Tag Archives: Tommy Lemons Jr

Stacy Puryear Officially Wins the Pole for the 2018 ValleyStar Credit Union 300

Stacy Puryear addresses the media for the second year in a row after earning an even better front row starting position for the 2018 ValleyStar Credit Union 300. (Casey Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com)

Ridgeway, VA – It is that time of the year again! When the best Late Model Stock Car drivers, and this year one of the best Super Late Model drivers, converge on to the half-mile paper clip that is Martinsville Speedway.

The ValleyStar Credit Union 300 is one of the richest races of the year and also brings some of the largest car counts any track has seen. It was also this time last year just about everyone in the media center had their stories ready to go… Jeff Oakley and Deac McCaskill Start on the Front Row Under the Lights… or something along those lines. However, that was all thrown out the window when both cars, something that is a little unheard of in these big races, were found to be illegal post qualifying, handing the front row over to Jake Crum and Stacy Puryear. This year, however, was not the case.

Fast forward a year later and Puryear has found himself once again on the front row, this time it was solely based on his time, and one position better. Seventy-two cars took to the speedway in groups of five, grouped from slowest to fastest, for five timed laps under the lights. Puryear went out for his five timed laps about midway through the session and laid down a 20.100 (89.552 MPH), Tommy Lemons Jr. clocked in right behind him, the two are locked into the front row and will not have to run any of the heat races tomorrow afternoon.

“Last year we learned that the dew fell and the track got slicker,” Puryear said. “We thrashed on that thing and didn’t put tires on it at the end of practice last year. We learned a lot last year when the sun went down and took that with us tonight.”

Tommy Lemons pretty much echoed his comments verbatim.

“I honestly did not think I would be coming in here tonight,” Lemons explained. “I was hoping for a top ten or something. The car felt really good though off the truck, I told the guys not to really touch a whole lot.”

Official qualifying results were not made available to us at the time this article was posted as cars are still working through tech. Keep an eye out here and our social media pages and we will post them as they are confirmed to us.

Things will get started tomorrow morning at 10 AM when the garage opens. Fan gates will open at 1:00 PM same time the on-track autograph session kicks off. Heat races will roll off approx. 3:00 PM with a target green flag of 8:00 PM for 200-laps.

 

**This is an unofficial posting of the qualifying order from today, will update when positions are finalized**

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

Tommy Lemons Jr. Wins Back-to-Back Pole Awards At Myrtle Beach

img_9977Myrtle Beach, SC –  For the second year in a row, Tommy Lemons Jr. has claimed the pole in the final race of the season here at Myrtle Beach Speedway. Lemons decided to take his own fate in his hands, as he was guaranteed no less than a fifth place starting position after winning the Ice Breaker 200 earlier in the year.

“I realy felt like I left a lot on the table,” Lemons said during the fan meet and greet. “I just over drove the car there on that second lap, it just felt like I could of run a little bit faster. “

As mentioned above Lemons Jr bested the times of Alfredo, JRM driver Christian Eckes, Justin Johnson and Kason Plott – the starting five drivers for the 2016 Myrtle Beach 400. Lemons pretty much put on a racing clinic back in the spring which may have helped build the note book for this race. Which if I may, is running a new format this year from previous events.

“The format doesn’t really change our game plane to much really. Back in the spring we ran 125 straight here so its all about running as hard as you can and keeping as much tire under it as you can. That’s kind of the game plan and just hope we can be around there at the end.”

Testing and qualifying all completed in the daytime here at Myrtle Beach Speedway but we will go green shortly after 6:00 PM tonight after the sun has set. Lemons not all that concerned and feels he has a really good piece with him this weekend.

“I feel like we got a really good car,” Lemons said about the race. “I was a little iffy there in practice. It felt like we had a decent car but after qualifying I think we have a really good car. We still have to ride around and save tires as much as possible. Hopefully we can stay out front and dictate what everyone else does.”

