MOORESVILLE, N.C. (March 7, 2019) – On Saturday night, the CARS Tour Late Model Stock Car Series kicks off its 2019 season at Southern National Motorsports Park near Raleigh, and it will be the first chance for JR Motorsports Late Model drivers Josh Berry and Adam Lemke to put wheels to pavement in search of victories and hopefully, championships.
Lemke, the 16-year-old from Hollister, Calif., is eager to start his apprenticeship in one of the tougher Late Model series in the country, especially with Berry, team manager Bryan Shaffer and the JR Motorsports crew in his corner.
“I just want to learn as much as I can from Josh and Bryan and everyone on the team,” the driver of the No. 98 Slick Products/JR Motorsports Chevrolet said of the start of the season “Just be a sponge and hope we finish top five on the lead lap. It’s going to be a big race (this weekend).”
The team test at Southern National opened his eyes a bit, he said. “It’s the biggest track I’ve ever raced on or practiced on,” he said. “Definitely an eye-opener. To me, that track is like Daytona. I’ve never raced on something that banked.”
He’ll get his baptism by fire soon enough, with the top Late Model teams in the region all pointing toward the series opener. It’s one of the things that drew Lemke to move all the way across the country to cut his teeth.
“It’s definitely been a completely different scene from where I’ve been racing on the West Coast,” Lemke said. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about the CARS Tour, and it’ll make me a better driver. I can’t wait to get out there and see how I stack up against them and where I finish at the end of the season.”
The young driver, who is part of the Driver’s Edge Development program instituted this year by JR Motorsports, GMS Racing and Chevrolet, is not shy about his goals. “I just want to win every single race and the championship,” he quipped before following up with a more measured estimation. “If I can finish every race and finish top-five in the points, it would be great.”
Berry, who has assumed the role of mentor the past three seasons and will reprise that role this year with Lemke, said his young teammate had the right makeup to be successful in the CARS Tour this season.
“I’ve enjoyed it,” he said of being the experienced teammate. “Over the last few years, I’m starting to find my way a little bit in working with these kids. We’ve had a great run with our Late Model program having some great drivers, and if we can continue to do that, this will be pretty fun over the next few years.”
On Lemke, Berry was bullish.
“He’s going to have a lot of talent,” Berry said. “We’re still learning each other and how to work together, but he’s got a lot of talent. He’s a good kid from a good family, and our goal for him is to run well and learn, continue to prepare himself. Whether he’s running for us for a couple of years or going to do something else, we want him to be a better driver when he leaves than when he showed up. He’ll have a shot at maybe some wins and have a strong season.”
The biggest thing Berry will counsel is, of course, something that all drivers need to learn, not just the ones who are 16 years old.
“Patience is the biggest advice,” he said. “This is incredibly competitive and it’s not going to be easy. Just be patient, keep learning and trying to get better every week and run up front. When you do that, before you know it you’re going to be running up front and competing for wins.”