The 2021 APC United Late Model Series presented by Grisdale, season kicked off tonight at Delaware Speedway, just West of London, Ontario, with 29 Late Models on hand for the first race of the season. In addition to the Late Models, 39 Quik Wick Super Stock were on property, competing for just 32 spots in their 50-lap main event.
After not seeing fans in the stands for over a year, it was fabulous to see the venue was filled to 25% capacity tonight for the Spectra Premium 100 for the APC Late Models, and the 50-lap feature for the Qwik Wick Super Stocks.
It was also a first look for a lot of fans at the major changes that have already begun at Delaware Speedway, including a new LED lighting system.
APC Late Models presented by Grisdale
Qualifying was the first order of the day, and Treyton Lapcevich or Grimsby, was able to set the fast time, stopping the clock at 18.347 seconds, less than 2/10ths of a second off Dale Shaw’s track record, set in September, 2015. Brandon Watson, of Stayner, the 2018 series champion, timed in second quick at 18.359 seconds, with Pete Shepherd III, of London, Matt Pritiko, of London, and defending Series champion Jo Lawrence rounding out the top-five.
The pill-draw to shuffle the top-five put Shepherd and Lawrence on the front row, with Watson, and Pritiko taking the green from row two.
Shepherd jumped to an early lead with Watson applying early pressure, while Lawrence, the defending series champ struggled early, falling outside the top-five, while Lapcevich, Pritiko, and Shae Gemmell were chasing the lead duo.
On lap 22, Gemmell was able to make a move to fourth, getting around Pritiko in lapped traffic, and then set off in search of Lapcevich.
Watson passed Shepherd for the lead on lap 34, but Shepherd wasn’t done as he fought back briefly before Watson started to put a gap on him. Gemmell moved to third during this stretch, trying to win his second career feature event, and first at his home track.
On lap 42, Gemmell was able to shuffle by Shepherd for second spot, with Lapcevich also getting by Shepherd, knocking Pete back to fourth.
The top-five had pulled out to a straightaway lead on a battle for sixth that included Lawrence, who was having his hands full, thanks for Andrew Gresel, of Sauble Beach, J.R. Fitzpatrick, of Ayr, and D.J. Kennington, of St. Thomas, and Jake Sheridan, of Strathroy.
On lap 48, disaster struck Gemmell, as a flat tire forced him to pit road from the runner-up spot, leaving the running order as Watson, Lapcevich, Shepherd, Pritko, and Sheridan in the top-five, followed by Kennington, Gresel, Fitzpatrick, Lawrence, and Danny Benedict, of Orono, rounding out the top-ten at the halfway mark.
Pritiko was the next of the leaders to experience issues as he pulled to his pit stall on lap 63, and the crew dove under the hood of the former champ’s car, and moving the inaugural series champ Dale Shaw, of Guelph, into the top-ten.
The first yellow finally flew on lap 73 after contact off turn two between Gresel and Darrell Lake, of My. Brydges, results in Lake looping his car- bunching the field up – taking away Watson’s lead of more than three seconds.
The green flag run had left Watson, Shepherd, Lapcevich, Shepherd, Kennington, Gresel, Sheridan, Fitzpatrick, Shaw, Benedict, and free pass car Ryan Kimball, of Norwood, as the only 11 cars left on the lead lap.
On the restart, Lapcevich was able to keep Watson pinned down and took the lead, looking to take his maiden voyage to Epic Racewear victory lane, but on lap 81 Watson made a move out of turn four and took the top spot back. Sheridan fell from the top-ten shortly after that with a terminal issue on his car, while Lapcevich was unable to hold back Shepherd and Gresel as well, falling back to fourth.
The second yellow of the night came out on lap 92 as Tyler Di Venanzo, of Guelph, spun in turn one, with the running order Watson, Shepherd, Gresel, Lapcevich, and Kennington making up the top-five, and Shaw, Fitzpatrick, Lawrence, Benedict, and Kimball rounding out the top-ten and showing as the only cars left on the same lap as the leader.
Gresel, a three-time Great Canadian winner, was able to get past Shepherd on the restart, but was unable to reel in Watson during the closing laps, as Watson was able to capture his 17th career APC feature win. Gresel wound up second, with Kennington making a late charge to finish third. Fitzpatrick wound up fourth, with Shaw fifth.
Shepherd had a late problem, losing a number of spots to finish sixth, just holding off Lapcevich who wound up seventh. Benedict wound up eighth, with Lawrence ninth, and Kimball rounding out the top-ten.
Qwik Wick Super Stocks
In qualifying for the Qwik Wick Super Stocks, everyone was chasing Trevor Collver, of Lucan, who was fastest in practice, and then set fast time in qualifying with a lap of 20.551, a mere .016 seconds ahead of Lane Zardo, of Brampton.
The rest of the top-five in qualifying were Gerrit Tiemersma, of Newmarket, Nic Ramsay of St. Thomas, and Dwayne Baker, of Stayner.
Ramsay drew the pole in the pill draw scramble, with Morneau on his outside. Ramsay was able to pull away from the field in the early going, with Morneau in second. Ryan Dyson, of Aylmer, was on the change, battling with Zardo for third, before starting to fade. At the 15-lap mark, Zardo started his move forward, bypassing Morneau to move to second, before the races first yellow flew on lap 19 when Lonny Thompson, of Dorchester, and Doug Stewart, of London, got tied up in turn two.
On the restart Zardo was shoved out of the groove and fell back to seventh, while Morneau moved back to second, and Colliver made a daring three-wide pass for third. Thompson spun again in turn four bringing out the races second yellow on lap 21.
The green flag didn’t stay in the air for an entire lap, as Ramsay and Morneau were side by side for the lead when contact from Zardo sent Ramsay around, turning the lead over to Morneau, with Collver, Zardo, Dyson, and former Delaware Super Stock champ Andrew Ferreira, of Strathroy rounding out the top-five.
Collver rallied out the outside on the next restart, and after a lap and a half side-by-side, took control from Morneau. By the halfway point, Mike Weeda had moved into the top-five, displacing Dyson, while Zardo was taking the runner-up spot from Morneau. Ferrari got by as well, bringing Weeda and Dyson back into the top-five, and shuffling Morneau backwards, before disaster struck for Zardo on lap 29, as the car lost power under green, before making the turn into the pits.
With scoring going back to the last completed lap, Morneau would restart third, but he was no match for Collver and Ferreria who got lined up and checked out on the field. Things were slowed down again on lap 33 as Matthew Bentley, of Guelph, lost power in turn one. Baker had cracked the top-five for the restart.
This time it was Dyson who was caught on the outside of a three-wide exchange and hemorrhaged spots, before another yellow flew on lap 35 for an incident involving Ryan Bright, of Petrolia, Ethan Constable, of Barrie, and Ramsay.
Collver set sail again, gapping Ferreria, during the final 15-lap green flag run to take the checkers in a thrilling Qwik Wick Super Stock season opener, with Morneau holding off a spirited charge from Baker to finish third, with Baker fourth. Nick Troback, of Hamilton, started 27th and drove to am impressive fifth-place result.
McNichol, David McCullough, of Glencoe, Jason Parker, of Port Elgin, Dyson, and Paul Pepper, of North Bay, rounding out the top-ten.
By Jamie Maudsley