Lee struts stuff at Speedway

June 06, 2011|By C.J. LOVELACE |
  • Kyle Lee, of Mercersburg, Pa., leads the pack through a turn during the Lt. 160 Honda class feature at Hagerstown Speedway on Sunday night. Lee won twice during the USAC Generation Next series stop.
Photo courtesy of Debi Supan

HAGERSTOWN — Some of the brightest young talents in auto racing from across the country converged on the “little track” at Hagerstown Speedway last weekend, with several local drivers walking away with new hardware.

The United States Auto Club “Generation Next” quarter midget tour brought in 167 entries from across the country for the inaugural Mason Dixon Shootout. Numerous drivers from the Hagerstown Quarter Midget Association participated, and they won eight of 16 features in the two-day event.

Kyle Lee, of Mercersburg, Pa., turned in the best performance by any local driver. The 12-year-old won two of his three features, taking checkered flags in the Lt. 160 Honda and Mod classes.

Lee’s father, Andy Lee, said this was the third time his son has won a nationally sanctioned event.

“This is as close to the best as you’re going to get,” Andy Lee said. “These are the top drivers financially and from talent, and to beat that level of competition here on our home track, it’s just an honor.”

Bryant Dawson, of Phoenix, Ariz., also won two races — the Heavy AA and Senior Animal classes.

Quarter midget racing can be a springboard for bigger and better opportunities for these young drivers, according to Debi Supan, who handled USAC public relations for the event.

Some of NASCAR’s most recognizable stars — like Jeff Gordon, Bobby and Terry Labonte, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano — got their starts in quarter midgets. The sons of former and current NASCAR racers Ernie Irvan and Jeff Burton took to the Hagerstown track, and several other teams have sponsorships from big-name NASCAR teams, Supan said.

“We had an exciting weekend for a lot of kids — a lot of different kids who are on this USAC “Generation Next” tour and brought together a lot of kids that haven’t run USAC events before,” Supan said. “We had a great car count and great racing.”

Other members of HQMA taking wins were Luke Fitz, Blaine Leydig, Kasey Fitz, Dale Dupler, Brian Zyck and Dane Schwarz.

Local drivers have distinct advantages when it comes to setting up the car against out-of-town competitors, said Andy Lee.

“Home track played a huge advantage,” he said. “We kind of know as the day goes on what to do with the race car and adjust.”

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