Lee Pulliam can’t win for winning.
The 23-year-old driver from Semora, N.C., picked up his track-record 13th Late Model win of the season at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., Saturday night, and still managed to lose ground to NASCAR Whelen All-American Series points leader Keith Rocco.
That’s because Rocco, the defending national champion, won his fourth straight SK Modified feature at Stafford (Conn.) International Speedway Friday. Despite having his five-race win streak at Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl the next night, Rocco’s Stafford win was the seventh straight race weekend he’s scored at least one win at the three Connecticut tracks he races weekly.
With 21 wins, Rocco matched his total from last year, and pushed his season total to 759 points. He has a 25-point lead over Pulliam – one more point than last week’s cushion.
Rocco has 30 top fives and 35 top 10s in 38 starts at Stafford, Waterford, Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway, and Monadnock Speedway in Winchester, N.H.
Pulliam has 15 wins, 20 top fives and 22 top 10s in 24 races at Motor Mile, South Boston (Va.) Speedway and Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C.
Under the points 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 bonus 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.
Rocco has 759 points to Pulliam’s 734. Phillip Morris has 720, followed by CE Falk III with 697 and Bill Leighton Jr. with 631.
A driver’s best 18 results through Sept. 18 are counted toward their state and national points totals, and the champions are decided on overall points total. Once a driver reaches 18 starts, their total increases incrementally as they replace some poorer runs with better results.
Ten of Rocco's wins have provided him the maximum 45 race-points. Morris has eight wins that were worth 45 points, while Pulliam has six.
The two drivers chasing Rocco and Falk had their race weekends washed out.
Morris of Ruckersville, Va., was leading his Late Model feature at South Boston when the rains came. Falk III of Virginia Beach, Va., never got on track as weather interrupted the race night as it just got underway.
Leighton finished second at I-80 Speedway in Omaha, Neb. He has five wins racing in the dirt Late Model divisions at Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa, I-80 Speedway, and Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb.
Burt Myers (Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C.) was sixth, followed by Nate Monteith (Motor Mile and New Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway), Frank Deiny Jr. (Caraway, Motor Mile and South Boston), Ryan Preece (Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway, Stafford and Thompson), and Brandon Davis (Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, Calif.).
Davis scored his ninth win in 14 races at Toyota.
Track, state and provincial champions and the top-three finishers in the national standings earn invitations to the 2011 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Awards Banquet at the Charlotte Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday, Dec. 9.
National Top 500 NASCAR Points Leaders
Motor Mile, Caraway, S Boston
Motor Mile, S Boston, Langley
Langley, S Boston
Adams, Junction, I-80
Motor Mile, Kingsport
Caraway, Motor Mile, S Boston
Riverhead, Stafford, Thompson
Motor Mile, Kingsport
S Boston, Langley
Albany-Saratoga, Devil's Bowl
S Boston, Old Dominion, Caraway