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Fitzpatrick and Zardo Win at Sunset

By: Jamie Maudsley | APC Racing Series | September 11, 2021 at 10:35pm
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Fitzpatrick Finally Finds Checkered Flag

The APC United Late Model Series Presented by Grisdale  rolled into Sunset Speedway on Saturday for the Stewart’s Equipment &  Kubota 100, event number eight of the nine-race championship season.

The first order of the day was qualifying, and all the  drivers were eyeing a top-ten starting position, as well as the track record of  14.037 seconds, set by Brandon Watson, of Stayner, in May of 2018.

In the first qualifying group, it was Josh Stade, of Chelsley,  who set the early fast time with a lap of 14.323 seconds, while title contender  Pete Shepherd III, of London, timed in second.   In the second group, Danny Benedict, of Orono, was the fastest of the  group, but was only able to grab the second spot from Shepherd.

In the third group, it was Sauble Speedway winner Jake  Sheridan, of Mt. Brydges, who claimed the provisional pole with a lap of 15.310  seconds, as Ryan Kimball, of Norwood, claimed second, bumping Stade to third.

The final group hit the track last, and the sun peeked out,  but 2015 Champion Dale Shaw, of Guelph, was able to rip a lap of 14.261  seconds, while defending series champ Jo Lawrence, of London, was second with a  lap of 14.308 seconds.  Sheridan wound up  third, with Kimball in fourth, and Stade winding up fifth.

Matt Pritiko, of London, Benedict, Watson, Conner James, of  Hamilton, and Shepherd rounded out the top-ten and qualified for the invert.

Once the field was shuffled inside the top-ten, it put  Benedict and James on the front row.  Stade  and Kimball made up row two, with Shaw and Sheridan in row three.  Row four contained Lawrence and Shepherd,  with Watson and Pritiko filling row five.

Benedict was able to capture the early lead, but Stade was  on the charge and on lap five, Josh was able to poke his car out front.  Benedict fell into the clutches of Kimball,  who passed him for second on lap eight, while Stade had opened up a gap of over  one second.

Stade continued to stretch out the advantage, and Benedict  wasn’t done with Kimball, as he pressured ‘Flying Ryan’ for the runner-up  spot.  There was also a line of cars all  nose to tail behind Kimball, including Shaw, Sheridan, Shepherd, Lawrence,  Watson, and Pritiko in eighth.  Jordan  Howse, of Hillsborough, and James rounded out the top-ten.

The first yellow of the event flew on lap 26 when Gord  Shepherd, of Barrie, came to rest against the turn one concrete wall.

 On the green, Stade  checked out again, while Kimball tried to keep Shaw at bay.  The pair raced door-to-door for about eight  laps before Shaw sealed the deal and took second.  Benedict was also able to bypass Kimball to  moved to third.  At the halfway point  Stade had opened up a two second lead on Shaw, who was followed by Benedict in  third, and Shepherd in fourth, but all eyes were on former series champ J.R.  Fitzpatrick, of Ayr.

Fitzpatrick broke a motor in practice, and the team had to  install a new powerplant in the car before starting at the back of the  field.  After rolling off 22nd  on the grid, Fitzpatrick sixth at the 50-lap mark.  He was followed by Watson, Howse, Shae  Gemmell, of Dorchester, who started 18th, and Pritiko who rounded  out the top-ten.

On lap 52, the second yellow of the night would fly, as  Treyten Lapcevich, of Grimsby slowed in turn four, setting up another restart  and eliminating Stade’s comfortable lead.

Lapcevich was unable to get the car re-fired in the pits,  and despite coming in second in points would take a hit in the championship  chase, finishing many laps down.

Stade was able to set sail again, while Shepherd and  Benedict were battling for third, and Fitzpatrick and Sheridan were dueling for  fifth right behind them.  Shepherd  finally claimed third, and Fitzpatrick dispatched both Sheridan and Benedict to  move to fourth with less than 40 laps to go.

On lap 71, the third yellow of the night flew as Dustin  Jackson, of Sault Ste. Marie spun off turn two, erasing another comfortable  lead for Stade, and putting him back in the clutches of Shaw, and now  Fitzpatrick for the next restart.

On this restart, Shaw hung tough on the outside, leading  laps 72 and 73 before finally clearing Stade to take control of the lead, but  Stade fought back, and pulled back to the inside of Shaw.  Stade poked his nose out front again on lap  78, with Fitzpatrick and Shepherd still in the mix.

On lap 79, Jackson spun again in the same spot off turn two,  to bring out yellow number four of the night, but while circling under yellow,  disaster struck for Stade, as a broken suspension part on the left front would  end his shot at his first career win, and turned the lead over to Shaw.

Shaw choose the outside and got a great start to pull in  front of Fitzpatrick, who was being chased by Shepherd and Watson, with Gemmell  and Lawrence battling for fifth.

On lap 83, the championship would take a major swing, as  point leader Watson stopped in turn four, bringing out a yellow and setting up  another edition of Shaw versus Fitzpatrick.   Shaw was able to take the lead again, but Fitzpatrick would face a major  challenge from Lawrence, the defending series champion, who was able to  challenge for lap after lap on the high side, but was unable to pull off the  pass, falling back to third.

Fitzpatrick went off in search of Shaw, and he quickly  reeled Dale in before executing a perfect bump-and-run in turn two on lap 98 to  take command away from Shaw.

Fitzpatrick held on for the final two circuits to claim the  fourth win of his APC United Late Model career, and his first victory at Sunset  Speedway.

