HEPWORTH, ON – APC Series teams made the trek north to Sauble Speedway for round seven of the season, and the first of two races on the holiday long weekend. 29 teams made the call, all fighting for one of the 26 starting positions and the top step on the podium. Crunch time in the championship battle would see drivers fighting for every inch on the track as just eight points separated the top four entering the weekend and 38 markers separated the top 10.
Group qualifying sessions kicked-off the competition portion of the doubleheader weekend as teams fought to be in the top 18 and lock themselves into the race and avoid the last chance qualifier. Shae Gemmell recorded the fastest time in Lucas Oil qualifying, bettering Treyten Lapcevich and Tim Ellis. The last chance qualifier was won by Gord Shepherd.
Tom Gibbons would lead the field to life with Jordan Sims to his high side, but it would be Sims getting the credit as leading the opening lap. Good Shepherd went around in turn four on the opening lap, bringing out the caution flag for the first time. Sims would lead the opening laps of the event before the caution came out for the second time on lap seven when JR Fitzpatrick went around.
The restart saw more trouble as a big stack-up off of turn three resulted in Jason Parker slowing and the yellow was shown once again. The Hy-Grade Steel Roofing Shakin it Up 100 Presented by Shell Rotella got into a rhythm after the restart as Sims continued to pace the field up front. Josh Stade worked his way up to second in the green flag run and would take the lead on lap 29. The lead was short lived as a crazy three wide battle saw Tom Gibbons come out on top.
Ryan Kimball took the race lead on lap 34 and immediately opened up a sizeable gap to the field and quickly caught the tail of the field. The green flag run continued until lap 63 when Jo Lawrence went around off of turn two and the yellow flag was shown for the fourth time. Josh Stade was shuffled back on the restart and fell from second to seventh in matter of a few corners.
Another long green flag run saw the field run mostly nose to tail before lap 89 opened a string of yellow flags. Coming down the front straightaway on lap 89, Treyten Lapcevich went up in smoke and came to rest in turn one with a trail of fluid behind him after the engine appeared to expire. The restart was trouble for Shae Gemmell as he went around and into the infield grass bringing out the yellow for the sixth time. The next attempt at a restart saw Josh Stade go around in almost the exact same place.
Matt Pritiko would take the race lead on the third attempt at the restart before Andrew Gresel was sent around in turn two on lap 91. A big melee in turn three on lap 91 with JR Fitzpatrick and Junior Farrelly getting together slowed the race pace for the ninth time. Danny Benedict would use the high side to take the race lead on the restart and clear Matt Pritiko before the 10th and final caution came out on lap 93 for a stopped Ryan Kimball.
Benedict would take the high side for the restart but would be unable to clear Pritiko in the same fashion he did the prior restart. The two would race side by side to the end as Shawn Chenoweth looked on from the third spot. Matt Pritiko was able to lead the final lap after a terrific side by side battle that brought fans to their feet.
The victory is Pritiko’s second of the season and third win at Sauble Speedway. Danny Benedict recorded a career best finish with second, Shawn Chenoweth earned his first podium of the season after driving from 13th, and Jordan Sims and Jake Sheridan rounded out the top five finishing positions.
The doubleheader weekend continues on Sunday, August 4th with the annual running of the Spira Fire Protection Beat the Heat 100. Teams will have a quick turnaround with just a day to prepare for the eighth race on the 2019 season.
Ryan Dyson – APC Series PR
Photos by Dave Franks Photography