Shane Lee fulfills 2nd grade prediction at Charlotte Motor Speedway

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In Shane Lee‘s trophy room sits an accurate prediction of the future from the early 2000s.

On the left side of an open booklet is a crudely drawn portrait of a race car with the No. 00 on the side. The car is depicted racing along a road under yellow sun and whipping by green grass.

On the right side, on page 25 of the booklet he used in second grade, Lee fulfilled a teacher’s assignment: Write what you want to be when you grow up.

Courtesy: Shane Lee

Lee wrote:

“When I grow up I am going to be a NASCAR driver. I am going to race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. My number is going to be 00 because my daddy’s number was 00 when he raced.”

Lee, now 24, fulfilled two-thirds of that prophecy Monday.

In two years and 30 starts in ARCA, Lee raced at other NASCAR tracks – Pocono, Michigan, Kansas, Chicago, Kentucky and even Daytona – but for whatever reason Charlotte wasn’t one of them.

“I’ve lived 20 minutes from there and never made a lap on the track in my life,” Lee told NBC Sports the Tuesday morning after he first drove a stock car at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Instead of a No. 00 car, it had come in an open Xfinity test with Lee driving Richard Childress Racing’s No. 3 Chevrolet.

Did it meet his expectations?

“It had more character to it than I thought.” Lee said. “Getting into both turns on that track is way rougher than it looked like on TV.”

Monday’s test in Charlotte was Lee’s only time in the car until the June 2 race at Pocono Raceway, a track Lee made four starts at in ARCA and earned a career-best result of fourth in 2016.

Lee admitted he was “probably more cautious” than he needed to be in the test.

“Guess I had a little bit left in me to make the car go faster,” Lee said. “Trying to make sure I don’t happen to wreck the car they’re planning on taking back for Ty (Dillon) to race (on May 26). … We went there to do what we want to do and learn as much as we could.”

Lee’s first Charlotte race will actually be on the road course layout in September.

On Jan. 24, RCR announced the five-driver lineup for its No. 3 Chevrolet in the Xfinity Series.

Joining veterans Austin and Ty Dillon, Brendan Gaughan and Jeb Burton was Lee.

A native of Newton, North Carolina, Lee spent the previous two seasons competing in ARCA after a few years competing in late models.

He had earned the 2012 and 2013 Limited Late Model Track Championships and been recognized as the 2013 North Carolina NASCAR Late Model Rookie of the Year. During that time he drove the No. 00, which his father Mike Lee used when he raced late models at tracks like Hickory Motor Speedway.

Monday’s test wasn’t Lee’s first time in a Xfinity car. That came three weeks ago at Bristol Motor Speedway, another track Lee had never been on before.

Shane Lee practices a Bristol Motor Speedway (Getty Images).

You wouldn’t have known it.

“After the first day of practice I figured we’d run in the top 10 just because of how the average practice speed was,” Lee said. “Everybody looked at me like I was crazy, but I thought with the Cup guys not in there, a lot of them guys are people I’ve raced with since I started racing. You sort of know whose going to be really good and who you’re going to compete with.”

Lee qualified eighth and finished eighth in Stage 1 and placed fourth in Stage 2. But with 17 laps to go, Lee lost his right front tire and brought out the caution. He was relegated to a 14th-pace finish.

Two races later, Lee was back in the No. 3 at Talladega, a track he made two ARCA starts at, finishing 11th and fifth. But after running in the top 10 most of the day, he ran out of gas as the field took the green flag in overtime. He placed 15th.

Lee thinks he’s “definitely pretty quick” at adapting to new forms of racing, but said “every track’s going to be different.”

“Most of them will still be new tracks to me, so every time I go to the track almost (there) will be a learning curve,” Lee said. “It sort of hurts, especially in the first practice with just me learning the car before I tell them what kind of adjustments they’re looking for. Just making sure to yourself you’re not doing something wrong to mess up the car.”

Lee’s learning curve is helped slightly by a two-year engineering degree he earned at a tech school in Gaston, North Carolina, before his ARCA deal came along.

