One of the most anticipated weekends in all of Canadian and perhaps North American short track racing, the inaugural Canadian Short Track Nationals at Jukasa Motor Speedway, saw the APC United Late Model Series presented by Grisdale Racing Products headline the Saturday, September 1st portion of the weekend. The penultimate event on the 2018 schedule, a 100 lap race around the 5/8 mile oval known as Canada’s Crown Jewel, would shape the picture of the championship event as a large field of Pro Late Models put on a spectacle for the thousands in attendance.
Bennett GM Pole Qualifying would set the stage for the 100 lap headliner as Brandon Watson laid down a time of 18.524, beating Nick Goetz by over two tenths of a second. Jordan Sims, Andrew Gresel, and Jamie Cox rounded out the top five qualifiers as points leader JR Fitzpatrick clocked in sixth fastest.
Guelph, Ontario’s Junior Farrelly led the field to life as the crowd cheered on the 30 cars with the sun setting behind them. Andrew Gresel started from the outside of row one and took the top position to lead the opening lap of the event. Brandon Watson entered the top five just four laps into the race after starting in the ninth spot.
The first caution of the race came on lap five when Paighton Jacobs slowed on the track. Pit road became a busy place during the caution period as teams were given the first opportunity to work on their cars since the qualifying impound. Brandon Watson’s early charge through the field continued as he moved into the top three on lap nine, this as Andrew Gresel continued to lead.
The race lead would change hands on lap 16 when Andrew Gresel appeared to slow just as Brandon Watson looked to his inside. Gresel would limp his number 81 machine around the track and retire from the event with a transmission issue. The second yellow flag came out on lap 24 when Paighton Jacobs went around in turn four and the leaders were met with a wall of tire smoke.
Jamie Cox had a disastrous restart while running towards the front as his car struggled to get up to speed, resulting in him falling almost to the mid-pack. Brandon Watson would check out on the restart as several battles throughout the field developed behind him. The third caution of the event came on lap 30 as Jade Franklin came to a stop at the pit entrance. A 14 lap green flag run after the restart saw Watson once again check out as Jake Sheridan separated himself from a thick battle behind.
Lap 44 saw the yellow shown for the fourth time as Ryan Kimball suffered a mechanical failure off of turn four and the car spun down the front straightaway. Shawn Chenoweth and Junior Farrelly were left with nowhere to go and both made heavy contact with Kimball as he came to rest at the finish line. All three cars were heavily damaged in the incident and would not return to competition.
The race would go on a long green flag run as Brandon Watson stretched his legs on the field once again. Later in the run Jake Sheridan would begin to fade allowing JR Fitzpatrick to move around him for second after many laps of side by side battling. Sheridan would fall to the clutches of Matt Pritiko and Treyten Lapcevich and the three would race under a blanket for over a dozen laps, with Sheridan holding off the two combatants.
Just when it looked like the race was set to run to the finish, Shae Gemmell went around off of turn two on lap 95, bringing out the yellow flag and setting up for a finish that brought fans to their feet. JR Fitzpatrick stuck his number 84 to the high side on the restart and after two laps of side by side battling, cleared Brandon Watson for the top spot. With just one lap left, Brandon Watson made his move to the inside and took the lead once again to win the event in thrilling fashion. JR Fitzpatrick, Matt Pritiko, Jake Sheridan, and Treyten Lapcevich rounded out the top five finishing spots.
The APC Series will return to action on September 15th at Delaware Speedway, located just outside of London, Ontario. The 100 Kellogg Lane Championship Event Presented by Maple City Tire will be full of action as drivers have just one more opportunity to better their points positions and search for a checkered flag in 2018. Advance tickets and camping reservations for the event can be found on www.DelawareSpeedway.com. The event is scheduled for a 6:30pm start time.