Conservation Pays Off with Late Model Victory at Myrtle Beach
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. -– Lee Pulliam passed Brian Vause in the closing laps to win the 2nd Annual IceBreaker at Myrtle Beach Speedway on Saturday afternoon.
Pulliam, who had been fast all weekend, kicked off the afternoon by sitting on the pole for the 125-lap race. Once the green flag dropped, Chad McCumbee, who started second, took the lead away from Pulliam. Early on, Pulliam began to save his tires, and as a result, he fell outside of the top-five.
“You can’t run this whole race hard,” Pulliam said. “You’ve got to save tires, and those guys went really hard there at the beginning. I just tried to be smart and make my run at the end. I lost the Myrtle Beach 400 with 15 to go. I run my car too hard, and those guys flew by me right at the end, and that one really hurt to lose, so I really had to think about it and think about planning my move and just timed it right.”
Local favorite Brian Vause finished second at his home track. J.D. Smith was third, followed by Justin Johnson and Tommy Lemons Jr.
With the win, Pulliam, a three-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion, locked in a position in the fall Myrtle Beach 400.
But he had to work for it.
As the laps began to tick away, fans began to get a good indication on who was going to battle for the victory. For a while, it was Johnson and Brian Vause, a Georgetown, South Carolina native, battling hard and exchanging the lead. Each lap, one driver would just barely eke across the line ahead of the other.
“I thought that we had saved enough,” Vause said. “I saw that Justin was getting pretty free, so I figured if I could get to his outside and kind of hold him down. I knew it was inevitable that Lee was going to come, so if I could just get side-by-side with Justin to create a blockade maybe for everybody behind us and still saving some while I was beside him.”
With just 30 laps to go, the battle for the lead intensified, when Lemons, Pulliam and Chad McCumbee joined Vause and Johnson. On lap 106, Pulliam dove to the bottom of Johnson and Vause in Turn 1 to challenge for the lead. The drivers continued three-wide down the backstretch and into Turn 3. Vause was in front when the three drivers exited Turn 4, but Pulliam took over the front spot on lap 109 and never looked back to claim his first IceBreaker victory.
“We had a great car all weekend, just tried to ride there at the beginning of the race,” Pulliam said. “We weren’t perfect in the race by no means. The car was just not quite where it needed to be, but we just saved tires. Those guys checked out by seven or eight seconds there. I made my run there at the end, I was able to catch them, and I had to race hard. I knew Tommy and Justin were trying to team up and win that deal out of the shop and Brian, he was doing all that he could do to win the race, and I had to get a little aggressive and make it three-wide. Actually, we got four-wide I guess the first time.
“It was just a great show for the fans. All of us beat-and-banged and was able to hold onto it and take it home.
Jeremy McDowell finished sixth, followed by BJ Mackey, Luke Sorrow, Chad McCumbee and Brandon Grosso.
The first caution of the afternoon came out on lap 29, when Jerry Miracle and Thad Moffitt got together in the exit of Turn 2. Miracle was able to continue, but Moffitt went hard into the outside wall. On the restart, it was Johnson and Lemons leading the field down to the green flag. McCumbee quickly moved into the second position, and he began to challenge Johnson for the race lead.
On lap 36, the second caution came out, when Colby Howard and Mackey tangled in Turn 2. Colby sustained minor right front damage, but Mackey backed into the outside wall. With nowhere to go, Robert Powell also got caught up in the accident. All three cars were able to continue following the accident. Johnson and Lemons Jr. were once again on the front row, when the field took the green flag to restart the race. The two drivers raced each other hard for the next 32 laps.
The third and final caution of the race came out on lap 68. Ty Gibbs and Justin Hicks made contact while entering Turn 1. Gibbs continued, and Hicks slammed the outside wall, ending his day. The restart set the field up for a 57-lap stretch to the finish.
1.) #5 Lee Pulliam
2.) #30 Brian Vause
3.) #16S R.D. Smith
4.) #44 Justin Johnson
5.) #27 Tommy Lemons Jr.
6.) #83 Jeremy McDowell
7.) #98 BJ Mackey
8.) #9 Luke Sorrow
9.) #95 Chad McCumbee
10.) #32G Brandon Grosso
11.) #94 Jamie Weatherford
12.) #8 Tyler Hughes
13.) #02 Justin Milliken
14.) #18 Ty Gibbs
15.) #60 R.A. Brown
16.) #2 Myatt Snider
17.) #16 Colby Howard
18) #32 Jerry Miracle
19.) #44A T.J. Barron
20.) #56 Robert Powell
21.) #20 Sam Yarbrough
22.) #11 Lucas Williams
23.) #28 Ryan Glenski
24.) #5C Tyler English
25.) #61 Justin Hicks
26.) #10 Ed Williams
27.) #46 Thad Moffitt
Sources: Hunter Thomas, TheFourthTurn.com