The 2021 APC United Late Model Series presented by Grisdale Racing Enterprises rolled into Sunset Speedway on Saturday for the Dayco 100, event number three of the season, and the first visit of the year to the Barrie-area banked 1/3-mile playground of speed.
Brandon Watson, of Stayner, has been the story of the season entering the Dayco 100, as he is a perfect two for two on the year, and arrived at Sunset Speedway, a place he has three previous wins, with an 11-point margin on Pete Shepherd III, of London, and 12 markers on Treyten Lapcevich, of Grimsby.
The first order of business was qualifying, and it looked like there might be a shot at the track record of 14.037 seconds, set in May 2018 by Watson. Dale Shaw, of Guelph, set the early mark of 14.361 seconds, during the first group of qualifying. Despite some heavy hitters throughout the qualifying program, no one was able to topple the early time set by Shaw, the 2015 APC United Late Model Series champion, as he was able to capture the fast-qualifying award.
Shepherd timed in second at 14.423 seconds, while Jake Sheridan, of Mt. Brydges, qualified third at 14.443 seconds. J.R. Fitzpatrick, of Ayr, and Jo Lawrence, of London, rounded up the top-five.
Former Sunset feature winner Jordan Sims, of Sault Ste. Marie, was sixth, with Jordan Howse, of Hillsburg, seventh, Ryan Kimball, of Norwood, eighth, and Nick Goetz, of Southampton, and Andrew Gresel, of Sauble Beach, rounding out the top-ten.
Following the inversion of the top-ten, Sims wound up on the pole, looking for his second career triumph at Sunset, and Kimball on the outside of the front row. Sheridan and Shaw would make up row two, with Lawrence joining Fitzpatrick in row three. The remainder of the top-ten saw Gresel, Shepherd, Howse, and Goetz fill those spots.
Kimball and Sims ran the first three laps of the Dayco 100 side-by-side, with Kimball holding the lead at the line by a bumper each time, and when the races first yellow flew for a stopped Brandon McFerran, of Action, on the backstretch, putting Kimball in control for the restart.
‘Flyin’ Ryan’ was able to take control from the outside lane on the restart, but Sims hung tough on the bottom while Sheridan chased the side-by-side duel for the lead until Kimball moved in front by a car length on lap eight.
Yellow number two flew on lap nine when Dustin Jackson, of Sault Ste. Marie spun off turn four, with the biggest early moves being Shepherd who had climbed from eighth to fifth, and Watson, the point leader, who was shown 11th after starting 15th.
Kimball took control again, and Sims could only hang tough so long before falling into the clutches of Shaw, the fast qualifier. After dispatching Sims, Shaw set his sights on Kimball, and waltzed by into the lead on lap 20. Shepherd was also continuing to climb the leaderboard, as he bypassed Kimball on lap 25 to move to second. Fitzparick and Sims rounded out the top-five, but Sims was in trouble as his car faded to eighth by lap 30, moving Sheridan back into the top-five.
The next driver to fade was Kimball, who had fallen back to ninth on lap 35, with Shaw still in command over Shepherd and Fitzpatrick, with Sheridan fourth, and Howse moving to fifth after starting ninth.
At the halfway point when the crossed flags appeared, Shaw held a lead of a little more than 1.5 seconds over Shepherd, with Fitzpatrick over four seconds behind the leader, and Sheridan and Howse filling the top-five spots, with Lawrence sixth.
After taking a plane from qualifying earlier in the day at the Pinty’s event in Quebec, Treyten Lapcevich, of Grimsby, started at the back of the pack and had climbed to seventh with the assistance of just two yellows. Gresel, ran eighth, with Travis Hallyburton, of Elmvale, ninth, and Watson, the championship leader, running a pedestrian tenth.
The third yellow flew on lap 59, as Jackson went around for the second time of the night, putting Shaw on the inside of Shepherd for the restart, and Fitzpatrick and Howse occupying row two. Shepherd was able to briefly poke his nose out front on the outside on lap 59 before Shaw cleared him, but Shepherd wasn’t done as he went on the attack on the inside. Shaw held him off, but it was House who was on the attack, moving to second, while Shepherd faded to fourth, behind Fitzparick.
Shepherd was able to move back to third on lap 79 but had nothing for the top-two drivers.
On lap 82, Howse made the move, taking command from Shaw, and was staring at less than 20 laps between him and his first career win.
Shaw was unable to mount another challenge for the win, coming home second to Howse, as the race ran green until the end.
Shepherd closed the race out third, while Lawrence finished fourth, and Sheridan held off Fitzpatrick to round out the top-five.
Fitzpatrick came home sixth, while local shoe Hallyburton was seventh. Conner James, of Hamilton, was eighth, with Lapcevich coming from the back of the pack to finished ninth. Sims finished tenth, with point leader Watson 11th, and Gresel losing 3 spots in the final two laps to wind up 12th.
With Lapcevich and Sheridan finishing in front of Watson, it will tighten the championship points heading to the next event, next Saturday night, August 21st, at Sauble Speedway, in Sauble Beach, ON.
Because of a rain out earlier in the month, the APC United Late Models will have a pair of 75 lap features next Saturday night, which could have a huge impact on the championship chase.