Brian Tully won his first-ever Perris Auto Speedway main event November 22, closing out the track’s Street Stocks season with a victory in which he led for all 25 laps.
The win also gave Tully fourth place in the final season point standings.
“I probably won’t stop smiling for a week or so,” Tully said.
Tully’s previous best main event finish at Perris was a second-place result in his previous race September 20. “We didn’t want to change anything,” Tully said.
In reality Tully and his pit crew of Steve McCain and Howard Bymark made air pressure adjustments to the Nova to account for track temperature changes during the two months.
The spark plugs and the oil were also changed.
“We did not do any major changes,” Tully said.
In addition to McCain and Bymark, Jerry Dodd provided Tully’s carburetor and Kenny Mann tuned the carburetor. “It’s a good carburetor,” Tully said.
McCain had his own car November 22, although with the lack of pit work needed that night he was still able to help Tully.
“He came over and gave me a little technical advice,” Tully said. “We share notes about the track.”
The season finale included an extended main event and no heat race.
That eliminated the possibility of Tully needing repairs after the heat race, and he also chose to forego practice laps on the half-mile oval in order to protect the car.
Tully noted that the track temperature change between the practice lap session and the main event would have given practice laps little value for a veteran.
The race, however, included parade laps prior to the original green flag, and Tully chose his driving line during those laps. “I know what the track is,” he said.
Tully began the night eighth in the point standings.
The track inverted the standings’ top eight drivers to start the main event, although sixth-place Jim Pierce was absent November 22, as was ninth-place Karl Greene, so tenth-place Walt Kelly was given the pole and Tully began the race on the outside of the front row.
A total of 29 cars started the main event.
Tully got the jump on Kelly. “We both took off at the same time,” Tully said. “My car hooked up a little better, and I pulled him down the straight.”
That gave Tully not only the lead but also control of the outside line. “I tried to hit my mark where the car seemed to handle the best,” he said.
Tully’s best line was approximately three-quarters of the way up the track. “I kept going a little higher,” he said.
That process led to the discovery of a rut between turns one and two. “It upset the grip on the car,” Tully said. “I could hear the chain that you put under your driveshaft.”
Tully then drove lower on the track and eventually accumulated leads of half a straightaway.
“It was one of the best hooked up cars I’ve had out there,” he said. “Several times I had a good lead, but it was diminished by the yellow flags.”
While Tully had a clear lead, a battle for second between Kelly, Chris Thompson, and Tommy Malcolm left those cars focusing on each other.
Although Tully does not use a rear view mirror, the scoreboard at turn two allowed a determination of the drivers immediately behind him.
“Before we restarted I always looked up at the scoreboard,” Tully said. “That’s the only way I know basically how the field is coming behind me.”
Yellow flags were thrown in the second and sixth laps, and on the seventh lap Curtis Dietzsch passed Kelly for fourth place. The next yellow flag was thrown in the tenth lap.
“Tommy and Chris and especially Curtis are good drivers. Aggressive but good. They don’t push the envelope. They wait for the proper time to pass,” Tully said.
While the yellow flags created a lineup for the restart and erased the distance Tully had gained, they also placed the slowest cars in that lineup.
That limited the amount of lapped traffic Tully had to encounter. “I would have lapped half the field,” he said.
Lapped cars in later laps caused both Tully and Dietzsch to avoid spins, and the reduction in lapped traffic also allowed Tully to maintain his preferred line.
“I had a lot more clear racetrack,” he said. “It made my line more available, which seemed to really work for me.”
When Tully had to lap slower cars, he tried to be as aggressive as possible and as close to his preferred line as feasible.
“I’d drive a little bit higher just to get around the car,” he said. “My momentum was the key to getting by them quickly without getting tangled up.”
The restarts had another benefit for Tully. “It cooled my tires and it gave me a chance to stop holding my breath,” he said.
In the 13th lap Dietzsch broke away from the pack with Thompson and Malcolm and moved into second place.
In the 14th lap McCain became Tully’s first lapped driver, although McCain went into the pits a lap later.
Tully lapped Chris McWilliams on the 17th lap, giving him a car between himself and Dietzsch before Dietzsch passed McWilliams on the 18th lap.
Tully next lapped Chris Bach on the 20th circuit, and on that green flag lap Thompson had to pit, costing him the positions he needed to stay in front of Tully in the final season point standings.
On the following lap Ronnie Meyer, who started the night immediately ahead of Tully in the point standings, lost a tire.
That lap also saw Leroy Whitson and Mike Turner cause a red flag when they collided on the front straightaway.
“I was coming up to lap them as they were involved in the accident. I had to swerve to the inside to miss them. It was close,” Tully said.
Tully avoided Whitson and Turner by a couple of feet. Bach still had not been lapped by Dietzsch and was positioned between Tully and Dietzsch for the restart.
Bach spun on the restart, although Dietzsch avoided contact and Bach regained forward momentum before a yellow flag was needed.
The race’s final yellow flag occurred after Stephan Davies was turned around on the 23rd lap.
Tully’s success on his line caused him to maintain that line. Dietzsch attempted to utilize the shorter inside line to make up ground but was unable to catch Tully.
“I kept my momentum and I kept my speed up,” Tully said.