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Valley Star Credit Union 300 Who to Watch – With Special Guest Mark Rogers Jr.

img_9843It’s one of, if not the most prestigious Late Model race this region has to offer when it comes to asphalt short track racing. The Mid-West as the Winchester 400, the North East has the Oxford 250, the South East has the Snowball Derby, granted those are all Super Late Models, we are blessed with the Fall Classic that is Martinsville. Every year drivers from all over flock to the .526-mile paper clip at a shot at one of the biggest pay days of their career.

Over 70 drivers will attempt to make the field of 43 racing 200-laps for the shot of $25,000 and more! For the last couple of years, as The Weekly Racer has been able to attend, we have given our picks on who you should watch for from our experience over the previous season of racing. But while we make our cases for the Lee Pulliam’s, Matt Bowling’s, Peyton Seller’s and Tommy Lemon Jr’s to win. Lets not over look the race teams who have every bit of good equipment and just might be a surprise race winner of the 2016 Valley Star 300.

With 2016 being our third year covering the track we thought we would spice things up a little bit and bring in a guest who is respected among many within the Late Model community. Someone to shine a little different lite on the race, to offer up a different look on things. This year’s special guest is none other than Mr. Mark Rogers Jr. of Race22. Whom has teamed up yet again to work on bringing you the fans some of the best coverage of the race to date! Be sure to be on the look out for our combined LIVE coverage on both Twitter feeds as well as a dedicated chat style broadcast.

 

Mark Rogers Jr – Who to Watch

 

Macy Causey

 

Though she came up short of making the field for last years race, you might want to consider giving Macy Causey a second glance. Vegas odds would likely be against her but things are very different this year for her as she continues to mature and impress in the Late Model racing. Though its been a short race season for Macy, she gained popular attention leading several laps out at Dominion Raceway racing against Nick Smith who was the track champion this year. Macy was also showing speed in the Martinsville test session last week as she had Late Model stand out and current Xfinity series part time driver Matt Waltz turning the wrenches. Needless to say, those clicking stopwatches will likely all agree, might want to keep an eye on Macy Causey.

 

Ryan Repko

Next one I believe you should consider is Ryan Repko who has been racing out at Motor Mile Speedway and ventured out to make a trip to Dominion Raceway as well. Though some will critique car counts at Motor Mile, what impresses me the most is that Repko has raced and followed in the lines of two National Champions in Lee Pulliam and Phillip Morris this year. Not bad company to be around right? Repko finished third in the series points at Motor Mile behind Morris and track champion Pulliam showing that he can compete. I think will get nothing less from Repko at Martinsville, his test day went very well for a kid to have never turned laps at the half mile paperclip track. Repko clicked off some 20.40’s putting him well within the best during testing. Just one more to consider based on performance.

 

Justin T. Carroll

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📸 Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com

Lets do another, testing well at Martinsville and clicking laps in the 20.40’s was CARS Late Model Tour Series driver Justin Carroll. Back in September, Carroll dominated an evening at Hickory Motor Speedway taking the race pole and the twin race events. The success and momentum is still riding high especially learning that he practiced well up top on the leader board at Martinsville last week. Justin is one of those racers that tends to sneak up there and gets involved in late race battles. Though Justin would likely agree that many things will have to go right for him to…get involved. This again, is one of those race talents who has the goods and could very well be in those ones to watch category.

 

Mike Looney

Next up is another one of the 2016 Motor Mile Alumi and Martinsville test session standouts in Mike Looney. I know, pick the guy who clocked the fastest lap clicked on the stopwatch and tell me to watch out for him right? Perhaps, but Looney was the only one who was consistently fast all day when followed  upon. So should we just go ahead and award him the prestigious Martinsville Speedway Grandfather Clock? Of course not, two hundred laps and the checker flag is what will determine that. But what it does mean is that Mike Looney is no joke and must be given his earned due as one to watch in this years Valley Star 300.

