3rd-generation driver is 1st in family to tackle dirt

Kyle Shano and his father built his UMP modified together. His best finish to date has been fifth in his inaugural modified event.
Kyle Shano and his father built his UMP modified together. His best finish to date has been fifth in his inaugural modified event. COURTESY OF KYLE SHANO

Kyle Shano’s family and racing have been synonymous for decades, but the 23-year-old Mooresville resident is the first to tackle dirt track competition.

An interior specialist for JGL Racing in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series, Shano is competing in UMP modifieds this year with plans to race at several dirt tracks in the Carolinas, including Carolina Speedway in Gastonia, East Lincoln Speedway, Friendship Speedway in Elkin and Cherokee (S.C.) Speedway.

The races in which he competes will be confined to the Xfinity Series’ off-weekends and tracks where events are held on Wednesday and Thursday. He’s also eyeing the Renegades DIRT Winter Series.

“Hopefully, we can start touring if we can get a little (financial) assistance and time,” Shano said.

A third-generation driver, Shano began racing go-karts at age 5 with his father when his family moved to North Carolina from San Diego.

His father, Dave Shano, had competed in late model events on Southern California’s short tracks. He decided to relocate to the Tar Heel state while working with David Green’s Busch Series (now Xfinity Series) team.

After go-karts, Shano progressed through quarter midgets, Outlaw sprint cars, Bandoleros and Legends before settling on the UMP Modified Division two years ago.

“It is a little cheaper than racing asphalt,” Shano said in explaining his decision to race a dirt car. “Also, a lot of the better NASCAR drivers started in dirt, so I was kinda following them a little bit. And it’s fun.”

Since moving to UMP modifieds, Shano’s races have been sporadic due to his full-time job and sponsorship. He’s competed in six races with his best finish coming in his modified debut, fifth at County Line Raceway in Elm City.

Shano and his father, the hauler driver for Penske Racing’s No. 22 Xfinity Series team, built his modified together. Ed Peele, an engineer at Penske, also has helped a great deal and the younger Shano considers him his crew chief.

His uncles, Glen and Jeff Shano, are the hauler drivers for Michael Waltrip Racing’s two NASCAR Sprint Cup teams and will help occasionally on their nephew’s modified. It was his grandfather Robert Shano, however, who started the family in the sport when he raced flat-head street stocks in the 1960s while living in Toronto, Canada. He, too, later moved to North Carolina.

While racing consumes most of Shano’s time, it isn’t his sole interest. He wrestled for Mooresville High School in his teenage years and planned to continue in the sport while attending college. However, with the time racing demanded, Shano turned to cage fighting, winning the flyweight Grand Prix title in Danville, Va., in July 2013.

His next scheduled fight is May 9 in Mooresville when he’ll compete with The Rock MMA.

“When I’m not training for a fight I’m racing,” said Shano, who has been cage fighting for four years.

He plans to return to UNC Charlotte and get his engineering degree once he has saved enough money. He has completed his first two years of college.

Church begins defense of PASS title

PASS South Super Late Model champion Tyler Church began defense of his 2014 title with a victory in the series season opener at Dillon (S.C.) Motor Speedway.

The Kannapolis resident took the lead from Sanford’s Jody Measamer with 23 laps remaining, then withstood a late race restart to win the South Carolina Clash 125. For Church, anything less than a win could have been a premature ending to the 2015 season for the family-financed team. Money was borrowed against his father’s Hickory house so they could compete in the event.

Mooresville’s Cole Timm, last year’s runner-up in the championship battle, posted fast time during qualifying, but had to settle for an eighth-place finish. Zane Smith, also of Mooresville, took third in the event.

The next PASS race is March 21 at Anderson (S.C.) Motor Speedway. It will be the sanctioning body’s first national event this season.

Conner collects 6th PASS Pro Late Model victory

Kannapolis resident Kodie Conner snatched the lead from Chandler Smith, of Jasper, Ga., with nine laps remaining to win the PASS Pro Late Model season opener at Dillon (S.C.) Motor Speedway. Conner’s sixth career PASS Pro Late Model victory came on a weekend in which Conner’s car suffered two blown engines.

Zachary Dabbs, from Mooresville, finished eighth in the event.

McDaniel victorious at Hickory

Harrisburg’s Austin McDaniel won the late model season opener at Hickory Motor Speedway. McDaniel is a two-time late model track champion at the historic facility. Concord’s Dylan Smith placed eighth, while Payton Ryan, also of Concord, finished 12th.

In the limited late model feature, Travis Byrd of Sherrills Ford emerged victorious after starting on the pole. Ryan Repko, from Denver, placed ninth, Mooresville’s Akinori Ogata finished 12th, Kannapolis’ Jake Ruggles took 14th and Concord’s Austin Powell finished 17th.

Deb Williams is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Deb? Email her at