Malcolm finished third while Kelly captured fourth place in the race. “Everybody put on a really good show,” Tully said. “It was great racing. I enjoyed it.”
The 65-year-old Tully began his racing career with go-karts at the age of 18 and made his stock car debut at the Ascot track in 1978.
In his early years at Ascot, he pulled onto the oval and caused a 15-car collision.
Thirteen of those cars, including his, were destroyed, and he earned the nickname “Tear ’Em Up Tully.”
In his first Perris main event win, he was not involved in any contact. “I tore the track up,” he said.
Tully’s previous main event win was at Victorville’s Route 66 Raceway. The Perris win was Tully’s first since he moved to Fallbrook in 2001.
Tully has also won at Ascot and at Bakersfield’s Oildale track.
The only now-closed track at which Tully did not win a main event was Irwindale’s Speedway 605. He has raced on the current Irwindale Speedway asphalt oval but has not yet won.
His debut at Barona Speedway occurred November 8 in the Hobby Stocks division.
Tully, who drove a Camaro at Barona, was in second place before being hit from behind and being sent into the hay bales by Barona’s pit entrance.
“From hay bales to main event winner, that’s what a difference two weeks can make,” he said.
Barona Speedway promoter Todd Salazar expects to hold several Hobby Stocks races in 2009, giving Tully opportunities for his first win at that track.
“I will be back to Barona. I like that place,” he said.
When Tully drove at Irwindale Speedway, his brother Greg served as the crew chief.
Greg Tully was in the stands for his brother’s first Perris win, which was also Brian Tully’s first win observed by his brother.
“Greg had seen me coming close but had never seen me win before,” Brian Tully said.
Greg Tully’s Thailand-born wife, Mew, attended her first race and took her boss’ two children. “We picked up some new fans,” Brian Tully said.
Tully noted that his first Perris win came in a 29-car race. “I feel very fortunate,” he said.
The increase from the regular 20 laps also created a new situation. “Running a 25-lap race uses more fuel,” Tully said.
Gas tanks are full enough to account for extra laps run during yellow flags, so Tully was in no danger of running out of gas.
The additional gallons consumed, however, may affect the car’s ability to meet the minimum weight requirement at the post-race tech inspection.
“When you use more fuel your car gets lighter,” Tully said. “You have to make sure you maintain 3,400 pounds.”
Cars are weighed with the drivers inside, and the Nova weighed 3,434 pounds when it went on the scales following the September 20 race.
Tully believes that the mud that night allowed the car to exceed the minimum weight by 34 pounds, which was one of the reasons he chose not to wash the car prior to the November 22 competition.
The inspection after the season’s final race proved to be another close call for Tully. “The scale wasn’t working,” he said. “It just didn’t read right.”
The track officials gave Tully additional opportunities to drive his car onto the scales, and on the third attempt the weight was read at 3,434 pounds.
“They were very patient,” he said of the officials.
Tully noted his appreciation of the track officials. “A lot of these people, they’re not even paid,” he said. “Without them, we couldn’t race. Without the fans we couldn’t race, and I really appreciate all their support and dedication.”
Tully also expressed his gratitude to track promoter Don Kazarian and to sponsors Above Board Construction, Brian Tully Insurance Agency, Lakeside Storage, Maximum Signs, McCain Racing Engines, Pick-A-Part, and Poor Man Construction Company.
The post-race inspection also pulled valve covers to check rocker arms and checked springs and shocks. Tully’s car was compliant in those areas.
The Nova was built by Zack Forester about seven years ago, and Tully purchased it in 2006 from Nick Bartels.
On September 23, 2006, Tully won the B-main in the car.
That put him in the night’s main event, and on the fourth lap of that race one of Tully’s tires went over the side of Mick Shadduck’s car.
The Nova went airborne approximately 20 feet, rolled 3 1/2 times, and caught fire. Tully was able to leave the car on his own, and his only injuries were a scratch and soreness.
McCain eventually repaired the Nova, but it was not ready to race until 2008.
The Nova returned with a fourth-place finish in the March 15 heat race, although the main event that night was rained out and became the first race of an April 5 doubleheader.
Tully was running second in that April 5 main event before a ninth-lap collision cost him enough positions to put him in the middle of a 12th-lap incident which disabled the car for the night.
Tully had also brought the Camaro to the track April 5, and he won the heat race that night before finishing seventh in the main event.
Tully missed the first Street Stocks race of the season as he was in Florida, and he finished tenth in his initial 2008 race.
He was leading the June 28 main event before his fuel filter ceased to function properly and he pulled off the track, and he also led the July 26 feature before carburetor troubles relegated him to eighth place.
Because the final race of the season provided double points for finishing positions, Tully earned 120 points for his win.
He passed Jake Everhart as well as Pierce, Thompson, and Meyer to secure fourth in the standings behind Dietzsch, Malcolm, and Joe Falduto.
“I got top five in the points,” Tully said. “That’s pretty darn good for missing a race.”
In addition to missing the season’s first race, Tully’s early exit June 28 deprived him of any points for that night.
Closing out the season with a win added to the boost in the point standings. “Gives you a nice winter,” Tully said.
Tully also noted the congratulations he received from other drivers and track personnel after the race. “It was a wonderful night. Something I’ll treasure,” Tully said.
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