“I figured I’d better have something if something don’t come up,” Lee said. “It helps when I look at (engineer) graphs and stuff when they’re trying to explain it. Everything they’re graphing, the data stuff we’re looking at is stuff I’m used to seeing, even though it’s in different words. It helps out on that part pretty good.”

While he uses his engineering education to work on his own late model stock car, Lee would like to never have to get his four-year degree and have to use it outside racing.

“Hopefully the racing works out,” Lee said, “so I don’t ever have to apply it.”

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Sponsor adds more races in 2023 with Josh Berry

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Jarrett Companies will increase the number of races it will sponsor Josh Berry‘s No. 8 JR Motorsports ride in 2023, the Xfinity Series team announced Monday.

Jarrett Companies will sponsor Berry in six races after serving as the primary sponsor in three races in 2022. Those six races will be Phoenix (March 11), Richmond (April 1), Dover (April 29), Atlanta (July 8), Indianapolis (Aug. 12) and Texas (Sept. 23).

The deal gives Berry at least 26 races with sponsorship for next season. Bass Pro Shops will serve as the primary sponsor of Berry’s car in 11 races in 2023. Tire Pros is back with JRM and will sponsor Berry in nine races in the upcoming season.

Berry, who reached the Xfinity title race and finished fourth in the points, will have a new crew chief in 2023. Taylor Moyer will take over that role with Mike Bumgarner serving as JRM’s director of competition.

The 2023 Xfinity season begins Feb. 18 at Daytona International Speedway.

 

Where are they now? Buddy Parrott enjoying down time

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Buddy Parrott played outsized roles in two of the most dramatic races in NASCAR history.

Now 83 years old and retired from the sport since 2001, Parrott looks back on those two days as highlights of a career that began in the early 1970s.

In the 1990 Daytona 500, champion driver Dale Earnhardt seemed on course to end his frustration in NASCAR’s biggest event. He held the lead roaring down the backstretch on the last lap. Suddenly, Earnhardt slowed with a blown tire.

The lead was inherited by Derrike Cope, who charged to the checkered flag to score one of racing’s biggest upsets.

Parrott was Cope’s crew chief.

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: Memorable quotes through the years

In 1984, Richard Petty edged Cale Yarborough to win the summer race at Daytona International Speedway. It was Petty’s 200th – and final – win.

Parrott was Petty’s crew chief.

Those victories were high marks in a long pit-road career that saw Parrott’s drivers win dozens of races. He worked with, among others, Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace, Jeff Burton and Petty and for team owners Jack Roush and Roger Penske.

Parrott remains active at 83, although he admits to having moved to a slower gear.

“I haven’t been living on the edge,” Parrott told NBC Sports. “I’ve been taking it really easy. I told my sons when you get to be 80 you can do anything you want because basically you’ve already done it.”

MORE: NASCAR, ARCA 2023 schedules

His strongest current connection to NASCAR is as a voter in the annual Hall of Fame balloting.

After more than 20 years roaming pit roads as a crew chief, Parrott moved into a general manager role at Roush Racing in 1997. He retired four years later and didn’t look back.

“I finally told Jack one day, ‘I don’t have time to ride my motorcycle,’ ” Parrott said. “He looked at me and said, ‘What do you want to do about it?’ I said, ‘I’m ready to retire.’ He told me I could work whatever schedule I wanted, but I decided that was it. I didn’t have a going-away thing or whatever.”

Parrott spent much of the next 15 years traveling with his wife, Judy, who died in 2016, and playing with his grandchildren.

“I had a great time in retirement because Judy was ready and I was ready,” he said. “We had a lot of fun. We’d go to Florida for two and three months at a time. I’m so happy that I didn’t hang on and go to the shop every day and try to find something to do. I spent that time with Judy, and we had 16 years of good retirement.”

Parrott, a native of Gastonia, N.C., lives in Statesville, N.C. His sons, Todd and Brad, also were NASCAR crew chiefs.

