HEPWORTH, ON – On Saturday, Aug. 22, the APC Series returned to action for its second stop on the 2020 tour on a warm summer night by the beach at the flat, tight, and unforgiving confines of Sauble Speedway.
While race fans tuned in live on GForceTV, the race teams all worked feverishly to chase the checkered flag and reach the top step of the podium. Jo Lawrence entered the event as the points leader coming off of his first career APC Series win just two weeks prior at Jukasa, while former series champion Brandon Watson lurked just 1 marker behind entering the night. In a season that consists of half the regular number of races, mistakes must be few and far between for drivers to remain in title contention and Sauble Speedway did not do some drivers any favours in that district.
Group qualifying would set the starting lineup for the Stewart’s 100 presented by Quaker State as 25 of the top late models in the province took five timed laps, all with the common goal of getting the best starting position possible for the 100-lap event later on in the evening. Shae Gemmell scored the fastest lap with a time of 14.249, bettering Jake Sheridan and Pete Shepherd.
The Stewart’s 100 presented by Quaker State saw Jake Sheridan on the pole alongside hometown hero Andrew Gresel. Sheridan lead the opening lap before the yellow came out for Jo Lawrence going around off of turn two. The restart saw Gresel clear Sheridan as Fitzpatrick kept close behind the duo. While leading the field, Gresel went up in smoke on lap 11 and the yellow flag was deployed as several cars went around in apparent fluid from the 81 machine.
After the restart, Sheridan beganed to walk away from the field after assuming the lead. Josh Stade would slot in behind Fitzpatrick and sit in a podium spot as the 1/4 mark in the race came. Jo Lawrence feverishly moved through the field and was back to 11th by lap 25. Mat Box slowed on lap 30 after it appeared something broke exiting turn four while battling for position, this triggered a caution flag.
Shae Gemmell moved into the top five after the restart with Treyten Lapcevich just in front, however Gemmell had a tear full of Brandon Watson behind. Watson entered the top five on lap 38 as Ryan Kimball began to pressure Gemmell, who was looking to back up his Sauble win one year prior. Series rookie Gary Adriaensen continued to run inside the top ten as halfway in the race neared, running just ahead of Jo Lawrence. The yellow was displayed on lap 43 as Tim Ellis found himself facing the wrong way in turn two.
Just as the field stepped on the loud pedal, race leader Jake Sheridan had a tire go down and the entire field was forced to split him, all avoiding the 52 as it showered the front straightaway with sparks. Fitzpatrick would assume the lead for the restart with Josh Stade now to his high side. The restart saw many changes in the top 10 including Watson entering the top three and Adriaensen moving into sixth. Ryan Kimball become a victim of the freight train on lap 59, losing upwards of five spots and outside the top 10 in a matter of laps. A huge tangle up on lap 64 off of turn four happened as Pete Shepherd, Shawn Chenoweth, Ryan Kimball and Wally Wilson found themselves all in the wrong direction.. Chenoweth’s car climbed over Shepherd during the crash and the field was greeted with a wall of sparks as they exited the turn.
Lap 65 saw another crash as several drivers tangled in turn one including Shawn McGlynn taking a massive hit to the outside wall and Gary Adriaensen going around, both cars racing inside the top ten at the time. The restart would see Brandon Watson take the lead on the high side, however Fitzpatrick continued to fight back and apply pressure. Shae Gemmell worked into the top three shortly after the restart as the top cars ran nose to tail. Lawrence rejoined the top five on lap 77 but all eyes were up front as JR Fitzpatrick relentlessly worked over Brandon Watson. The two traded the lead numerous times and leaned on each other in a battle for the ages.
Fitzpatrick fell to third on lap 86 as Gemmell passed and Lawrence got to his inside. Lawrence’s run back through the field brought him to second on lap 97 but he would run out of time to catch race leader Brandon Watson who would go on to win the event. Shae Gemmell would finish third with JR Fitzpatrick and Treyten Lapcevich rounding out the top five spots.
The next APC Series event is scheduled for Saturday, September 12th at Flamboro Speedway with the annual running of the London Recreational Racing 100. The event will be the third of five events on the shortened 2020 season and mark the halfway point in the chase to the championship. More event information can be found on www.APCRacingSeries.com.