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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Two-time defending NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion Lee Pulliam began a busy week Monday with a visit to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s office in Richmond.
McAuliffe congratulated Pulliam on his 2013 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship. Pulliam was accompanied on the visit by Richmond International Raceway president Dennis Bickmeier.
Last season Pulliam won a second consecutive national title, the Commonwealth of Virginia championship and NASCAR late model track championships at South Boston (Va.) Speedway and Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va.
“It was a neat opportunity to meet Gov. McAuliffe,” Pulliam said, “especially since I live in Virginia now. He said he’s been in office 101 days, and he’s going to Richmond International Raceway for the first time this week. He’s looking forward to it. We talked about racing and he seemed like a really nice guy.”
Pulliam recently relocated from Semora, N.C., to family farm property in Alton, Va., where he plans to build a new race shop.
This is an exceptionally busy week for Pulliam.
Today he plans a late model test session and Motor Mile Speedway. Thursday and Friday he’ll be at Richmond for practice and qualifying leading up to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Blue Ox 100 Friday night.
Thursday night at South Boston, Pulliam’s national championship team will give a lift to 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Matt Kenseth. Kenseth is scheduled to drive a Pulliam Motorsports car in the April 24 Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown at the .4-mile paved oval. The star-studded 200-lap race benefits the Denny Hamlin Foundation. A primary beneficiary of the foundation is the Denny Hamlin Cystic Fibrosis Research Lab at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“Todd Millard gave me a call,” Pulliam said. “He’s been working with Matt back to when they were starting out in Wisconsin,” Pulliam said. “He asked if we had a car Matt could drive in the Hamlin race at South Boston. He knew we had a good program. That’s a pretty cool statement.
“I’ve never met Matt,” Pulliam said. “The closest we’ve been was racing side-by-side for awhile during last year’s showdown at Richmond.”
Pulliam said Thursday’s schedule for K&N Pro Series East practice at Richmond will prevent him from racing in the showdown. He and his late model crew chief Winston Brooks will dash between tracks to support Kenseth’s efforts at South Boston, and expect to arrive there shortly before the 8 p.m. race time.
On Saturday Pulliam moves to the Kiker Motorsports late model to compete in a pair of 75-lap features at Motor Mile. Pulliam has three late model wins so far this year including two at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, N.C., and one at South Boston.
Although he’s running the full schedule in K&N Pro Series East competition this year, Pulliam said he could still be a factor in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series point race.
“We’re planning to run 30 late model races so we should have at least a chance in the point race,” Pulliam said. “We’re going to try.”
Through his first four races as a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East rookie, Pulliam has a best finish of fifth twice at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway and the Battle At The Beach at Daytona International Speedway in February.
“We’ve been fast where ever we’ve raced,” Pulliam said. “All we need is a little bit of luck.”
Lee Pulliam in Victory Lane at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, N.C., April 12. It was his third win of the season. FrameWorks Photography