April 4, 2014 — J&J Racing photo — KINGSPORT, Tenn. — Since Kingsport Speedway opened back up for weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series sanctioned racing in 2011, after sitting closed since end of the 2002 season, second generation racer Lee (Randall) Tissot of Asheville, N.C., has been not only a fan favorite while competing in the Late Model Stock division, but a legitimate threat to visit victory lane each time he straps in behind the wheel.
With the start to each new racing season, drivers and race teams are always optimistic regarding their chances to win races and contend for a championship. For the 44-year-old Tissot and Kingsport-based J&J Racing, owned by father and son Jeff and Jason Herron, their goal is to win several races and at season’s end capture the track title in 2014.
“We’ve got a really good race team and I believe if we can come out of the gate with a strong finish, that will give us early momentum and help launch us on to a great year,” said Tissot recently at the track while participating in preseason testing. “Besides J&J Racing co-owners Jeff Herron and his son Jason, along with Mark Williams, David Ball and Kevin Morgan, a key addition to the race team since last fall is Kenny Hunley. Getting Hunley on board helping us with our shocks and setup and serving as crew chief, that’s a big deal. I believe he and I will work together and communicate well.
“Hunley brings many years of racing experience to the table, and he’s worked with different NASCAR touring series teams. Kenny teaches in the motorsports program at Northeast State Community College, and during the offseason we had the race car up there and on the pull-down rig. We learned a lot from doing that and it should pay dividends for us as we start the season. Every Friday night we should have a car capable of easily finishing in the top five, and if things go our way with no on-track problems, we’re going to win some races along the way. One thing at Kingsport Speedway that can either help you or hurt you is the invert following qualifying.”
Tissot knows all about winning races and also track and touring series championships, having visited victory lane at NASCAR sanctioned tracks in North Carolina in his hometown of Asheville, and at Hickory Motor Speedway and Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson, plus in the Palmetto State at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. He began his racing career in 1988 competing on “The River” at New Asheville Speedway, and following back-to-back NASCAR Late Model Stock track championships in 1998 and ’99, he decided to branch out and began competing with the NASCAR Slim Jim All-Pro Series, United Speed Alliance Racing Hooters Pro Cup Series, and United Auto Racing Association-Southern Touring Asphalt Racing Series.
Tissot has put together three consecutive winning seasons in the Model City at the .375-mile banked concrete oval, and finished top-five in points each year. In ’11, Tissot finished runner-up in points and was in contention to win the championship heading into the final event. He captured five Late Model Stock feature wins and recorded 18 top-five finishes in 21 starts. He also earned seven pole awards along the way. Beginning the 2012 campaign behind the wheel of his own car before stepping into the J&J Racing ride midway through the season, Tissot won one feature and recorded 12 top-five runs and finished fifth in points.
In racing there’s bad luck and good luck, and tough luck early in the 2013 season in all likelihood cost Tissot and the J&J Racing team opportunities to record possible wins or at worst top-five runs. But overall the weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series campaign was solid with two victories, 10 top-five and 15 top-10 finishes, along with earning three pole awards including setting a new track record and finishing fifth in points. Since the track reopened, Tissot has recorded a total of nine victories at “The Concrete Jungle” which includes a UARA-STARS victory back during the ’11 racing season.
J&J Racing’s Jason Herron is excited about the 2014 racing season.
“Not only myself, but everybody on the race team is really excited about getting this new racing season started,” said the younger Herron while taking a break from working on the car back at the race shop. “Hey, the way I see it, with Lee Tissot we’ve got one of the best short-track racers period. He’s got 25 years of racing experience and he’s raced and battled with some of the top competitors all across the Southeast. When Lee straps his helmet on and tightens those belts, I definitely like our chances of taking the checkered flag.
“Not only is Lee one of the best drivers, he grew up in the sport helping work on his late father’s (Randy Tissot) race cars and he’s always been responsible for working on his own equipment. That’s important, when you have a driver with knowledge of how to actually work on the race car, they can give good feedback to the crew members on changes that might need to be made on the car (chassis). And with Kenny Hunley now with us full-time serving as crew chief and handling shocks and setup, plus all the rest of us on the team, I really have a good feeling about this racing season. We’re all going to give it our best efforts and that’s the best you can do.”
After already being delayed twice by Mother Nature over the past couple of weeks, Kingsport Speedway looks to open the 2014 racing season on Saturday, April 5. An exciting six-division NASCAR Whelen All-American Series racing program is scheduled featuring Late Model Stock (60 laps), Street Stock (30 laps), Pure 4 (25 laps), Mod 4 (20 laps), Rookie Pure 4 (15 laps), and Legends (10 laps) action. The grandstand gates open at 11 a.m., with qualifying at noon, followed by green flag racing at 1 p.m.
J&J Racing is owned by father and son, Jeff and Jason Herron. Kenny Hunley serves as crew chief and also handles shocks and setup, Mark Williams is car chief, with David Ball chief mechanic, while Kevin Morgan is tire specialist and also spots for Tissot.
Supporters of J&J Racing on the No. 7 Ford Fusion include Ken Daffron’s Dalton Direct Carpets located in the Bloomingdale community, First Kingsport Credit Union, Jeff’s Auto Sales (Leicester, N.C), Northeast State Community College Motorsports Program, Hunley Built Shocks, Five Star Race Car Bodies, Hess Racing Products Inc., Ford Racing, and Signs by Roach Graphics.