Late Model veteran Shane Lee is making the move up into the NASCAR ranks.
The 22-year-old from Newton, North Carolina will be racing in three Camping World Truck Series and nine ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards races in 2016. His debut with the team will be on February 13th when he competes in the Lucas Oil 200 at the Daytona International Speedway — ARCA’s season-opening race.
“It’s very exciting to get the chance to move up from Late Models and run bigger tracks and see what we can do,” Lee told POPULAR SPEED. “It’s pretty hard to move up. We got lined up with Dwayne Gaulding and Jason White, it really helped get me up into a higher level. We’re looking forward to running Daytona.”
Lee is a former Limited Late Model champion at Hickory Motor Speedway and has won four Late Model Stock Car races throughout his career — all at Hickory. Throughout his Late Model career, he’s also made starts at Myrtle Beach Speedway and Martinsville Speedway in the Valley Star Credit Union 300, Late Model Stock Car racing’s grandest event.
Despite his wealth of experience in Late Model racing, he knows nothing can prepare him for when he hits the high banks at Daytona.
“I don’t know how much the Late Models and Daytona will compare,” Lee commented. “90 mph and 190 mph are a big difference. I don’t know what to expect until we get out on the track.”
Lee’s nine-race schedule in the ARCA series includes races at Talladega Superspeedway, Pocono Raceway, Michigan International Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway and Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis along with a handful of others. He will also run NCWTS races at Martinsville Speedway, Gateway Motorsports Park, and Michigan International Speedway.
Lee recognizes acclimating himself to the cars and trucks won’t be his only challenge. Live, green flag pit stops, which are not used at all in Late Model Stock Car racing, and group qualifying are two immediate things he knows he will have to pick up on and learn to be successful.
“There’s a lot of stuff,” Lee remarked. “The biggest thing with both ARCA and the truck that I expect to struggle with is pit stops. That’s something I’m going to be new at. Group qualifying will be different. It will be interesting and fun to learn. The only place we ever ran group qualifying at is Myrtle Beach and Martinsville.”
Lee has strong expectations for himself, but his expectations come with the reality that he is new to the bigger cars he will be racing in for much of 2016.
“Hopefully we can run pretty good,” Lee stated. “We’ll be with good guys. Equipment is pretty good so we shouldn’t have any problems running with them. The draft will be the biggest learning curve, just not screwing that up.”
Throughout the season, Lee hopes to gain experience and be a contender in the ARCA Racing Series while also scoring solid finishes in the Truck Series. However, he recognizes that he has to finish races and not make too many mistakes.
“Most of it is just making sure we finish all the races,” Lee explained. “Most of it is getting approval to run other races. I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t be in the top-10. We should be in the top-five in ARCA. We should be running pretty good in that. Top-10 or top-15 in Trucks may be a little more difficult.”
If this season goes according to plan, Lee anticipates racing full-time in either the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series or NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2017.
“After this year, we’re looking at doing the full-time Truck or XFINITY, but it all depends on approval and sponsorship and what we can get,” Lee commented. “White Gaulding Partners is doing all the marketing stuff; they’ve done a pretty good job with that.”
While Lee is focused on NASCAR racing, he still plans to have some fun in Late Model Stock Car racing. He says he plans to run the season opener at Hickory on March 5th and hopes to make a few starts in the Championship Auto Racing Series (CARS) Late Model Stock Tour where he scored two top-10 finishes in three starts in 2015.
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