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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Alone with his thoughts, Lee Pulliam will replay some of the 36 races he drove en route to the 2012 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship.
“I’m an avid outdoorsman. I’ve been deer hunting, sitting alone in a tree stand, and thought about the year,” Pulliam said. “I’ve raced a lot of those races over again in my mind. It’s amazing. I’ll sit back in awe of what’s happened.”
The title of 2012 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship now and forever belongs to Pulliam. The 24-year-old is humbled by the achievement.
“I have a lot to be thankful for,” Pulliam said. “We’ve all made sacrifices in order to go racing. My parents (Harold and Debra) did without so we could race.
“We have an all-volunteer crew. They pay their own way at the pit gate every week. They stuck with me through the ups and downs, supported me and kept me motivated. We couldn’t have contended for this championship without every single person on the team,” Pulliam said. “They worked tirelessly. They’d change shocks and springs. They’d do anything I asked on a moment’s notice. They deserve this championship.”
The driver’s parents are car owners under the Pulliam Motorsports banner. Winston Brooks of Oxford, N.C., is the crew chief while other team members include Matt Taylor, Dave Matias, Terry Powell, Leonard Warren, Ray Long and Garrett Bunch.
Although the season ended on Sept. 16, Pulliam stayed busy in the weeks that followed fulfilling media opportunities and racing.
After winning the championship he did a media tour that included being a guest on MRN Radio’s NASCAR Live with Eli Gold. He did other radio, print and electronic media interviews.
Pulliam attracted even more attention when he was the top qualifier for Martinsville (Va.) Speedway’s Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 300 on Oct. 21. Four-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion Philip Morris won the race for an event record third time, but he was chased to the finish line by Pulliam, who was a scant 0.379-second behind. Pulliam won the 2011 edition of the race.
“We came up just a little short at Martinsville this year,” Pulliam said. “We won the pole, but we couldn’t get going on the restarts at the end like Philip could.”
This year Pulliam fulfilled the potential he demonstrated by finishing third in the 2011 national point race. This year he slowly climbed up the national standings and by mid-summer he was ranked as the No. 1 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series driver in the nation. He held the spot for the last 10 weeks of the season. Pulliam compiled 22 wins, 30 top fives and 32 top 10s in 36 starts across a four-and-a-half month span.
Pulliam will be the guest of honor at the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards event. The ceremonies are scheduled for Friday, Dec. 7 at the Charlotte Convention Center’s Crown Ballroom at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
“It will be an honor to stand at the spot on stage where Philip and (2010 champion) Keith Rocco accepted their national titles. That’s when it will sink in,” Pulliam said looking ahead to banquet night.
A driver’s best 18 results through Sept. 16 counted toward their states and national point totals, and
the champions are decided on overall point total. Once a driver reaches 18 starts, their total would increase incrementally as they replace some poorer runs with better results.
Under the point structure for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, the race winner receives two points for every car in the event up to 20 cars. Second place receives two fewer points and so on through the field. Race winners receive an additional five points. For example, if 20 cars are in the field, the winner receives 45 points, second place 38 and third 36. If there are 15 cars, the winner receives 35 points, second 28 and third, 26.