MOORESVILLE, N.C. (Feb. 20, 2017) – Shane Lee has got a lot to look forward to this season if the rest of the year shapes up to be anything like Daytona. In his first race in the No. 22 Big Tine Ford Fusion for Cunningham Motorsports (CMS), Lee came away with a career-best finish of third on the 2.5-mile superspeedway in the Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 Driven by General Tire.
“I truly believe we had the first or second place car,” said Lee. “I knew that the 52 car was good all week…I’d even told him before the race that our cars worked really well together. We would have obviously preferred to leave with a win, but to come out of Daytona with a top-three is definitely something to look forward to. I can’t thank Big Tine, Kerry Scherer, Briggs Cunningham and the entire team enough for giving me this opportunity and putting together a strong car for the first race of the year.”
Lee didn’t have the position he’d hoped for at the start of the race, lining up 19th out of a full field of 40, but quickly made moves to get within the top-ten with teammate Dalton Sargeant not far behind. After pitting under caution for fuel only on lap 22, Lee found himself restarting 16th. It didn’t take long, though, to get back to the front of the field and midway through the 80-lap race, the No. 22 Big Tine Ford Fusion was within the top five, and eventually took the lead for one lap before coming back under caution.
“We just worked our way up slowly and everything worked out pretty decent for us,” said Lee. “We had a decent pit stop…didn’t slide the tires. When we had the lead that one time on the outside, we had the caution come and we just didn’t have the right car behind us to push up there and we lost a couple spots and we just had to fall in and I think that sort of cost us the race.”
Cautions continued to play a major role throughout the night. Lee and teammate Sargeant were never quite able to line up right during the restarts to be able to work the draft and move to the top before the race was called under a red flag. Despite not ending the night in victory lane, crew chief Paul Andrews said while the cautions didn’t exactly play in their favor, it was good to see Lee and the No. 22 car come out strong for the season-opener.
“I’m really really happy with the job Shane did, the way the car ran…and I’m happy with the whole organization for what we did with both cars,” said Andrews. “I thought we had a winning race car, we just never could quite complete the pass to get in the lead for good. We definitely had a lot of good opportunities, too, but the caution would come out or something would happen, but there’s nothing you can do about that. I’m disappointed with the finish, but it was a good showing and we have a lot of good things to work with this season.”
Now the attention turns from superspeedways to short tracks as the next race for CMS will be the Music City 200 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville in April. Until then, to stay up-to-date with all Cunningham news, follow along on social media through Facebook (@CunninghamRace), Twitter (@Cunningham_Race) and Instagram (@CunninghamRace). Be sure to also keep up with Shane Lee by following his social media on Facebook (@ShaneLeeRacing), Twitter (@ShaneLeeRacing) and Instagram (@ShaneLee_00).