Testing The Waters: CJ Lehmann Ready To Make Full-Time Jump To Whelen Mod Tour For 2018

CJ Lehmann Wednesday at Thompson Speedway

THOMPSON – The Long Island area has always played a huge part in the landscape of Modified racing and the resurgence of Long Island drivers and teams has been an overriding theme with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour over the past few years.

Driver CJ Lehmann with Visconti Motorsports is hoping he can be part of the next solid group from “The Island” chasing victories with Whelen Modified Tour.

Lehmann made his first visit as a competitor to Thompson Speedway for Wednesday’s Whelen Modified Tour Budweiser 150.

Lehmann, a native of Jim Thorpe, Pa., who now lives in Center Moriches, N.Y, finished 19th Wednesday at Thompson in his third career series start.

He made his series debut with Visconti Motorsports at Riverhead (N.Y.) Raceway on June 24 with an 18th place finish. A crash in the Stafford 150 on Aug. 4 at Stafford Motor Speedway relegated him to a 23rd place finish in his debut at the historic half-mile.

The 26-year old, who has been a regular in the Crate Modified division at Riverhead Raceway since the start of the 2016 season for Visconti Motorsports, said this year’s events are all preparation for a full-time run in 2018 for the team on the Whelen Modified Tour.

“We’re out here gaining approval, getting our feet wet, learning some race tracks that I haven’t learned yet and haven’t been on at all,” Lehmann said Wednesday. “Today is the first time I’ve ever been on [that track at] Thompson. I’ve been here to watch racing, but I’ve never driven a car here. I’m just trying to gain some experience this year. We don’t want to upset the rookie status or anything like that for next year. We want to gain approval for everything and then the goal and the plan as I know right now is to run full-time with the Tour next year.

“We’re just having fun right now. We’re not showing up looking to win races. We’re just having fun and learning.”

Lehmann started in go-karts at 10 years old and began running full-sized cars at Evergreen Raceway Park in Drums, Pa. at 14-years old.

He moved to Long Island threes later and began competing in the Charger divison at Riverhead Raceway. Last year he landed in the Crate Modified division with the John Visconti III owned team.

Lehmann said he’s not sure where he wants to see his racing career progress.

“I think if you say to yourself: ‘I’m going to be a Cup driver’ and you fail at that it sucks,” Lehmann said. “The way I’m looking at it is that I’m going to take this as far as I can take it. If making the Modified Tour is as far as I can go I’d be happy with that. It’s a passion of mine, it’s what I love to do and I’m happy just doing it.”

Lehmann said the team is unsure how the rest of their schedule will play out for 2017 with the Whelen Modified Tour. At Thompson Lehman faced down an all new task, much different from the quarter-mile bullring of Riverhead or third-mile tightness of Evergreen Raceway Park. The high banks of the .625-mile Thompson Speedway oval brought a new challenge. He finished 19th Wednesday after starting 17th in the 26-car field.

“It feels backwards,” Lehmann said of Thompson. “Every other race track I’ve been to you kind of back the corner up to go faster. This place you drive in deeper to go faster. Every other track that I’ve been to you drive to the bottom ito the center of the corner. This place you kind of drive uphill in the center of the corner. It’s a learning curve, but it’s awesome. It’s definite a cool place.”

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Comments

  1. D. Trickle says:

    Good luck! Always nice to see more competition

  2. Marie Visconti says:

    So Proud of CJ! Keep diggin’!! #GFTL

  3. Michael Machos says:

    I agree, good to see New teams on the WMT!!!

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