Story by: Corey Latham ~ [email protected]

Winston Salem, NC(January 25, 2012) — Shane Lee. Know the name? Well if you don’t, get used to it as it looks to be the future of racing. Shane had never raced anything higher than a go-kart prior to the 2012 season, so you would expect the jump straight to the second-to-highest tier, Limited Late Model division, would be rocky to say the least. There wasn’t even a pebble in the road… he simply destroyed the competition.

108Shane had already gained many accolades since he stared racing in 2006 in the karts, but jumping to the Limited Late Model division at Hickory Motor Speedway is a big jump. Hickory has the highest car counts and stoutest fields of any track in the region. The 19 year-old is a lot like the Late Model champ Austin McDaniel, laid back, quiet and reserved. On the track, he was the same way, plus having a hot rod out of Performancenter Racing Warehouse proved to be a deadly combination.

Lee would start the season out in grand fashion with a pair of fourth places finishes to winner Monty Cox, I mean this would be stellar in any other story; the kid had never been in a stock car before ever. But it was the next six races that garnered amazement as Lee won five out of the next six, and that was against fields of 16 cars or more in each one. Things like this don’t happen every day, yet Lee took it in stride and acted like he had been there many times.

175Two more young guns in Brandon Atkinson and Travis Byrd would take the next two victories as Lee would stumble a bit, but he would come right back again to get another “W” the following week. It looked like he was going to run away and hide from the competition, but being that good that often usually brings some rivals and controversy. Enter Zach Bruenger.

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Bruenger was another rookie coming into the Limited ranks this season but he had a whole different style than Lee, While Lee was calculating and free of incidents, Bruenger was a hard charger and aggressive. On September 15th, the race was coming down to the wire with Bruenger and Lee fighting for the lead. I say “fighting” lightly. They beat and banged for last ten laps, they actually wrecked 17 different times and we just didn’t see it. At the line, it was Lee, after pushing Bruenger up out of the groove, but it wasn’t over then though. Out of the pits comes the Lee pit crew and the fight was on as Bruenger took them to the ground. While Lee was doing donuts Bruenger was throwing punches. It was old-school Saturday night at its best.

164 (1)Too much time would pass through and the rivalry died out, it was nearly a month before the next and final race and Lee won in convincing fashion over Landon Huffman, Nick Waycaster, Gary Ledbetter and Bill Lett. The season was complete and Lee had distanced himself between Jeremy Pelfrey, Travis Byrd and Bruenger for the title picking up eight wins to boot. I would say, look for Lee to improve in his sophmore season but I honestly don’t know how you do it; his rookie season was something a 30 year veteran would kill for.