DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.- Shane Lee is posting notable results in a double-duty NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season at a challenging track. Lee has won races and is among track point race leaders in two divisions at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
Lee, 20, of Newton, N.C., is two points behind NASCAR Late Model track point leader Austin McDaniel and leads NASCAR Limited Late Model points at the banked .363-mile paved oval. He’s the defending champion in the Limited Late Models, was the division’s top rookie and won the Most Popular Driver Award in 2012.
A veteran of dirt track go-kart racing from ages 9-18, he didn’t drive a stock car until opening day at Hickory in 2012. He won in his third-career Limited Late Model start in 2012, and won in his fourth-career NASCAR Late Model start this year.
In NASCAR Division I Late Models Lee is just outside the top 20 in state points. In NASCAR Limited Late Models he leads the track points by 16 over Landon Huffman and ranks 15th in NASCAR Finalist Division II standings. His Late Model record to date in 13 starts is two wins, nine top fives and 12 top 10s. In Limited Late Models he has three wins, nine top fives and top 10s in all 11 starts.
He posted eighth-place finishes in both division’s features this past Saturday.
“At the end of last year we planned to add the Late Model for 2013,” Lee said. “We were just going to run the 10 100-lap Zloop Challenge races, but after the first few races we were leading the points. We won our first Late Model feature in a regular 50-lap race on the fourth night of the season. After that, we decided to race every week.”
Hickory’s Zloop-sponsored 100 lap race series offers an increased purse and its own point fund. The track’s “series within a series” gives bonus points to those who run the full weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule at Hickory.
Lee credits a lot of his success to crew chief, spotter and consultant Dexter Canipe, the 1997 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion. Canipe garages the Late Model at his shop and the Lee’s garage the Limited Late Model in their shop.
“Having Dexter helping teaches us a lot,” Lee said. Lee didn’t anticipate being so successful so quickly in NASCAR Late Models on a challenging track like Hickory. “I was just hoping to be able run with them,” Lee said. “As soon as we started finishing in the top five, I started to believe we could win.
“I’m pretty good at the 50-lap Late Model features and 35-lap Limited Late Model features,” Lee said. “The 100 lap races, between the tires and the track, we’d get real loose. I was just trying to keep the car underneath me.”
He quickly learned tire management and adapted to the faster Late Model.
“The cars drive two different ways,” Lee said. “The Limiteds let you carry a lot of momentum without using the brakes very much. The Late Model you bury it into the turns and get back in the gas as hard as you can coming out without breaking loose. When you hit the gas you can tell the difference between the two cars. Hickory is all about being able to come off the turns. Late Models are a lot more fun to drive.”
Hickory’s surface has less grip during the heat of the summer, Lee said. In cooler spring temperatures his Late Model qualifying times were around 15.09 seconds. In the heat of the summer that time is closer to 15.90 seconds. While the preferred line to pass is at the bottom of the turns, the groove tends to slide up the track in later laps of long distance races, he said.
Both of Lee’s race cars are Chevrolet Impalas based on Performance Warehouse chassis and owned by the driver’s father, Mike Lee. Additional crewmen on the Late Model include Chris Chapman, Aaron Volf and Stacy Stackletter. The Limited Late Model crew includes Glenn Moffat, Todd Jenkins, Joey Williams and Dean Trent.
Sponsors include the Lee family business LeeBoy Paving Equipment, Shuffletown Industrial Service, John Barnes Financial and Harrington Racing Engines. Lee attends Gaston (N.C.) Community College majoring in mechanical engineering. He is employed by LeeBoy Paving Equipment as a design engineer.
National Points Update: National point leader Lee Pulliam and his primary pursuer Deac McCaskill were idle over the weekend due to rain at both South Boston (Va.) Speedway and Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. The pavement Late Model drivers maintain their first and second-place ranking in national standings, 744-734.
SK Modified driver Keith Rocco took two feature wins and advanced to third-place in national standings. He won at Thompson (Conn.) International Speedway on Thursday and Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway on Friday. Rocco, the 2010 national champion has 674 points, 60 behind McCaskill.
Tommy Lemons Jr. dropped from third to fourth in the nation as he made no starts over the weekend due to rain. He has 657 points, 17 behind Rocco. C.E. Falk III moved to fifth in points from sixth with finishes of third and second in twin 75-lap features at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va. Those events were won by Matt Waltz and Nick Smith respectively. Falk has 653 points, four behind Rocco.
Ryan Preece fell from fifth to sixth in the national point race with finishes of second at Thompson and seventh at Stafford, in the same races won by Rocco. Preece is one point out of fifth place with 652 points. Completing the top 10 in national points are Chad Finchum (Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway and Motor Mile), Anthony Anders (Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway, Kingsport, Hickory, Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway and Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, N.C.), Burt Myers (Bowman Gray Stadium, Winston-Salem, N.C.), and Todd Ceravolo (Thompson and Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl).
Now in its 32nd season, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. There are 55 sanctioned tracks throughout the United States and Canada that participate.
A NASCAR Division I driver’s best 18 results through the Sept. 15 closing date count toward their state and national point totals and the champions are decided on overall point total. Once a driver reaches 18 starts, their point total increases incrementally as they replace some poorer runs with better results.
Under the point structure for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, a race winner receives two points for every car in the event up to 20 cars. Second place receives two fewer points and so on through the field. Race winners receive an additional five points. For example, if 20 cars are in the field, the winner receives 45 points, second place 38 and third 36. If there are 15 cars, the winner receives 35 points, second 28 and third, 26.
Track operators also designate support classes as NASCAR Divisions II-V and drivers in those divisions compete for points in the NASCAR Finalist program. The program brings added recognition to support division drivers. Points are kept separately for asphalt and dirt tracks.
More information on the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is available at www.nascarhometracks.com.