Peyton Sellers and Lee Pulliam exchanged fenders and then words in the closing hour of the Hampton Heat 200 on Saturday night at Langley Speedway in Virginia.
The two were racing for the win on a Lap 196 restart when Sellers drove hard into Turns 3 and 4, into Pulliam, sending the four-time champion around. Sellers was under Nick Smith for second at the time and drove into the corner way too deep — leading to the contact with his fellow NASCAR national champion.
Both drivers were sent to the rear for the ensuing restart — Sellers for contact.
Pulliam brake-checked Sellers several times during the caution that followed. Pulliam returned the favor, dumping Sellers on the next restart to set-up the final four-lap finish that decided the race between Connor Hall and Nick Smith.
The two drivers hashed out with a heated exchange in the infield after the race.
Sellers said the contact wasn’t anywhere close to intentional, or aggressive, and was just the byproduct of his battle with Smith for second.
It was a mistake.
“I was racing Nick Smith hard on the inside,” Sellers said. “I cleared him going into three. They said clear right as I was getting into the corner, and I got into Lee. I hate it for them. It knocked them out of a win tonight …
“He thought it was intentional, but it wasn’t intentional at all. I just made a mistake. I was racing the guy on the outside too hard and wasn’t focused on what was in front of me.”
Pulliam declined to comment and just sat in solitude after the race in front of his two-car stable. Teammate Brandon Pierce DNF’d with a mechanical issue.
Sellers knew that he had a good car going into the Hampton Heat. Because of the tire rule in place for the race, he knew that he had to save his left rear tires for the entire 200 lap event.
“We had a good car tonight,” he said. “I knew I had to save the left rear tires because we got rights but had to run the left rear for 200 laps. I just kept it on there all night. I was really worried with 50 or 60 to go. We just didn’t have track position. A couple of times the waters parted and opened up the door for us to get up there and make a run for it.
“He (Pulliam) was the best car here, no doubt about it. At no point did we have the best car, but we did have a second or third place car. I hate it. We will go to Martinsville and have a good run there. We have to focus on this national championship right now. A win would have been nice tonight, but a second would have been better. I hate it we had controversy. Hopefully he will watch some film and put it behind him.”