Jumpstart heads to Bristol with 4 shots at the win
By Shane Green
Jumpstart Motorsports comes in to Bristol with 4 cars running in the late model race. Talking to Tommy Lemons Jr who runs Jumpstart Motorsports, what is the hardest part about taking 4 cars to a big race like Bristol? “Biggest thing is just going over everything to make sure everything is as safe as possible.”
Every time Tommy Lemons shows up to a track he is a threat to win. A two time winner of the Valley Star Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway. Tommy has one win in the Thanksgiving Classic at Southern National Motorsports Park and was the 2014 track champion at SNMP. Tommy has raced at Bristol before back in 2007 in the UARA series where he finished 9th. 10 years later he is going back and it didn’t start off great in the first test Tommy broke a wheel and knocked a clip off the car.
Tommy went back this past weekend for the 2nd test. “Not bad, but still need to be a little better. Craig was happy.” Talking about customer driver Craig Stallard. In all the questions I asked Tommy he talked more about his customers instead of himself. I asked Tommy what his expectations were? “Only reason to go to the track is to win!!!!”
Above we mentioned Craig Stallard who has been with Jumpstart since it started in 2014. Craig is having the best season of his racing career setting 9th in points and having two top 10s in the CARS racing tour, He Has really improved over the last 3 years. I asked Craig about the improvements over the year. “ I think the 42 team from an equipment and crew standpoint is as good as there is, I’m learning every race, and every practice to listen to Tommy, Heath, and Brandon to review so many bad habits I have and we will get there. No team works harder than jumpstart.”
After the first test at Bristol talking to Craig” I think it went good, it helps having all three cars there to get info from. Craig went back for the second test this past weekend and improved a couple tenths and was really happy with the car. Asking Craig about his expectations for this weekend’s race. “ Expectations for the 42 car are pretty much the same as it is for all the cars tour races, listen to my crew chief, take what the car gives me, keep my nose clean and keep improving.” being on the CARS Tour you travel to new tracks all the time. So having to learn a new track is not something new for Craig, just like going to Dominion raceway, Craig qualified 3rd and ran good the whole race .
The plus side going to Bristol for Craig, is he lives in Kentucky so he drives 5 and 6 hours to different tracks, Bristol is just hour and half from his house. He gets to sleep in his own bed and says this is a home race for him.
Justin Johnson has been top driver in the late model stock racing. He finished 2nd in points 2008 and 09 before winning the 2010 South Boston track champion. Justin hasn’t raced full time since 2011 and didn’t race at all in 2012 and 13. But did make the race at Martinsville before trouble ended his day. Justin set a 4th in CARS Tour Late Model Points. With 3 top 5s and 4 top 10s in 5 starts. Justin only did the first test at Bristol.” Test went really well, car was extremely comfortable and had good speed.”
Justin has raced at Martinsville, I asked him If he thinks Bristol will be the same way? He thinks it’s “Completely different”. There’s going to be a major speed gap between your cars that can handle after the tires get hot and start aging and those with ill handling race cars. Wouldn’t surprise me to see some cars capable of qualifying well and being extremely off the pace after 20 or 30 laps. The closing rate is faster than anywhere else we go so if someone’s slipping and sliding that could equal trouble.” Justin is there to win, and nothing else.
Justin Hicks is a newcomer to the late model racing, he won the track championship in limited late model at Dillon speedway two years ago and won 7 races last year. He started off the season on a high note making the Icebreaker race at Myrtle Beach Speedway in his first try in a late model. Justin only did one test at Bristol “It was pretty good. We learned a lot and just had to get comfortable with track. But we feel like we have a great car for the up coming week, the hardest part was getting use to the g forces in the corners “. Justin races at both Caraway Speedway and Dillon Speedway. I asked him If they compare to Bristol and what was his expectations.” they are no where close, you actually have to drive at Bristol and get on top of the wheel. Hoping to make the race, get a good finish, and bring the car home in one piece, So that way tommy and his boys don’t have to work to hard.”
I’ve known Tommy and his whole group along time, they are great people and bring great equipment to the track anyone of these 4 drivers will be a contender to win at Bristol.