Brandon Lemke put a season full of bad luck behind him by scoring his first victory in a full sized stock car Saturday night at Hickory Motor Speedway.
Eighteen-year-old Lemke, driving for Leicht Motorsports Driver Development, qualified sixth in the 17-car field with a 15.66-second lap around the tight three-eighths-mile asphalt oval. The 50-lap race for the Paramount Limited Late Model division served as round seven of the Paramount Kia Big 10 Challenge.
On this particular evening, Lemke’s skill combined with a bit of luck to put him in position for a victory. He avoided multiple incidents in front of him, including one that involved his Leicht Motorsports teammate Mason Ludwig on lap 27 that elevated Lemke to the fifth position. Lemke would gain another position a few laps later when Gage Painter found the wall in turn two while battling for second on lap 30.
Good luck was once again on Lemke’s side during another restart on lap 35. Polesitter and race leader Taylor Gray spun in turn four while battling Vince Midas for the lead, collecting several other cars in the resulting melee. Lemke managed to avoid the mayhem and went from fourth to the race lead as a result.
Lemke survived two more restarts with the race lead, but his biggest challenge came with less than five laps left when Pat Rachels managed to get alongside him and pass him to take the lead away.
On the final lap Rachels overdrove turns one and two and drifted up the track, opening the door for Lemke to get back under him and regain the lead and secure his first victory at Hickory Motor Speedway.
“This makes it feel like all of the bad races we’ve had were worth it,” said the native of Eagle, Wisconsin. “I feel like the bad luck and everything that happened needed to happen in order for me to learn what we needed to do to win.
“During the last run I felt like I was overdriving the corners. That’s what allowed Rachels to get to me and pass me. Luckily he made the exact same mistake on the last lap and I was able to get by him and get the victory. Man, this feels so good,” Lemke said. “I can’t thank Leicht Motorsports enough for their never give up attitude and all the hard work they put into this program. I want to thank them, MPM Marketing and my parents for all their support and believing in me and my talent. I also have got to thank my sponsors Champion Parts, Quick Swim and Butzer Insurance Company. They make all this possible and now I can’t wait to do it again.”