It was a $1,200.00 payback.
In racing, revenge is a sore subject. On-track altercations are never forgotten. And when it comes time for retaliation, vindictive on-track actions are never admitted.
So when Lee Pulliam intentionally forced Deac McCaskill into the turn two fence with less than five laps to go in the nightcap Shively Electric Twin 75 presented by NASH FM 107.1, no one expected the 2013 NASCAR WHELEN All-American Series National Champion to come clean about his questionable winning maneuver.
As it happened, the closing circuits of Saturday night’s 75-lap race brought closure to an incident occurring in the 2013 Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300 at Martinsville Speedway. Pulliam owed McCaskill one. The outcome was a bizarre conclusion to an electrifying ending in Motor Mile Speedway’s Bull & Bones Late Model division season opener.
A healthy field of 21 cars started the finale before an estimated attendance of 5,600— a tally that included guests of the Montgomery County Public School System through Shelor Motor Mile’s Growing the Future Program.
Catawba, Va., native Mike Looney started on the pole by virtue of an inversion following the first feature. Pulliam, after winning the opener, was relegated to eighth. McCaskill started in sixth.
In the frenzied opening circuits, a three-wide pass propelled McCaskill to the point, and following the second and final caution period of the night on lap 4, McCaskill began to distance his no. 08 from the field.
Meanwhile, Pulliam was methodically working his no. 5 into contention. By the halfway mark of the contest the Semora, NC, leadfoot had secured second, and in the succeeding laps, a spirited battle for the top spot began.
As the laps began to wane, McCaskill gravitated to the top groove of the race track, seeking to stymie Pulliam’s late-race surge. Coupled with intermingling lapped traffic, McCaskill was successfully forestalling a pass attempt. The Raleigh, NC, veteran appeared unbeatable.
With five laps left, Pulliam drove deep into turn two, burying his silver and blue Chevrolet beneath McCaskill’s Ford. The aggressive move resulted in substantial contact as the pair exited the corner, with McCaskill’s no. 08 pummeling the outside retaining wall.
“I was like, ‘Holy Cow,’” McCaskill said of the lap 70 contact. “I knew it was going to be a down-to-the-wire finish. It looked like it hurt his car more than it hurt mine, and I was able to run him back down.”
McCaskill was on the assault. As the white flag unfurled the top two were inseparable, with McCaskill frantically searching for an avenue around Pulliam’s lead machine. McCaskill plunged low in turn three, and through the corner the top two were again two abreast.
The front straightway transformed into a drag strip, with Pulliam lunging to the line first, nipping McCaskill for the win in a photo-finish by a razor-thin 0.10 margin of victory.
In the aftermath, McCaskill made his way into victory lane, ducking into Pulliam’s window for what most in attendance thought would be choice words over the on-track altercation. What transpired was far different.
“That was a class-act. [McCaskill] came over to victory lane and said, ‘Dude, you owed me.’ He could have gotten me back before I ever made it to the checkered. I gained a lot of respect for him tonight,” Pulliam said of the post-race exchange.
Why had McCaskill accepted the controversial contact?
“We’ve had problems since Martinsville. What happened at Martinsville was very out-of-character. I haven’t really talked about it; it’s something that’s really bothered me,” revealed McCaskill. “I’ve been racing Late Models for over 20 years, and I’ve never had any enemies. I’ve always been good friends with everybody…including Lee [Pulliam]. What happened at Martinsville caught everyone off guard, and I don’t have an explanation for why it happened, but it did.
“I cost him $25 grand. He cost me $1,200.00,” continued McCaskill with a chuckle. “If we do it like that, he still owes me a lot more. Hopefully we can move on from here and put on a good show.”
Recalling the thrilling finish, Pulliam didn’t mince words about the controversial climax.
“It really hurt when he wrecked me at Martinsville. That’s one that will always hurt. We raced hard tonight, and I kinda used him up to get the win,” said Pulliam.
It was a whirlwind day for Pulliam, who logged over 300 miles after competing in the Blue Ox 100 NASCAR K&N Series race at Richmond International Raceway Saturday morning. The journey ended in victory lane at MMS, collecting $2,400 for his performance in the pair of features.
But questions lingered. Without the contact, would Pulliam have taken the victory in the finale?
“Probably not,” Pulliam conceded. “I wanted to race him hard. We’ve had our differences; he’s got a few on me this way. I wanted this one bad.”
As for the revenge enacted to claim the checkers, each driver seemed oddly satisfied with the outcome. It was a nearly unprecedented, new-age reaction to an age-old racing staple.
“It never happens, actually. This is very, very rare,” Pulliam explained. “Hopefully we can move on now and race each other clean.”
McCaskill suffered a setback early Sunday morning. The no. 08 team was disqualified in post-race inspection after equipment was deemed incompliant with the rulebook. 2005 NASCAR WHELEN All-American Series national champion Peyton Sellers, who placed second to Pulliam in the first race, was credited with a runner-up finish in the second feature.
After starting on the pole in race two, Looney rounded out the podium with a third place effort.
IN OTHER DIVISIONS
Bryan Reedy captured the checkers after fending off a hard-charging Scott Lancaster through a green-white-checkered overtime finish in the Collision Plus Limited Sportsman division season opener. Karl Budzevski placed third. Official results are still pending.
After a lengthy hiatus, New River Nissan MOD-4 track champion Kevin Kenley was victorious in his return to Motor Mile Speedway, and Gary Ledbetter scored his first ever triumph at the .416-mile oval in the Carpet Factory Outlet Street Stock feature.
Scott Howell bested brother Ricky Howell, Jr. to claim the win in the 25-lap UCAR heat.