Twenty-four year old Lee Pulliam was the guest of honor Friday night in Charlotte when NASCAR celebrated weekly short track drivers from across North America.
Pulliam, of Semora, N.C. was officially crowned as the 2012 Whelen All-American Series National Champion.
To win his first title Pulliam had to best the efforts of Wallingford driver Keith Rocco.
In 2012 Pulliam raced at events at Motor Mile in Radford, Va., South Boston (Va.) Speedway, Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway, Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, N.C. and Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C.
Pulliam overcame an early season suspension stemming from a 2011 incident to win his first national title.
“It’s hard to believe but a year ago today, if you would have asked anyone who the 2012 national champion would be, my name would not come up,” Pulliam said Saturday.
Pulliam finished the year with 22 wins, 30 top-fives and 32 top-10’s in 36 starts. He became the 22nd driver to win the short track national championship in the 31-year history of the award.
Rocco, the 2010 National Champion, finished as the national runner-up for the third time in the last four years. Rocco competed full-time in the SK Modified divisions at Stafford Motor Speedway, the Waterford Speedbowl and Thompson International Speedway. He overcame a broken wrist in late July and a suspension late in the season at Waterford to finish second in the country. He finished the season with 14 victories in 43 starts. He also won Rookie of the Year on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour.
C.E. Falk of Virginia Beach, Va. was third in the national standings. Ryan Preece of Berlin, who competed full-time at Stafford and Thompson in an SK Modified, was fifth nationally. Ted Christopher of Plainville, who ran an SK Modified regularly at Stafford and Thompson was sixth in the country. Woody Pitkat of Stafford, who ran an SK Modified at Stafford and Thompson, was 11th in the nation.