Tullis Brings Blazing Beginning to 5 Flags Eyeing Allen Turner Hyundai PLM Wins, Track Title, Snowflakeadmin
Tullis Brings Blazing Beginning to 5 Flags Eyeing Allen Turner Hyundai PLM Wins, Track Title, Snowflake
By Chuck Corder
Having your birthday fall on a holiday is one thing. The guest of honor always feels a little short-changed, knowing their special day ultimately will get overshadowed by family festivities of Christmas, Easter, etc.
Try sharing a birthday with Valentine’s Day. That seems downright cruel. Welcome to Christopher Tullis’ fate each February 14. The now 21-year-old short-track driver is on the wrapping end rather than the receiving end every Valentine’s Day.
“My girlfriend can attest,” Tullis said of good-luck charm Kaitlyn, “that I’m a sucker to giving out presents on my birthday. I make it work, though.”
Tullis makes birthdays work about as easily as he makes Pro Late Models run. The Dacula, Ga., driver has opened the 2021 season with a bang, tearing through racetracks in Alabama and his native Georgia.
Tullis brings his battle-tested Jim Chancy Motorsports PLM to Pensacola on Friday as Five Flags Speedway hosts the Allen Turner Hyundai PLM Series for their first 100-lap feature of the year. Tullis, who typically only competes during Snowball Derby week, is looking forward to being a Five Flags familiar face in 2021.
“We’ve brought fast racecars, but we haven’t ventured down there much to run consistently,” Tullis said. “This is a family deal, so it’s hard to get off work on Fridays to make it down here.
“We’ve always had fast cars at the Snowflake (100), but somehow ended up in the melee. I want to build a good notebook and run all the races down there this year to, hopefully, make a run at the ‘Flake.’ ”
The PLMs share the marquee with The Dock on Pensacola Beach Sportsmen and the Lloyd’s Glass Pure Stocks. Gates open at 5 p.m. Friday and racing starts approximately at 8. Admission is $15 for adults; $12 for seniors, military members, and students; free for children ages 11-and-under.
With a new car under him, Tullis has been a breakout short-track star through the season’s first few months.
A PLM track champion last year at Montgomery (AL) Motor Speedway, Tullis backed up that extraordinary feat in March by winning the Alabama 200, Montgomery’s biggest race annually. After finishing second to Stephen Nasse at the Baby Rattler 125, Tullis avenged his defeat and whipped Nasse at Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele, Ga., for his first career JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour victory.
“It’s a dream winning a Pro Late Model race so close to home,” Tullis said of his win at Cordele. “I only get to race there now once a year, but I still consider it my home track. The car came to life and when we went green for the last 30 laps, I was able to put some distance on (Nasse).”
Two wins and a runner-up to Nasse – the reigning Southern Super Series champ for Super Late Models – has Tullis brimming with confidence as he readies to tackle the famed half-mile asphalt oval for 100 laps Friday.
The Tullis men – Christopher, dad J.L, and brother John – and their “Dream Team” have spent this week setting the car up for Pensacola’s high banks and its distinctive challenges.
“Pensacola is definitely unique,” Christopher Tullis said. “You have to be up on the wheel there. As soon as you’re coming out one corner, you’re getting ready for the next one. If we bring a car that can handle 100 laps, we have a shot.”
A self-proclaimed “short-track junkie,” Tullis has a master’s degree in the sport. As such, he is passionate about winning at Five Flags, etching his name alongside some of the greats that preceded him.
Simply walking through the gates at Pensacola’s high banks gives Tullis goosebumps.
“I wanna win races and run for a track championship down there,” he said. “The list of people who came before me speaks for itself. While I want our focus to be on the ’Flake and us having a fast racecar in December, I also want to experience the changes the track goes through all year.”
Tullis gets his wish come Friday. And his valentine is sure to be close by. Kaitlyn was there for both wins but couldn’t make the trip to Opp for the Baby Rattler.
Tullis hasn’t stopped needling her about it.
“I’m making sure she’s in the truck coming down with us to Five Flags,” he said.