GUELPH, ON – The weather was less than favourable as Billy Schwartzenburg and the #86 pro late model team headed north to Sauble Speedway for round 6 of the APC United Late Model Series and the Spira Fire Protection Ltd. Beat the Heat 100.
Although the team hasn’t had much luck during their previous visits to the track in the APC Series, Billy had plenty of experience there with the mini stock picking up the track championship. As the team arrived at the track the rain stopped and the sun was shining but it was plenty windy and cool sending team members scrambling for sweaters and long pants.
With three practice sessions scheduled for the afternoon, Billy hit the track and quickly found that the car was loose going into the corners, tight in the centre and then loose on exit, giving the team a real challenge. Adding to the workload was the fact that the #86 had to get bump started by Mike Schmidt from the #89 and his 4-wheeler as the battery had gone dead due to a loose wire.
The team systematically went to work on the loose in condition, would tackle the tight in the center that should have fixed the loose off and fixed the battery issue. After multiple adjustments that should have made the car better, Billy reported that he just couldn’t turn the car down in the center of the corner as it would just push up the track causing him to wait before he could get on the throttle.
With just enough time for one more adjustment before qualifying, the team put together a multitude of changes as Billy went onto the track in the second group of four cars for qualifying as the #86 was only 14th quickest in practice that set the order for the group qualifying. Although Billy was able to improve on his practice time drastically and set the fastest time in qualifying so far, there were still 13 more cars that had to qualify ultimately pushing Billy back to the 11th starting position.
Although it was hard for Billy to know for sure if the adjustments fixed the car, he did say that after the first couple of laps on the new tires the #86 started to feel pretty comfortable, giving the team some much needed confidence heading into the feature.
Over the past couple of seasons the APC Series races at Sauble have proven to be the most well attended on the circuit as the track draws a large number of fans that vacation in the area. This proved to be true again this year as the cars lined up on the front stretch in front of a packed grandstand for out of car driver introductions. The field took the green flag just after 8:00 PM and even though Billy dropped back to 12th by lap 4, he regained his position two laps later moving back into 11th.
As the #3 and the #9 battled for the lead out front with the #9 taking the position, Billy got a run inside the #10 to move into the top-10 with the #89 right on his tail. By lap 35 Billy was running the same lap times as the leaders but with no cautions to bunch up the field he was having a hard time making up any ground on the front runners. Billy followed the #4 inside the #72 on lap 43 putting him into 9th with the #89 still on his tail.
Billy picked up another position as the race remained green, this time on the #3 putting Billy up to 8th. The #4 got by the #22 ahead of Billy but the #22 was ten car lengths ahead of the #86 and without any cautions for the remainder of the race, Billy was unable to close the gap. With 20 laps remaining Billy reported that he was losing his brakes and that he had to pump them at least 4 times per corner to get the car slowed down.
With the brake issue and now behind two lapped cars that would not move out of the way, the #89 was able to get his nose under the left rear of the #86 but despite rubbing the tire and causing a cloud of smoke, Billy hung on and stayed in front of the #89 with just two laps to go. As Billy came out of turn 4 on the final lap, the #89 got a run on the inside and with Billy trying to pump the brakes to stop the car from sliding up the track, the #89 was able to keep up his momentum and beat Billy at the line by half a car length putting Billy back to 9th.
The race had gone green to checkered without a single caution flag and all cars that started the race returned to the pits with only minor scratches. The track opened the gate between the grandstand and the pit area and the cars and drivers were soon swarmed by the many fans in attendance that were able to get a close up view of the cars and kept the drivers busy signing their hero cards.
Many thanks go out to Sauble Speedway for the great job they did in keeping the event moving as many of the fans were delighted that it was still light out after the race and they had plenty of time to allow the kids to go through the pits and still get them back to the cottage or campground in plenty of time to get a good night’s sleep.
Billy returns to Flamboro Speedway on Saturday August 12th for a regular points night of racing with triple 30-lap features as the track runs the second feature that was rained out on Saturday July 22nd. The front gates open at 5:00 PM with racing getting underway at 6:30 PM.