MORE: Jody Ridley’s Dover win an upset for the ages

Parrott is perhaps best remembered as crew chief for Rusty Wallace, Team Penske and the No. 2 black cars sponsored by Miller Lite. From 1992-94, they won 19 races and were consistently competitive at the front.

“I still get a lot of cards sent to me to sign from those years,” Parrott said. “I can say that was some of the happiest times I had. Those years with Rusty – and then with Jack Roush – really stand out. And who in the hell could not have fun having a beer sponsor?”

 

 

NASCAR Awards to air at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Joey Logano didn’t need much time to answer the question.

Who would the two-time Cup champion want to introduce him at the NASCAR Awards?

Racing icon Mario Andretti, Logano immediately said. 

And there was Andretti on the stage at the Music City Center introducing Logano, the 2022 Cup champion. Watch that and the rest of the night’s festivities at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock. You can order Peacock here.

MORE: See the red carpet scene

MORE: Sport shows support for Gibbs family at NASCAR Awards

NBC Sports’ Marty Snider and Kim Coon co-hosted the show along with Fox Sports’ Kaitlyn Vincie. The Cup, Xfinity and Truck champions were honored. Xfinity champion Ty Gibbs, whose father died hours after Gibbs won the Xfinity title last month, received a standing ovation and thanked the industry for its support.

The highlight of the night for Logano was having Andretti on stage to introduce him.

“He’s just been a great role model for me, not only as a racer, but as a person for so long,” Logano said afterward. “I had his picture on my wall. I looked at Mario Andretti before I went to sleep every night as a kid. I thought it was the coolest thing that he signed it to me.”

NASCAR Awards and Champion Celebration
Cup champion Joey Logano on stage with racing icon Mario Andretti during the NASCAR Awards in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Logano and Andretti have gotten to know each other through the years. Logano ran a throwback car that honored Andretti at Darlington Raceway in 2015 and 2021.

But none of that compared to being on stage with Andretti.

“That’s still like a pinch-me moment,” Logano said. “It’s Mario Andretti. He’s the man. The fact that he knows my name I think is really, really cool.”

Catch the NASCAR Awards at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock

Sport shows support for Gibbs family at NASCAR Awards

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The NASCAR community showed its support Thursday at the NASCAR Awards for the Gibbs family, grieving the death of Coy Gibbs on Nov. 6. 

During his interview on stage, car owner Joe Gibbs thanked the NASCAR industry for its support. (The NASCAR Awards show airs at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock).

Coy Gibbs, son of Joe Gibbs and father of Xfinity champion Ty Gibbs, died hours after seeing Ty Gibbs win the series title last month at Phoenix Raceway. Coy Gibbs, 49, was the vice chairman and chief operating officer at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR chief operating officer, introduced Ty Gibbs at the NASCAR Awards and noted that “everyone gathered tonight is all a part of the NASCAR family, and I know I speak for everyone that the entire NASCAR family is 100% percent behind this young man.”

Ty Gibbs received a standing ovation.

“Thank you,” he told the crowd, “that means a lot.”

Ty Gibbs spoke for less than a minute, thanking his team, sponsors, fans and the NASCAR community.

He closed his speech by saying “And thanks to my family. I love you. I hope everybody has a great offseason. Enjoy it. Thank you for all the support. Thank you for all the claps. I really appreciate it.”

Ty Gibbs spoke to the media earlier Thursday. Asked how he was doing, he said: “I’ve been doing good. Thank you for asking and definitely appreciate you guys. We’ve been doing good, doing a lot of stuff this week. … It’s been fun to experience this stuff.”

Asked about Joe Gibbs addressing the organization after Coy’s death, Ty Gibbs politely said: “For right now, I’m not going to touch on any of that subject at all. I’m just going to stick with all the racing questions and go from there.”

Cup champion Joey Logano said he spent time with 20-year-old Ty Gibbs on Wednesday at the champion’s dinner.

Logano said he told Ty Gibbs that “we’re here for you. You need something reach out.”