Tommy Lemons Jr. Wins 2016 Thanksgiving Classic in Over Time

Tommy Lemons, Jr. celebrates in victory lane with wife and daughter after winning 2016 Thanksgiving Classic.

Tommy Lemons, Jr. celebrates in victory lane with wife and daughter after winning 2016 Thanksgiving Classic.

Lucama, NC – An overtime win in any sport is intense. Going an extra twenty-nine laps in an advertised 200 lap race can wreck havoc on the mind and patience of any driver and crew chief. Tommy Lemons Jr. however, was able to do just that and survive the mayhem that ensued behind him. Lemons started fourth when the green flag flew and immediately worked his way to the front of the field. With a little bit of good luck and great restarts Lemons was able to survive multiple late race restarts and a rather long overtime period.

Lemons, who looked strong all day long, stayed toward the front of the field battling the likes of Lee Pulliam, Justin Johnson and Josh Berry – who coincidently did not finish the race. A few cautions early in the first half of the race bunched everyone up creating some pretty interesting restart. McCaskill & Lemons would trade positions a few more times before the halfway break – which was extended to lap 106 due to an extended caution for clean up.

A six-car invert after the ten-minute break put Nick Smith on the pole for the restart and Tommy Lemons Jr. sixth for the final 100 laps. Feeling good about the car Lemons slapped two fresh tires on the right side of the car and kept the car the same and got at it for the final half of the race. Lemons got settled in line when the green flag waived letting things get worked out. It didn’t take long for things to get wild again after Lee Pulliam, who took total control of the race, went to pass the lap car of Maddy Mulligan and second place Justin Johnson had to split her going down the back stretch. Mulligan pushed up slightly out of four upsetting Johnsons car who eventually looped it.

This put Lemons second on the first attempt at a green, white, checkered with Matt McCall third. That is when things got really interesting. On the restart Pulliam looked to get a bad jump and got a pretty big shove by Matt McCall, who lined up directly behind him into turn one, which sent him for a ride as well as tore up some other racecars. When the dust settled and cars got back to the line Tommy Lemons Jr. was able to make it out of the mess and assume the lead.

Took three attempts at a Green-White-Checkered and twenty-nine extra laps but Lemons was able to hold off three restarts and a shot from 2016 East Carolina Motor LMSC champion Brenden Queen to win the 2016 Thanksgiving Classic. We caught back up with Tommy Lemons in victory lane to talk about his strategy after the break and what the team needed to do to survive overtime.

“Yea we were really good there in that first half and decided not to make any changes,” Lemons said in victory lane. “It worked out that we are here in victory lane but if we had it to do over again we probably would of made some adjustment. Our car was just a little bit off putting just those two tires on the right side. We probably had a third place car if it hadn’t been for those late race cautions but everything worked out for us.”

In one of the longest over time attempts The Weekly Racer has ever experienced, we asked Lemons what was going through his headset and if the extra laps changed what he needed to do to win the race.

“It was pretty quiet on our radio,” Lemons explained. “I think the only conversation was between me and one of the race directors about the sun getting into one, other than that it was pretty quiet.”

Tommy Lemons Jr., a two time Martinsville Speedway winner and 2014 SNMP track champion, had a strong 2016 spending the season battling McCaskill for the championship in the CARS Tour was excited to finally get a Thanksgiving Classic title under his belt after letting it slip though his fingers eight years ago.

“One of them [Thanksgiving Classic] got away from us back in 2008 and its been a tough road getting back here,” said Lemons. “We’ve had plenty of good cars here and just couldn’t cap it off. To finally get it back here in victory lane is great, I am the only one who gets to sit all off season, or at least till February and say I am the winner and that’s a good feeling.”

Lemons was pretty excited to go into the off season with victory as well as looking forward to having a few more customers come on board to Jumpstart Motorsports.

“We don’t really know just yet,” Lemons went on to explain. “Things are still kind of up in the air. We got a few customers come on board for next year and we will just see where it takes us.”



1) #27 Tommy Lemons Jr; 229
2) #03 Brenden Queen; 229
3) #51 Matt McCall; 229
4) #08 Deac McCaskill; 229
5) #4 Jonathan Findley; 229
6) #55 Mark Wertz; 229
7) #38 Ricky Jones III; 229
8) #99 Lyane Riggs; 229
9) #21a Tim Allensworth; 229
10) #8 Tyler Hughes; 229
11) #77 Connor Hall; 229
12) #7 Michael Hardin; 229
13) #M3 Shelton McNair; 229
14) #8 Josh Oakley; 229
15) #10 Maddy Mulligan; 229
16) #82 Mike Ganoe; 229
17) #19 Bubba Johnston; 228
18) #17 Stacy Puryear; 216
19) #44 Justin Johnson; 201
20) #5 Lee Pulliam; 200
22) #50 Haley Moody; 194
23) #9 Charlie Watson; 152
24) #88 Josh Berry; 129
25) #19 Cameron Bowen; 88
26) #1g Andrew Grady; 86
27) #21 Mike Darne; 63
28) #29 Paul Williamson; 63
29) #2 Myatt Snider; 62
30) #28 Jason Barnes; 49
31) #12 Austin Thaxton; 34

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