NEW SMYRNA BEACH, FL- After a potentially event-ending crash on Night 2 and an agonizingly long repair process, Andrew Gresel returned to Pro Late Model contention on February 19th, earning a hard-fought 6th place finish on Night 5 of New Smyrna Speedway’s World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing.
The Hepworth, ON driver found himself entrenched in heavy traffic throughout the 35-lap feature event, racing in a group of cars that included fellow Canadian Alex Guenette, second-generation standout Harrison Burton and Georgia star Anderson Bowen.
“The level of competition that we’ve faced this week has been unreal”, observed Gresel post-race. “This is our third year at the World Series and I can’t remember another season in which we’ve raced against such top-flight competition every night. Tonight was an awesome example of that. These guys didn’t give me any room tonight, but they raced me clean, and that’s all you could ever ask for”.
After qualifying 13th overall, Gresel wasted little time carving his way through the field, reaching the top-5 before the halfway mark.
“I can’t say enough about how my crew has risen to the occasion this week”, beamed Gresel as the team worked to load their McColl Racing Enterprises ride for another night. “They worked so hard just getting this car back on track, and tonight they handed me an absolute hot rod. They did the hard stuff, I was just lucky enough to drive it”.
As the laps wore on, Gresel’s #81 began to tighten up, forcing the 2013 OSCAAR Super Late Model tour Rookie of the Year to work overtime in order to hold on to his top-5 position.
“Around the 20-lap mark, I could feel the car start to tighten up”, Gresel admitted. “This place is so fast and momentum is so important here, if you can’t roll the center perfectly you’re in trouble. Once we started battling a tight racecar, I could see the bumpers in my rearview start to get a little bigger”.
A score of late-race restarts shuffled the field, with Gresel fighting diligently to remain within the top-10. By the time all was said and done, the former Delaware Speedway champion had earned a 6th place finish, his second top-10 result of the 8-night mini-season.
“It would’ve been easy to pack up and head home after our wreck on Night 2, but I’m happy we stayed and battled through this”, lamented Gresel. “This was the best car I’ve had all week, and we’re just getting warmed up!”
Gresel’s 2014 World Series trip has been made possible thanks to support from Sauble Falls Tent & Trailer Park, HY-Grade Roofing, Canadian Union of Skilled Workers, Have1.com Printing Services, London Recreational and Sauble Speedway.
Fans can follow Andrew on Twitter @SaubleFalls81.
By Spencer Lewis