ryan Robertson of Winston-Salem, NC, and Mike Looney of Catawba.
Peters was sixth fastest, with last year’s third-place finisher Brennan Poole of The Woodlands, TX, seventh. Davin Scites, last year’s pole-sitter from Davidson, NC qualified eighth with Setzer ninth and former race winner Alex Yontz 10.
Only the top 22 positions were decided in time trials Saturday. The remainder of the 42-car field will be decided in four 25-lap heat races that begin at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
Fan gates open at 9 a.m. on Sunday, with an autograph session on the track’s frontstrech set for 11:30 a.m.
Tickets are $20 for adults with children 12 and under admitted free. Tickets may be purchased by calling 877.RACE.TIX or by visiting www.martinsvillespeedway.com.