 

Phillip Morris

📸 Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com

📸 Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com

All right, last one to make it a five count, not just any name to the list either but certainly one to watch, the “King” himself…Phillip Morris. Though stark in contrast to the others here on the list, I’m putting Morris as one to watch because this will be his year to get after it. All the bad luck of recent years is behind him for this race, its about time now where experience matters and a great hot rod is a big deal. Morris finished second in series points at Motor Mile this year and pocketed some race wins as well. Many thought when Morris backed down on racing the past few years that it was going to be the last of the “King”. Like all kings, whether you love him or you don’t. Phillip Morris is here at Martinsville Speedway and showing speed in preparation for the 2016 Valley Star 300. Morris is certainly one to watch as the weekend approaches.

 

The Weekly Racer’s Top 5 To Watch

 

Tommy Lemons Jr.

It hasn’t been done in my life time and it’s almost to easy of a pick but something in my gut just tells me Tommy Lemons, Jr. is look to fill one more room in his house with a grandfather clock. A repeat winner hasn’t been crowned at Martinsville since the mid 80’s when the track hosted both a spring and fall race. With Lemons posting unofficial times during the annual test session down in the 40’s and 50’s and the car showing good stability all day long, Lemons has to be one of the cars on your radar coming into this weekend.

 

Macy Causey

Much like Mark Rogers mentioned above, you see the name Macy Causey and may think to yourself… who? Well I can tell you what, it’s certainly a name you are going to want to start remembering as she has been invited to showcase her talents once again this year in Rev Racings, Drive for Diversity program. Returning to the paperclip after not even making the show last year, Causey has proven herself late in 2016 by being able to hang with some of the bigger names in Late Model racing. Couple that with a brand new attitude on racing and Xfinity set-up man/part time driver, Matt Waltz, Causey is going to be a car to watch this year.

 

R.D Smith

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📸 Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com

After starting in the rear of the 43-car field just a year ago and being able to survive and finish third, R.D. Smith is another driver that comes to mind. After showing impressive times in Thursday’s test session and sharing with us he felt the car was almost there, he too will be a car to look out for. Smith spent most of the morning, by our watches, as one of the fastest cars to take a lap. After speaking with Smith at the conclusion of Thursday’s test he let us know with just a few more tweaks he feels the car should be just right.

 

Josh Berry

📸 Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com

📸 Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com

This young man has been on a tear in the CARS Late Model Tour this season. Had it not been for missing one race Berry would more than likely be your points leader in that touring division has he has two poles and four wins in just seven starts. Berry proved to the world that he knows how to wheel a race car after putting up a solid finish in the #88 Jr. Motorsports Xfinity car at Richmond. In addition, Berry is one of the few drivers that have been able to win at Langley Speedway in Hampton, VA in just his first time. Given the times clocked all day last week – Berry will need to be at the top of everyone’s cars to watch.

 

 

Matt Bowling

You may think I am crazy right? Picking the most recent NWAAS National Champ is probably a crazy move. Especially seeing’s how the last few years has proven the national champ doesn’t win the race and would be lucky to even finish the race. Well I believe in superstition to a degree and I believe every “curse” has to come to an end. I also think 2016 will be the year that the NWAAS Champ will be able to have his cake and eat it to. After clocking times that were consistently fast all day, Matt Bowling has been on such a roll this year it is hard to count this young man out. Remember, its not always the fastest car that wins the race, and in the case of Martinsville, its more so the car that can avoid the most trouble.

 

Honorable Mentions: Mason Diaz, who can be a bit aggressive on the racing surface and has proven he is not scared to mix it up with the big boys. After one of the worst injuries we have seen in Late Model racing ourselves, Bradley McCaskill remains on the list of those to be careful with. Coming off an injury it sure would be a story book ending to one interesting story. Coming off not only his first career win but first career track championship, Brenden Queen has one of the best in the business as a crew chief. Showing steady speeds in the mid 20’s this past Thursday, as long as Queen can keep his nose clean, could be a factor in Sundays feature. Finally making our honorable mentions are the Edwards Brothers. Even though both Danny and Greg have been all but dormant in 2016 both have been in the business far to long to forget how to get up on the wheel. Both drivers showed impressive speeds all day last Thursday and looked about as good as any of them when they went out for their sticker run.

