Tommy Lemons, Jr. has become one of the biggest names in Late Model Stock Car racing. Now, he hopes to continue his progression with a championship in the brand new Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) Late Model Stock Tour.
Last season Lemons, 28, from Troy, North Carolina, won the track championship at Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, North Carolina. That track championship came nearly one year after his big win in Late Model Stock Car racing’s biggest event, the Valley Star Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia.
This season, Lemons will face several new challenges, running at new tracks and in a brand new tour with a new rules package.
“We’re going to try to run that full deal for the CARS Tour and I think that will be really good for us Late Model guys that like to travel,” Lemons said. “It seems like they’re going to pump the money into it. It looks like it’s going to turn out really well. On the off weekends, we’re still going to run some NASCAR stuff at all the racetracks, go places we haven’t been and go places we’ve been to and had success. Hopefully, keep everything rolling really well.”
The rules package in the CARS Tour will allow for bump stops and coil-binding, something Lemons has never done. He spent several hours on Monday testing at Southern National Motorsports Park, the track that will host the series debut, with bump stops and a coil-binding setup.
“It’s definitely a different ballgame for us,” Lemons remarked. “We never ran the UARA when they did bump stops and coil binding. Our learning curve’s got to go pretty fast. The first race is in three weeks here at Southern National. I don’t think we’re too bad. I think we can be a lot better. It’s the first time I’ve ever been on bump stops so I feel like we’ve got a pretty good starting point. I feel like there’s a lot left in it as well.
While the first race being run at the track Lemons won the championship at in 2014 should be somewhat of an advantage, the veteran knows he will also have some tough competition with drivers such as Jamey Caudill and other veterans who have experience running bump stops and coil-binding setups from their experience in the now defunct UARA-STARS tour.
“Jamey will definitely be tough,” Lemons stated. “He’s proven that here. He has 101 victories here or something like that. That speaks for itself. Plus, he’s got some experience with bump stops and coil-binding and stuff like that from UARA. We’re going to dig and hopefully we’ll be in victory lane.”
Despite not having that experience, Lemons said he would not be running in the CARS Tour if he didn’t think he could contend for the championship.
Along with the CARS Tour, Lemons will race at South Boston Speedway in the track’s season opener on Saturday and will travel to other venues this season, including Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia where he plans race in the Hampton Heat 200. Lemons’ appearance in the Hampton Heat 200 will have him running all four of the crowned jewel events in Late Model Stock Car racing — which consists of Langley Speedway, the Valley Star Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway, the Myrtle Beach 400 at Myrtle Beach Speedway and the Thanksgiving All-Star Classic at Southern National Motorsports Park.
“We’ve never been to Langley so hopefully we can sneak off up there a time or two before the Hampton Heat and give it a whirl. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Langley but never been there. I’d like to get up there before I hang up my driver’s suit but hopefully that is still a few years away. I just want to go to places we haven’t been. It will help Jumpstart Motorsports and my guys as well. We’re trying to promote Jumpstart Motorsports more and fill a seat or two. Traveling to different tracks gives us that much more experience to put into our Driver Development program.”
Last season, Lemons finished inside the top-10 in the three crowned jewel events he competed in. Lemons’ tentative 2015 schedule can be seen on his website at www.tommylemonsjr.com.
-Lemons Motorsports Press Release. Photo credit: Speed51.com