SOUTH BOSTON, VA — Former NASCAR Whelen All American Series national champion Lee Pulliam of Alton, Virginia continued his recent domination of South Boston Speedway Saturday night, winning the 100-lap NASCAR Late Model Stock Car Division race that headlined the NASCAR Late Model 100 racing program.
The win was Pulliam’s fourth straight win at the .4-mile oval and his sixth win of the season at South Boston Speedway.
A restart with four laps to go set up one of the most intense late-race sprints of the season, with Pulliam taking the lead on the last lap and edging defending track champion and former NASCAR national champion Peyton Sellers of Danville, Virginia by a car length or .272-second at the finish.
Thomas Scott of Efland held the lead heading into the final lap, only to be edged out by Sellers by a few feet and having to settle for third place. Austin Thaxton of South Boston, Virginia and Daniel Silvestri of Great Falls, Virginia rounded out the top five finishers.
The win marked a great recovery by Pulliam who spun with 15 laps to go in the race after contact from Trey Crews as they battled for the lead on a restart. Pulliam restarted the race from the fifth spot while Crews was penalized by track NASCAR officials and forced to restart the race from the back of the field.
Pulliam quickly made his way to the front of the field, taking advantage of two late caution periods, one on lap 95 and one on lap 97, to position himself for a run at the win.
Scott held the lead on the final restart, only to be shuffled back to third place on the final lap as Pulliam muscled his way into the lead and Sellers followed to capture the runner-up spot.
The race featured five lead changes among three drivers with Pulliam leading the race on three occasions. Scott led 11 of the race’s last 15 laps while trying to secure what would have been his first win of the season.
IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series standout Jeroen Bleekemulen of The Netherlands competed in his first-ever oval track race and his first NASCAR race in Saturday night’s 100-lap race.
Bleekemulen, who was at nearby Virginia International Raceway over the weekend to compete in Sunday’s Michelin GT Challenge for Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports, finished 15th after being sidelined after 22 laps. He had posted the 10th-fastest time among 16 drivers in qualifying for the race.
Six caution periods punctuated the 100-lap race.
Moss and Willis split Limited Sportsman division twinbill
Daniel Moss of Danville, Virginia and Danny Willis Jr. of South Boston, Virginia split wins in Saturday night’s pair of 25-lap Limited Sportsman Division races.
Moss started on the pole and scored a flag-to-flag win in the opener, edging Willis by about a car length or .246-second to take the win. The win was the fifth victory of the season for Moss.
Drew Dawson of Nathalie, Virginia, Kenny Daniel of Sutherlin, Virginia and Landon Pembelton of Amelia, Virginia completed the top five finishers.
Willis started third in the nightcap as the top four finishers of the first race were inverted for the start of the nightcap, took the lead from Daniel on the seventh lap and won the race by a 1.446-second margin over Dawson who recorded his best finish of the season. The win was the sixth of the season for Willis who leads the division points chase.
Moss finished third with Pembelton and Daniel completing the top five finishers.
Crews tops field in Pure Stock division
Nathan Crews of Long Island, Virginia started at the rear of the field, took the lead from Randy Hupp of Halifax, Virginia with nine laps to go and sped to victory in the 30-lap Budweiser Pure Stock Division race.
The win was the eighth of the season for Crews, who leads the division points chase.
Hupp, Bruce Mayo of Halifax, Virginia, Scott Phillips of Halifax, Virginia and Jimmy Wade of Halifax, Virginia rounded out the top five finishers in the race that saw the lead swap hands three times among four drivers.
Layne wins Budweiser Hornets division race
Steven Layne of Nathalie, Virginia scored a flag-to-flag win in Saturday night’s 15-lap Budweiser Hornets Division race.
The win was the fourth of the season for the first-year driver.
Josh Dawson of Halifax, Virginia took the runner-up spot with Kevin Currin of Chase City, Virginia, Tyler Stanley of South Boston, Virginia and Andrea Ruotolo-Sarnataro rounded out the top five finishers.
Rice, Dye Take Wins In Southern Ground Pounders Series Race
Jimmy Rice of Gibsonville, North Carolina won the 20-lap race for the regional touring Southern Ground Pounders series and took the Sportsman Division win in the process.
Rodney Dye of Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina took top honors in the Modified Division.
Young Daniel Silvestri happy to call South Boston Speedway his racing home these days
In a matter of just a few months Daniel Silvestri has gone from knowing almost nothing about South Boston Speedway to calling it his racing home.
Silvestri, who begins his junior year of high school next week, had heard of South Boston Speedway while making a name for himself in Bandolero and Legends cars, but that was about the extent of the Northern Virginia native’s knowledge of the historic track.
“South Boston had never been on my radar, primarily because of where I lived and where I raced,” Silvestri said. “I knew the track and I knew their big races, but I never had any connections with the track. When the opportunity opened up, I said ‘guess we’re going to South Boston.’
“I’m always open to new challenges and tracks. It’s been a new environment to get used to. It has been an awesome experience. I feel like I’m getting comfortable.”
Silvestri’s comfort zone is obvious from the results. In 11 starts this season he has six top-five finishes and eight top-10 finishes with a second on April 2 his best finish to date.
What makes all those strong runs even more impressive is that this is his first season in a full-bodied stock car. This time a year ago he was running for a Legends Car championship at Southside Speedway.
“We felt like if we were going to do this, were going to spend the money, we felt like we were ready for Late Model,” said Silvestri. “The Legends cars are small, but they have a lot of power. The Late Model is all about handling. They are a lot bigger (than Legends cars) but as far as the power and being able to drive it, if you have a Legends car figured out, you can get in (a Late Model) and do pretty good.
“I had the confidence that I could do it. I wanted to give it a shot, and race with the big boys.”
Once Daniel and his dad and mom, Brian and Jennisse Silvestri, had made the decision to make the big leap in 2019, the next chore was to find a car. They landed on a Late Model owned by Sellers-Burton Racing, a partnership between NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Jeb Burton and H.C. and Peyton Sellers, owners of Sellers Racing.
“When we started looking into this, if we were going to do it, we were going to do it right,” said Silvestri, who gets sponsorship help from W.G. Speeks, Becajun Bojangles and D.C. Capital Management. “Then this deal opened with Jeb and the Sellers and it was a great fit.”
With Sellers Racing preparing the car, Burton serving as a driver coach and Jeremy Ratliff calling the shots from the pits, Silvestri has been able to make a quick adjustment to Late Models, which are larger and heavier than anything he had driven in the past.
“The biggest thing is trying to get the handling right on the race car,” he said. “I’ve proven I can run a fast lap, but to go out and run 100 fast laps has been a challenge. I’m trying to work on the language to the crew chief, to be a better driver, cleaner driver, to be consistent and not burn up the tires. I’m used to 25-lap sprint races, so that’s been the biggest thing.”
As confident as he was entering the season, Silvestri says he’s even been surprised at his success.
“There have been some surprises as how competitive we were so quickly. You never know when you hop into something new how competitive you’re going to be,” said Silvestri. “I was definitely surprised as some of the really early success we had. Our goal at the start of the year was to finish all of the races. Now the goal is for a top five or top three.”
Silvestri will be gunning for another top-five finish on Saturday September 7 with the GCR Presents LS Tractor USA NASCAR Late Model Twin 75s with track championships on the line in all divisions.
In addition to twin 75-lap Late Model races there will be a 50-lap Limited Sportsman race, a 30-lap race for the Budweiser Pure Stocks and a 15-lap race for the Budweiser Hornets.
Gates open at 5:30 p.m. with the first race getting the green at 7 p.m.
Admission is $10 for adults with children 12-and-under admitted free.