By: Ryan Dyson | APC Racing Series
The APC Series took to Delaware Speedway on Canada Day for the Auto Parts Centres 100, the fourth event on the 2017 tour and first of two at the half-mile venue. The largest field of the season was on hand for the event as drivers all searched for a way to place their name in the record books with a win at the historic venue.
Bennett GM Pole Qualifying set the stage for the 100 lap event later on in the evening as the field full of talent chased the current track record of 18.238 set by Dale Shaw on September 20th of 2015. Local driver Matt Pritiko set fast time with a 18.327 to score the Bennett GM Pole Award over Brandon Watson, Andrew Gresel, Shae Gemmell and Jamie Cox. Gemmell and Cox tied in their lap times so the driver with the second fastest lap broke the tie between the two.
The 100 lap main event kicked off with Shae Gemmell on the pole position after the pill draw with Jamie Cox alongside him. Fast qualifier Matt Pritiko rolled off from the 3rd position after pulling the 3 pill. The field of 28 roared to life off of turn 4 to begin the 100 lap Canada Day celebration in front of a sizeable crowd. The opening lap of the race was led by the #22 of Jamie Cox as he made the high side stick on Gemmell. On lap 8 Shawn Chenoweth entered the pits after appearing to be out of power going down the back straightaway. The caution would come out on lap 10 for Chris Mitchell coming to a stop in turn 4. Chenoweth returned to the track and received the lucky dog.
On lap 11 Wayne Pilkey and Patrick Freel crashed in turn 2 resulting in the race’s second caution flag. Both cars had heavy damage and were forced to retire from the race. Shawn Chenoweth received the lucky dog once again and returned to the lead lap. Shae Gemmell led the lap prior to the caution meaning he was the control car to bring the field back to life for the lap 11 restart.
On lap 34 Shae Gemmell made a daring 4-wide pass through lapped traffic to maintain the top position as Brandon Watson chased him. The following lap saw the third caution flag come out as Ron Beauchamp Jr left a trail of sparks down the front straight with an apparent issue on his #60. On lap 36 Brandon Watson took the lead with a high side run, in similar fashion to the way Gemmell took the lead on lap 11.
Halfway through the 100 lap race Andrew Gresel advanced into the top 3 as Jamie Cox was shuffled back losing several spots on the high side. Over the next 45 laps Gemmel would stick with Watson and at times reel him in as they worked lapped traffic. Matt Pritiko and Andrew Gresel fought for the 3rd and 4th spots as Jamie Cox and Billy Schwartzenburg battled for 5th and 6th. This all happened while the leaders set a frantic pace, lapping into the top 15 cars in one of the longest green flag runs of the young 2017 season.
In the dying laps of the race it appeared as though Watson had the race on lock until the yellow was shown on lap 96 for Ron Beauchamp Jr going around off of turn 2. The ensuing restart was dusty as the field stacked up and cars went in every which way to avoid certain disaster. The second attempt at the restart was clean as Watson slipped away and Andrew Gresel moved into 2nd. With 2 laps to go Gemmell made the pass back on Gresel and would finish a career best runner up. Brandon Watson parked his #9 in Sauble Beach Motorsports Victory lane for the fourth straight time as Gresel, Jamie Cox, and Pete Shepherd III rounded out the top five finishing spots.
Up next for the APC Series is Flamboro Speedway on July 15th for the London Recreational Racing 100 at the Milgrove, Ontario speedway. The fifth stop on the 2017 season will mark the halfway point before the tour gears up for a frantic August that will see four races in three weekends at three different tracks. The event starts at 6:00pm and details will become available on www.APCRacingSeries.com in the coming days.