HEPWORTH, ON - The second leg of the Sauble Speedway doubleheader weekend saw 30 teams in attendance for the annual Spira Fire Protection Beat the Heat 100, the eighth race of the 2019 season. After a thrilling race on Friday night, teams had just one day between to make adjustments and repairs to their cars.
Once again, group qualifying would prove to be a pivotal point in the evening as 30 teams fought for 26 starting positions. The top 18 qualifiers would be locked in on time while all others were sent to the last chance qualifier to fight for their destiny. Matt Pritiko would lay down the fastest time, bettering Treyten Lapcevich and Shae Gammell. Pritiko’s Lucas Oil Pole would also give him 2 more points over Gemmell, extending his points lead entering the main event. Shawn Chenoweth would win the star filled last chance qualifier ahead of Jamie Cox.
Under the lights and in front of a jam-packed crowd, the full-field of Pro late Models came to life as the green flag flew on the Spira Fire Protection Beat the Heat 100 with Gord Shepherd on the pole after the invert. Hudson Nagy would get the jump on the high side and lead the opening lap of the race.
Right from the start the field would get into a rhythm and drivers would begin to march their way forward. Hudson Nagy would pace the opening 16 laps of the race before defending series champion, JR Fitzpatrick, made his way around and brought Shae Gemmell along with him. The first caution flag of the evening came on lap 20 when Josh Stade, Tom Gibbons and Jade Franklin were involved in a crash on the back straightaway.
Fitzpatrick and Gemmell continued to show the way up front before the yellow flag was shown once again on lap 33, this time for Dale Shaw as he ended up in the infield grass off of turn four. Matt Pritiko, who was looking to sweep the weekend, moved into the top three on lap 34 and set his sights on the race leaders.
As the halfway point in the Spira Fire Protection Beat the Heat 100 came it was still JR Fitzpatrick up front with Shae Gemmell tight behind and Matt Pritiko trailing behind in third. The third caution flag of the race came on lap 63 when Billy Schwartzenburg came to a stop with a flat tire off of turn four. The restart was trouble for Jake Sheridan as a loud bang erupted from his car and sparks filled the front straightaway. Sheridan was able to limp his car to the pits for a replacement tire and rejoin the race.
A few laps after the restart, on lap 66, Jamie Cox made heavy contact with the turn one wall and his night ended on the hook, this resulting in the races fifth caution period. Once the race resumed Fitzpatrick would once again set the pace as Gemmell stalked from behind. Matt Pritiko was able to hold off a hard charging Tim Ellis during a long green flag run that went until lap 91 when Shawn McGlynn and Tom Gibbons made contact and wrecked in turn one.
The restart would see Shae Gemmell get clear of Fitzpatrick and hold on for his first career series win, parking in Robert Q victory lane and closing the gap in the championship hunt. Fitzpatrick would finish behind with Matt Pritiko, Treyten Lapcevich, and Tim Ellis rounding out the top five.
The penultimate event on the 2019 schedule will see the APC Series head to Innisfil, Ontario’s Sunset Speedway for the AP Emissions Technologies 100 Presented by Pennzoil on Saturday, August 17th. More information can be found on www.APCRacingSeries.com, advance tickets are available on www.SunsetSpeedway.ca.
Ryan Dyson - APC Series PR
Photos by Dave Franks Photography