INNISFIL, Ontario — When everything is going your way, it’s quite the feeling, and that’s what J.R. Fitzpatrick is experiencing right now. He would take the top spot just past halfway, pacing the field the rest of the way en route to winning the APC Auto Parts United Late Model Series race at Sunset Speedway.
Rick Spencer-Walt laid down the best lap in time trials at 14.074 seconds in front of Blair Wickett (14.094), Andrew Gresel (14.107), Josh Stade (14.122), and J.R. Fitzpatrick (14.127). Notably, Wickett would rip the drive shaft out of the car after putting down the lap, with the team attempting to fix before the green flag but unable to do so.
Once the qualifying invert was in play, Ryan Kimball started pole in front of Tom Gibbons, Dale Shaw, Spencer-Walt, Shae Gemmell, Gresel, Stade, Kyle Steckly, Fitzpatrick, Jake Sheridan, Travis Hallyburton, Danny Benedict, Erik Dalla Riva, Treyten Lapcevich, Jordan Sims, Connor James, Billy Schwartzenburg, Gord Shepherd, Jordan Howse, Shawn Chenoweth, Jade Franklin, Dwayne Baker, Shawn McGlynn, and Wickett.
Ryan Kimball grabbed the advantage off the drop of the green flag as Shaw and Gibbons battled for second, with Shaw getting the spot on Lap 2. Gemmell, Spencer-Walt, Gresel, and Sheridan would follow him through over the next couple of laps, dropping Gibbons outside of the top-five. Gemmell looked to continue moving forward, passing Shaw for second on Lap 7, with Spencer-Walt following him through three laps later. Gresel ran fifth as Sheridan and Steckly battled for sixth.
With 12 laps on the board, Kimball continued to lead, with Spencer-Walt up to second in front of Gemmell, Shaw, Gresel, Steckly, Sheridan, Fitzpatrick, Stade, and Lapcevich. Fitzpatrick would then challenge Sheridan for seventh on Lap 16, but all eyes were on the front of the field.
Spencer-Walt would get alongside Kimball for the top spot on Lap 17, with the caution coming out two laps later as Franklin blew a motor going into turn one, spinning in the oil and hitting the outside wall. Behind him, Baker and Howse got caught up in the oil, also going around. With 82 laps to go, Spencer-Walt led Kimball, Gemmell, Shaw, Gresel, Steckly, Fitzpatrick, Stade, Lapcevich, Benedict, Shepherd, Hallyburton, and Sims.
Rick Spencer-Walt got a good restart to take the advantage, with Gemmell alongside Kimball for second, and Shaw and Gresel side-by-side for fourth. Gemmell snagged second on Lap 21, with Gresel following him through, as Shaw tried to do the same. Behind them, Fitzpatrick worked his way up to sixth, before the second yellow flag at Lap 24 for an incident involving Benedict, Shepherd, and Sims. With 77 laps to go, Spencer-Walt led Gemmell, Gresel, Kimball, Shaw, Fitzpatrick, Steckly, Stade, Lapcevich, Hallyburton, and Chenoweth.
Spencer-Walt got another good restart in front of Gemmell, Gresel, Kimball, Fitzpatrick, Stade, Steckly, and Shaw, with Lapcevich and Della Riva side-by-side for ninth. Lapcevich got the spot on Lap 27, bringing Howse and Sheridan through with him. Further up the field, Fitzpatrick continued to move forward, passing Kimball for fourth on Lap 29, as James and Chenoweth battled for 11th ahead of Shepherd, with James getting the spot three laps later.
Stade would look to make his way by Kimball on Lap 34 for fifth, with Fitzpatrick alongside Gresel for third a couple laps later. Fitzpatrick would get the spot, as the battle for fifth continued. Meanwhile, Baker headed down pit road, done for the event as a result of the damage sustained on Lap 19.
With 38 laps on the board, Spencer-Walt continued to lead ahead of Gemmell, Fitzpatrick, Gresel and Stade, as Shaw and Kimball battled for sixth. Shaw got the spot on Lap 40, bringing Steckly and Lapcevich through with him. Kimball continued to drop back, also getting passed by Sheridan on Lap 44, before going for a spin a lap later in turn two for the third yellow flag.
Spencer-Walt got another good restart, as Gresel battled Gemmell for second. Gresel got the spot on Lap 47 ahead of Fitzpatrick, with Shaw looking to follow them through, as Stade ran sixth. Fitzpatrick would get alongside Gresel for second on Lap 49, as Gemmell held down fourth in front of Shaw, with Stade battling Steckly for sixth. There were battles throughout the top-10, with Shaw alongside Gemmell for fourth on Lap 53, and James and Howse side-by-side for 10th.
Fitzpatrick would take over the runner-up spot on Lap 56 ahead of Gresel, with Shaw getting fourth a lap later in front of Gemmell, Stade, Steckly, Lapcevich, Sheridan, Howse, James, and Benedict. Steckly would then get alongside Stade for sixth on Lap 60, completing the pass a lap later, with Lapcevich looking to follow him through. Steckly hoped to climb forward, getting alongside Gemmell for fifth on Lap 65, taking the spot a lap later, with Lapcevich taking over seventh in front of Stade as Sheridan rounded out the top-nine.
The focus shifted to the top spot on Lap 68, with Fitzpatrick getting alongside Spencer-Walt for the lead. J.R. Fitzpatrick would take over the top spot a lap later, as Spencer-Walt ran second in front of Gresel, Shaw, and Steckly, with Gemmell and Lapcevich side-by-side for sixth. Lapcevich would take over sixth on Lap 71 in front of Gemmell, Stade, Sheridan, and Howse, with Benedict and James side-by-side for 11th ahead of Gibbons. Stade would get alongside Gemmell for seventh on Lap 74, taking the spot a couple laps later, as Sheridan looked to follow him through.
Sheridan would take over eighth on Lap 78 ahead of Gemmell and Howse, as James and Benedict continued to battle in front of Gibbons. Howse would get alongside Gemmell a couple laps later, taking over ninth as James slotted into 11th in front of Benedict, Gibbons, Chenoweth, Schwartzenburg, Gibbons, and Hallyburton.
The battles raged on towards the front of the field, with Shaw holding off Steckly’s challenging for fourth, and instead seeing Lapcevich take over fifth with nine laps to go. He would then get alongside Shaw for fourth, as Benedict challenged Gemmell for 10th.
J.R. Fitzpatrick held on the rest of the way to pick up the victory in front of Rick Spencer-Walt, Andrew Gresel, Dale Shaw, and Treyten Lapcevich.
Categories: Race Reports, Sunset Speedway, United Late Models of Ontario Tour
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