Track Specs: .363-mile oval / 150 laps
Mayer’s start/finish: 7th/1st
Lemke’s start/finish: 3rd/19th
HICKORY, N.C. (Sept. 3, 2019) – Sam Mayer returned to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for JR Motorsports on Saturday night and came away with the team’s third Bobby Isaac Memorial triumph in the past four seasons. JRM’s Adam Lemke was in position to do so as well, only to see his JRM Chevrolet succumb to a mechanical issue shortly after passing Mayer for the top spot midway through the 150-lap event.
Mayer, in his first Late Model start with JRM since the end of 2018, qualified seventh and rode there until the first caution, for oil on the track, at lap 25. With speedy-dry on the bottom line, that freed the top for Mayer, who started sixth when the green flag waved again. The young Wisconsin driver motored up to second place in short order, taking the lead from Lemke a few laps later. The only time he was headed the rest of the way was when Lemke got past again, and then suffered his mechanical mishap.
Lemke, making his first Bobby Isaac Memorial start, qualified third for the event, his best starting spot of the season. When the green flag waved, he stayed in third until Justin Carroll rolled up on the bottom groove. Lemke raced the top line up to second place in time for the caution to wave. On the restart, Lemke used the top groove to take the lead from Ryan Repko, last year’s Bobby Isaac Memorial winner. Lemke held the top spot until Mayer and Charlie Watson sailed past on the high groove.
Riding behind those two, saving tires, Lemke bided his time while the leaders battled. When the time came to go to the front, the California driver did so, getting both Watson and Mayer to take the lead. Coming off Turn 2 in the lead, Lemke’s No. 98 Off-Axis Paint/JR Motorsports Chevrolet popped out of gear and the engine died. Pulling to the low groove, Lemke got the car fired again, but the clutch wouldn’t engage and his night was over in a very frustrating 19th place.
Meanwhile, Mayer kept his car planted in the lead for the remaining distance, which passed caution-free, to earn the victory. Charlie Watson followed Mayer to the checkered flag, followed by Carroll, last year’s winner Ryan Repko and Matt Leicht.
Next action for JRM is Sept. 7, when Lemke will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series event at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway.
Sam Mayer, driver No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet team
“It’s an amazing feeling coming back to a car I haven’t run in a year and winning, and in such a prestigious race too! I can’t thank everyone over at JRM and Drivers Edge Development for the opportunity. Can’t wait to come back to race at the Fall Brawl!”
Adam Lemke, driver No. 98 Off-Axis Paint/JR Motorsports Chevrolet team
“At the drop of the green flag I knew we had the best car and it was our race to win. I was very confident in myself and the car that I could get it done tonight. When I had realized how good we really were the No. 57 (Carroll) was trying to pass me on the inside so I rolled the top and got into second with ease because the car was turning so good. I had a feeling there weren’t going to be a lot of cautions this race so when I assumed the lead on the second restart I knew it was important. When Sam and the other car got around me on the top I let them go to cool my tires down, save them for when they stopped battling, so I could pass them without having to use my tires up too bad. That’s exactly what happened. As soon as I got around Sam I knew my tires had good grip so if he tried to pass me back I could hold him off. After passing him exiting Turn 2 the car popped out of gear and shut off. I pulled to the inside and finally got it started back up but the clutch wouldn’t engage when I would put it in gear. It ended up costing us the race and most likely the win. It was the worst thing that could have happened. It is one of the worst feelings ever. It is not often when you have a car that good, but we will move on from this race and get ready for the next one.”