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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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Daytona road course entry lists

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NASCAR’s national series will make their debuts on the Daytona road course this weekend. The Cup, Xfinity and Truck events will be held without any practice or qualifying.

NASCAR is prohibiting drivers from competing in more than one series this weekend on the Daytona road course in an effort to get extra track time. NASCAR states that is to make the event fair for everyone.

Sunday’s Cup race will be broadcast on NBC.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for the races at the Daytona road course 

Cup – Go Bowling 235 (3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC)

Thirty-nine drivers are entered for the race at the Daytona road course.

JJ Yeley is in the No. 27 for Rick Ware Racing.

Joey Gase is in the No. 51 for Petty Ware Racing.

Gray Gaulding is in the No. 53 for Rick Ware Racing.

Brendan Gaughan is in the No. 62 for Beard Motorsports.

Timmy Hill is in the No. 66 for Motorsports Business Management.

Reed Sorenson is in the No. 77 for Spire Motorsports.

Click here for Cup entry list

 

Xfinity – UNOH 188 (3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

Thirty-eight cars are entered.

Andy Lally is back in the No. 02 Our Motorsports car after finishing fifth last week at Road America.

AJ Allmendinger, who finished second last week at Road America, is in the No. 16 for Kaulig Racing.

IMSA driver Earl Bamber will make his Xfinity debut this weekend in the No. 21 for Richard Childress Racing.

Brandon Gdovic will make his second start of the season, driving the No. 26 for Sam Hunt Racing.

Click here for Xfinity entry list

 

Truck – Sunoco 159 (Noon ET Sunday on FS1)

Thirty-nine trucks are entered in the race that will be held before the Cup event on Sunday on the Daytona road course.

Alex Tagliani will drive the No. 51 for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Click here for Truck entry list

Silly Season Scorecard: Christopher Bell moves back to JGR

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No surprise that Christopher Bell moves over to the No. 20 at Joe Gibbs Racing next season with Leavine Family Racing being sold and Erik Jones not remaining with JGR beyond this season. Joe Gibbs Racing made the announcement Monday.

While JGR lets the 24-year-old Jones, who has 133 Cup starts go, it brings in the 25-year-old Bell who has made 22 career Cup starts. Jones said before Sunday’s race he was “blindsided a little bit” by JGR’s move.

It’s part of the building momentum of Silly Season. In the last week, Team Penske signed Brad Keselowski to a reported one-year extension and Bubba Wallace said he has an offer for next year not only from Richard Petty Motorsports but also Chip Ganassi Racing.

Here’s how the Cup Silly Season scorecard looks as of Aug. 10.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2021

No. 00: Quin Houff enters the second year of his two-year deal with StarCom Racing.

No. 1: Kurt Busch enters the second year of a multi-year contract that Chip Ganassi Racing announced last season.

No. 2: Brad Keselowski and Team Penske announced a contract extension Aug. 3.

No. 4: Kevin Harvick signed a contract extension in February that will keep him at Stewart-Haas Racing through the 2023 season.

No. 8: Tyler Reddick said in a press conference Aug. 7 that he will be back with Richard Childress Racing next season.

No. 9: Chase Elliott is under contract with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2022 season.

No. 11: Denny Hamlin is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 12: Ryan Blaney and Team Penske announced a multi-year extension earlier this season.

No. 18: Kyle Busch is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 20: Christopher Bell moves from Leavine Family Racing to take over this ride in 2021.

No. 22: Joey Logano is tied to Team Penske “through the 2022 season and beyond.”

No. 24: William Byron is under contact with Hendrick Motorsports through at least 2021.

No. 47: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. enters the second year of a multi-year deal with JTG Daugherty Racing.

No. 88: Alex Bowman will race for Hendrick Motorsports under a one-year contract extension announced earlier this year.

 

Available/possibly available rides

No. 10: Aric Almirola is in a contract year at Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon is in a contract year at Germain Racing.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer is in a contract year to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto is in a contract year at Wood Brothers Racing. He said after the Aug. 9 Michigan race: “I haven’t really talked about that stuff for next year yet, but we’ve just been so focused and head down on digging and trying to make the playoffs and run well. We haven’t even really talked about it, so, hopefully, I stay here for a very long time to come and that’s what they had expressed to me when I came over here.”

No. 32: Corey LaJoie is in a contract year at Go Fas Racing.

No. 42: Matt Kenseth told NBC Sports on Aug. 8 in regards to talks with Chip Ganassi Racing for next year: “We really haven’t had any very meaningful discussions really about any of that to be honest with you.

No. 43: Bubba Wallace said Aug. 9 he has an offer from Richard Petty Motorsports and an offer from Chip Ganassi Racing to drive the No. 42 car next season.

No. 48: With Jimmie Johnson retiring from full-time competition, Hendrick Motorsports has this seat to fill.

No. 95: Leavine Family Racing announced it was selling its assets earlier this week. The buyer has not been announced. Christopher Bell will move to the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team for 2021.

Christopher Bell to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2021

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Christopher Bell will drive for the No. 20 next season for Joe Gibbs Racing, the team announced Monday, a decision that was expected with Erik Jones’ contract expiring after this season and it not being renewed. 

“I’m so appreciative of the opportunity I have this year with LFR and I want to finish this season strong for Bob (Leavine) and everyone there,” Bell said in a statement from the team. “At the same time, I’m extremely excited to return to Joe Gibbs Racing starting in 2021. It’s an organization I’m very comfortable with and have had a lot of success with.”

Said car owner Joe Gibbs: “We are excited to bring Christopher into our Cup Series program starting in 2021. He obviously had tremendous success in the Xfinity Series with us and we look forward to his return to JGR.”

Bell drove for JGR in in the Xfinity Series in 2018 and 2019, winning 15 races, before moving to the Cup Series and Leavine Family Racing this season. Leavine Family Racing announced last week that it has been sold.

Entering Sunday’s race at the Daytona International Speedway road course (3 p.m. ET on NBC), Bell is 19th in points. His best finish this season is fourth at the first Pocono race in late June.

Xfinity playoff grid after Road America

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Brandon Brown extended his hold on the final spot in the Xfinity playoff grid last weekend at Road America after struggles early in the race.

Brown needed to be pushed back to pit road before the field took the green because of a mechanical issue. He fell a lap down as his crew diagnosed the issue, got his lap back, scored four stage points in the second stage and finished 12th, one spot off his best career finish on a road course.

MORE: Brandon Brown wants to reward father with a special celebration

MORE: Austin Cindric wins at Road America 

Brown’s effort and Jeremy Clements misfortune in being collected in a crash to finish 29th led to Brown extending his lead on Clements for the final spot in the Xfinity playoff grid to 53 points. Myatt Snider is 73 points behind Brown. Eight races remain until the Xfinity playoffs begin Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Here is a look at the playoff grid. Drivers shaded in green are locked in the playoffs. Those shaded in yellow are in a playoff spot based on their point total. Drivers shaded in red are outside a spot in the Xfinity playoff grid.