Shaw finished second, while Howse made some late moves to finish  third after starting 13th.  Kimball fought back to finish fourth, with Lawrence winding up fifth.

Shepherd finished sixth, with James seventh, and Gemmell  eighth.  Pritiko and Sheridan rounded out  the top-ten.

Unofficially, Watson is still the point leader heading into  the Quick Wick Championship races at Delaware on Saturday, September 25th,  and will have a 10-point lead on Shepherd, and 13 points Lapcevich.


Zardo Zips to Quick Wick Win

A solid field of Quick Wick Super Stocks were on hand for the Saugueen Shores Transmission 50 lap feature race, event number four of the  five-race championship campaign at Sunset Speedway.  With just two races to go in the title chase,  the top nine drivers were separated by a mere 10 points, with all of them still  in title contention.

Nic Ramsay, of St. Thomas, was able to set a fast-time early  in the qualifying session, before Paul Boundy, of Bowmanville, went to the top  of the qualifying chart with a lap of 15.851 seconds in the second group of  cars to hit the track.  When the third  group wrapped up, it was Pete Vanderwyst, of St. Thomas, who bettered the mark  with a fastest lap with a time of 15.787 seconds.

The fourth group was next and Nick Troback, of Hamilton,  stopped the clocks with a lap of 15.784 seconds, the fastest lap of this group,  to move to position one on the board, heading into the final group, the fastest  cars in the earlier practice session.

Lane Zardo, of Brampton, was able to go over 2/10ths of a  second faster than Troback to jump to the top of the board with a lap of 15.557  seconds.  Dwayne Baker, of Stayner, who  entered the night just 2 points behind point leader Ray Morneau, of Windsor,  turned a lap of 15.686 seconds to wind up second.  Gerrit Tiemersma, of Newmarket, who entered  the night third in the championship qualified third.

Trobeck hung on to wind up fourth, with Vanderwyst in  fifth.  Ethan Constable, of Barrie was  sixth, with Boundy in seventh.  Paul  Pepper, of North Bay, wound up eighth, with Marlie Owen, of Port Hope in ninth,  and Dennis Cybalski, of Hamilton, rounding out the top-ten.

Following the inversion, Cybalski was on the pole, with Troback joining him on the front row.  Row two  was made up by Vanderwyst and Pepper, with Zardo and Constable in row  three.  Row four contained Tiemersma and  Baker, with Boundy and Owen rounding out the top-ten.

The first yellow of the race flew on lap three when  Vanderwyst cut down a right front tire after contact with Troback, who held  second, with Cybowski as the early leader.

The field would get a few more laps in before another yellow  flew, this time it was for a tangle between Roy Wilkie, of Kincardine, and Mike  Weeda, of Bolton.

Cybowski took command again, but it was Zardo on the charge  after restarting third, and on lap seven, Zardo took the lead and started to  build a cushion over Cybalski, and Baker, who had picked up five spots to  third.

The next yellow flew due to a lap 12 multi-car incident  involving Owens, Tiemersma, Vanderwyst, Carson Nagy, of Mt. Hope, and Jason  Parker, of Port Elgin off turn four.

When the green flew again, Zardo picked up where he left  off, as Baker slid through to second, but yellow number four would fly on lap  22 when Cory McAllister, of Durham, stopped with a flat right front tire.  Yellow number five happened in less than a  lap when Frank Davey, of Innisfil, stopped in turn two with a flat tire.

Baker hung tough on the outside and led lap 23 before Zardo  took control again, and as the race reached the halfway mark the order was  Zardo, Baker, Trobeck, Cybowski, and Constable in the top-five, with Justin  Collision, of Cambridge, Davenport, Brandon McFarran, of Action, Vanderwyst and  Ramsay rounding out the top-ten.

On lap 38, the sixth yellow of the evening would slow the  field and McFarran and Vanderwyst tangled in turn three and four, sending them  both to the back again, and moving Pepper into the top-ten.

The field would get three more laps in before Johnny Morrison,  of Barrie, spun at the end of the front stretch, giving Baker another crack at  Zardo for the lead and a shot at the win.

On the break with nine to go, Baker was able to lead lap 42  by a nose, but Zardo was able to take control back on the bottom lane before  another yellow would fly for Cybalski spinning in turn four on lap 44.  This would set up another late race restart,  and gave Baker one more opportunity to try to steal one away from Zardo.

It would be another short run before McAllister spun on the  backstretch on lap 47, slowing the field for the ninth time in the 50-lap  affair.

Just one lap later it was yellow number 10, as Troback was hit by Collison, sending both to the back for the lap 48 restart.

Baker was able to nose out front on lap 49 on the next  restart, and the pair stayed side-by-side all the way to the line, as Zardo won  by less than half a car length, with Baker finishing second in a thrilling  finish.  For Zardo, despite a number of  solid finishes, it was his first career Quick Wick Super Stock feature  win.  Constable had a quiet, yet solid, third-place  result, with Tiemersma coming from the back of the field for a fourth-place  result, and Ramsay finishing fifth.

Parker, Trevor Colliver, of Lucan, Davenport, Owen, and  Cybowski rounded out the top-ten.

Without the ‘home track’ points factored in, Baker should  regain the point lead, with a narrow three-point margin over Zardo heading to  Delaware, with Tiemersma, and Constable also in the title mix.

The final race of the year for the Quick Wick Super Stocks  will be Friday, September 24th, at Delaware Speedway as the  highlight of the Friday night action for the Quick Wick Championship Weekend.  It’s also part of the Pinty’s Fall Brawl  weekend, which will present 3 days of racing at the legendary London-area  ½-mile. 

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