How do you follow up a track championship at Montgomery Motor Speedway in you are Christopher Tullis?
Win the biggest race of the year.
The Alabama 200 wasn’t quite that straightforward, however, as The Hunt For The Bear was decided by a late restart that eliminated a dominant Matthew Craig and allowed Tullis to eventually execute on the tire management strategy that sent him to Victory Lane.
The signature incident of the race occurred on Lap 121 with Jordan McCallum taking the green flag as the leader on older tires, and spun sideways n Turn 1 in an incident that collected Craig and Jake Garcia.
Tullis was able to drive through the melee, and took the tires he had saved during a caution with 25 to go, and was able to use them to drive back through the field and pass leader Chris Davidson with two to go.
“When I saw them wreckin there right in front of us, I was just kinda praying that they’d just keep going up the racetrack,” Tullis told Short Track Scene after the race. “I saw where the hole was going to open up. I thought the 35 was gonna fill the hole first and I was gonna follow him through it and he went to the top and I saw a chance to go under the cars going up the racetrack. We were just fortunate there to be in the right place at the right time to slide past that.
“I hate the 54 got taken out he would’ve been the car to beat. I think we might’ve had something there for him at the end but everything kinda fell our way there. Especially with the wreck. That’s just one of the fortunate things to happen for us tonight.”
Immediately after the race, Craig was downtrodden.
“Not much to say, best car got taken out.” Craig said.
The next morning, the defending CAS Tour Super Late Model champion and two-time PASS South champion had already moved on.
“Just going to rebuild the car and put it behind us,” Craig said. “Having a great car that was on rails gives us confidence for the next race for sure.”
Davidson emerged with the lead after the crash that eliminated McCallum, Craig and Garcia. Augie Grill took the lead shortly after the restart, but was soon re-passed by Davidson and John Bolen.
The other defining moment of the race came with 25 to go when Jojo Wilkinson spun in Turn 1.
It allowed Tullis, who had only changed left sides only under the previous caution and was once a lap down due to his tire management gambit, to take his remaining tires. He drove from 12th to fifth before another caution with nine to go packed everyone back together and left Davidson essentially a sitting duck with tires behind him.
“We were good all night. They said he (Tullis) got tires much later than we did,” Davidson said on the Speed51 broadcast. “We passed everybody we were supposed to except the two cars [Matt Craig & Jake Garcia] that got taken out earlier. I don’t want to negate that because they were really good. We just need a little different tire strategy because the car was awesome.”
For Tullis, it continued his momentum from 2020, and was a career defining achievement — especially given the breaks that needed to go their way throughout the race.
“I mean, I don’t have words to describe it yet, I don’t think it’s settled in yet,” Tullis said. “It was a lot of highs and lows I mean, we went from a lap down to getting an opportunity to have a shot to pretty much go and drive for my life there the last 20 laps. To get that win, it means the world to me. It’s a big race for us, one of the biggest races of the year and I couldn’t have scripted it to go any better.
“To win a championship there last year and then come out and win the Alabama 200 this year, I think it says a lot for our race team,” he continued. “I hope to win a lot more races this year.”
The results can be found below.
- Christopher Tullis
- Chris Davidson
- John Bolen
- Augie Grill
- Jett Noland
- Justin Bonnett
- Chase Spradlin
- Kyle Plott
- Johanna Robbins
- Hunter Wright
- Mason Keller
- JoJo Wilkinson
- Jeff Dawkins
- Kason Plott
- David Killian
- Jim Wall
- Jordan McCallum
- Jeremy Williams
- Gage Rodgers
- Matt Craig
- Jake Garcia
- Hudson Halder
- Jason Furrow
- Pat Cruise
- Michael Hinde