 

****

Well there you have it, a five racer list, between two gentleman from two separate organizations, of those whom to watch. We could have played safe and gone high on the speed charts or stuck with all the “big names” to make our picks from. But on this list were the intentions of race teams should opportunity meet preparation, an awesome win for these ones to watch is very much possible. Don’t cheat yourself fans, don’t miss this great NWAAS Late Model event at Martinsville Speedway. Local short track racing in the Mid-Atlantic is as good as its ever been. This weekend, we celebrate the best teams in Late Model racing, nearly eighty will participate, but only one will win. Who are your top five picks? Leave a comment bellow or on our Facebook wall. We love to hear your thoughts.

Tommy Lemons, Jr. Looks for Repeat Success at The Paper Clip

Michael Diaz (left), Tommy Lemons, Jr. (center), Mason Diaz (right) hanging out in the garage stall right at the lunch break during Thursday’s test session. (Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com)

Michael Diaz (left), Tommy Lemons, Jr. (center), Mason Diaz (right) hanging out in the garage stall right at the lunch break during Thursday’s test session. (Justin Kern/TheWeeklyRacer.com)

To win at Martinsville Speedway has to be at the top of every Late Model Stock Car driver’s list of things to do. To win the race once is an honor in its own right, to win it more than once well, that puts you in a whole other league. Since the start of the fall only race in 1998 there have only been three drivers to win more than once and none to go back to back – Tommy Lemons, Jr. looks to add one more grandfather clock to his resume and be the first in twenty-two years to win back to back.

After holding off a hard charging Timothy Peters in last years edition of the Valley Star Credit Union 300, Lemons capped off what he described as a not so good year with one of the biggest paydays a driver can get in this division. With an impressive 2016 almost behind him already – sitting just 10 points behind Deac McCaskill – in the sophomore season of the CARS Tour Lemons has already found himself in victory lane twice this year. However, many drivers have said it before, Martinsville is a completely different beast.

“We came with a different package from last year just to try something different,” Lemons told The Weekly Racer Thursday afternoon as practice was wrapping up. “I feel like we are finally getting the car to where it needs to be. There was definitely a lot of grip in the morning when it was cool and with the sun out the track had started to slide a little bit. The track is taking a lot of rubber finally. Luckily we have been pretty free so we’ve been pretty good.”

With teams not running transponders for the test session, like they will do next weekend during practice and of course their time trials, all of the times gathered this past Thursday were unofficial stop watch times. With over sixty cars in attendance we were able to clock two laps back to back in the 20.40-second range – an unofficial 20.47 being The Weekly Racers official – unofficial time.

Teams got to experience a gambit of track changes throughout out the day with cool and overcast conditions early all the way to sunny and warm condition later in the day. What made things really interesting was the Goodyear tire test as well as the chemical NASCAR put down on the second groove to help with grip for the upcoming Sprint Cup race. We asked the defending champ of the race if that changed how he approached the test session.

“It didn’t affect us too much really,” Lemons stated. “From everything I gathered they were in the second groove for the most part for their test. I didn’t really see anything different with the bottom.”

At the end of the day Lemons seemed pretty happy with the car and they speed they were able to find.

“You really want to get all the speed you can get today,” said Lemons. “That way you can get a decent balance heading into next weekend so all you have to do is fine tune.”

Haulers will begin to roll into the garage area Friday evening. Garage and registration opens at 6:00 am Saturday morning. Gates for fans will open around noon and practice will run from 1 PM – 4 PM when group qualifying will get underway. The garage will open at 8 AM Sunday morning followed by the fan gates at 9 AM. The on track driver’s autograph session is slated to kick off at 10 with heat races starting at noon. Adult tickets are just $30 while youth 12 and under are $5.