HICKORY, N.C. (March 18, 2019) – It didn’t take very long for 16-year-old Adam Lemke to figure out Hickory Motor Speedway, as the California native won his first time out Saturday night on the venerable .363-mile speedway in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series competition. It also helped prepare him for next week’s CARS Late Model Stock Car Series event at the track.
As the lone JR Motorsports entrant for the weekend—team leader Josh Berry was at the track in an advisory capacity—Lemke got very familiar with the layout in practice. After running in the top 10 for most of the session, crew chief Bryan Shaffer put on new tires for a mock qualifying run late in the going. The new tires produced a vibration, and Lemke pulled in to make sure there was nothing amiss in his No. 98 Slick Products/JR Motorsports Chevrolet. There were no problems, and Lemke went out for qualifying not knowing where the limit was. That resulted in a 14th-place starting spot for the first of two 40-lap events.
Starting that deep in the pack meant feeling his way forward, and Lemke did just that. He rode for the first 10 laps just taking stock of what he had in his machine, and at lap 20, the young driver began working his way through the pack. With the help of spotter Ernie Mayo, Lemke rose all the way to sixth by the time the checkered flag waved.
The finish set Lemke up for a solid performance in the second 40-lapper. The top nine in the lineup were inverted for the second race, which put Lemke fourth at the green flag. Shaffer and the team made no adjustments between races, and Lemke went for the top spot as soon as he could. He had to settle for second on the initial break, and he stayed there until the caution waved. On the restart, starting from outside the front row, Lemke went side-by-side with the leader until the two reached Turn 3. As the cars went three-wide at the exit, Lemke got the lead and stayed there the rest of the way.
With 10 to go, Lemke was the leader with second and third bumper-to-bumper behind him, and the young driver held off a bump-and-run attempt in Turn 3 with five to go to earn his first victory for JR Motorsports.
Next up for the JR Motorsports team is this coming Saturday, when Lemke and Berry will compete in the CARS LMSC event at Hickory.
Adam Lemke, driver No. 98 Slick Products/JR Motorsports Chevrolet team
“I obviously didn’t want to wreck last weekend but there was a good side to that happening because I went into the race without having to worry about points and there was no pressure. I feel like we made progress, both me as a driver and with the car, every time we hit the track. I was confident going into the race that I would have a good car and it was up to me to get the job done. It feels great to have some momentum going into next weekend’s race for the CARS Tour race at Hickory so we will hit the ground running. I can’t thank Bryan Shaffer, Josh Berry, Steven Civitarese and Ernie Mayo enough for what they do. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to have around me!”