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Brandon Watson Goes Back-to-Back – APC United Late Model Series

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Brandon Watson
Photo Credit: Dave Franks

Brandon Watson Goes Back-to-Back – APC United Late Model Series

By Jamie Maudsley | APC United Late Model Series

Photo Credit: Dave Franks

Round number two of the APC United Late Model Series Presented by Grisdale was scheduled for Saturday night at Flamboro Speedway, but the weather didn’t cooperate, and the Interstate Batteries 100 Presented by Shell Rotella was moved to a Sunday rain date on July 18th.

With practice times at just over 15 seconds a lap, it looked like the fastest qualifiers would have a shot at the track record held by Brandon Watson, which was set in June of 2018 with a time of 14.855 seconds, but with the event held two hours earlier in the day and qualifying at 4:00 pm instead of the normal 6:00 pm, the top drivers came up just shot of raising the historic bar.

J.R. Fitzpatrick, of Ayr, was able to post the best time during the session, stopping the clock at 15.118 seconds. Jake Sheridan timed in second with a lap of 15.143 seconds. Pete Shepherd III, of London, at 15.182 seconds, Watson at 15.184 seconds, and Jordan Sims, of Sault Ste. Marie at 15.204 seconds rounded out the top-five. Treyten Lapcevich, of Grimsby, Ryan Kimball, of Norwood, Josh Stade, of Chesley, Jo Lawrence, of London, and Shae Gemmell, of Dorchester completed the top-ten, and would be involved in the invert to set the starting order for the 100-lap journey into the sunset.

With the top-ten locked into the first ten starting spots, they were inverted via points, putting Sims on the pole with Sheridan joining him on row one. Row two was Gemmell and Stade, with Kimball and Lawrence occupying row three. Row four saw Fitzpatrick line up beside Shepherd, with Lapcevich and Watson in row five.

Sims took the early lead with Sheridan tucking into line behind the leader, and Stade chasing the duo in third. The races first yellow flew on lap 11 when Andrew Gresel, of Hepworth, spun in turn two, resetting the field, while Gemmell, Fitzpatrick and Kimball all made contact after the yellow came out while slowing down, sending Fitzpatrick to the pits for repairs.

Sheridan was able to lead the first lap back under green by a nose after being side-by-side for a lap before Sims took command again, looking for the second win of his APC United Late Model Series career.

The second yellow would fly on lap 16 when a four-car melee broke out off turn two involving Fitzpatrick, Shawn McGlynn, of Kitchener, Tom Gibbons, of Southampton, and Dustin Jackson, of Sault Ste. Marie, ending the day for Gibbons.

There would be another quick yellow when Kimball was spun heading into turn one on lap 19, leaving the running order as Sims, Sheridan, Stade, Gemmell, and Watson to take the green.

On the restart, Watson was able to move up to fourth, while Gemmell was bounced from the top-five, settling into seventh, with yellow number four coming out when Dale Shaw, of Guelph, got into the back of Lapcevich while racing for fifth, turning Lapcevich around. Fitzpatrick, and Gresel were on the move from the back, climbing to 10th and 12th by the yellow flag.

Watson found himself caught on the outside on the restart, as Gemmell moved to fourth, and took off chasing Sims, Sheridan, and Stade again, with Watson riding fifth, and Lawrence sixth. Those six were able to pull away from the remainder of the field until lap 35 when rookie Brandon McFerran, of Acton, hit the wall in turn three. There was another mix-up while drivers were checking up, and Connor James, of Hamilton, took the brunt of the contact, punching out the rad on his car.

As the field took the crossed flags indicating the halfway point of the feature event, the running order was Sims, Sheridan, Watson, Gemmell, and Stade, occupying the top-five, and Shawn Chenoweth, of Drumbo, Fitzpatrick, Gresel, Shaw, and Tyler Di Venanzo, of Guelph, rounding out the top-fen.

On lap 52, Sheridan was finally able to get to the inside of Sims, who almost immediately fell back to fourth, as Sheridan started to inch away from Watson and Gemmell.

The sixth yellow of the day was thrown on lap 60, when Kimball slowed with a flat tire in turn four, putting Watson alongside Sheridan for the restart, and Gemmell and Sims occupying row two. Stade was still fifth, with Fitzpatrick and Gresel claiming the next two spots.

Gemmell was able to bypass Watson on the bottom on the restart while Sheridan held serve on the lead, and Gresel picked up two spots to fifth, before pursuing Stade for fourth.

Yellow number seven appeared when Chenoweth spun through the infield on lap 67, just after Watson had bypassed Gemmell for second again, putting the series all-time win leader on the outside of Sheridan for another restart.

The action would only last one lap before Sims, Di Venanzo, and McGlynn all tangled in turn one, and despite taking the lead shortly after the restart, with scoring going back to the last completed lap, it would give Sheridan another shot at holding the 2017 champ at bay on the next restart.

With 25 to go, it was a train of late models up front, lead by Sheridan. He was followed by Watson, Gemmell, Stade, and Fitzpatrick, with Shaw, Gresel, Chenoweth, Lawrence, and Shepherd III rounding out the top-ten. Gemmell’s shot at victory would end on lap 76 as something broke in the front suspension, sending Shae for a ride into the wall, knocking him out of the event, and bringing out yellow number nine.

Sheridan took control again, as Watson tucked in behind, and Stade climbed to third, with Gresel and Fitzpatrick in tow. With 20 to go, Watson started to pressure and on lap 84 moved Sheridan up the track in turn four and out of the groove, while taking the top spot over. Sheridan didn’t let Watson off the hook and hustled his car back to Watson’s bumper. On lap 96 Sheridan returned the favour pushing Watson up the track in the same spot to re-take the lead.

Watson fought back with a crossover move, but Sheridan was able to fend him off until lap 97 when Watson took the lead down the backstretch again. Sheridan spun in turn one on lap 98, leaving Watson and Stade on the front row for a three-lap shootout, with Gresel, Shaw, and Shepherd filling in the top-five.

Stade crowded Watson on the restart, and this allowed Gresel to sneak by into second, only to see another yellow on lap 98 when Fitzpatrick and Shaw ended up in a crumpled mess in turn one.

A flat tire under yellow would end Stade’s shot at victory, giving Gresel the outside of the front row for the next restart. Watson held him off on the initial green, but Gresel was able to get the inside of Watson coming out of turn two. After some contact on the backstretch, Gresel entered turn three too low and spun his car into the wall, putting Shepherd on Watson’s outside, and Lapcevich on Watson’s tail for another crack at the final three laps.

After one failed attempt, another re-start was called for, as Sims, and Lawrence were also now in the top-five.

Shepherd gave Watson all he could handle on the high side, but at the end of the day, Watson was able to capture his second victory at Flamboro, and the 18th of his career. Shepherd finished second, with Lapcevich joining them on the podium.

Sims and Lawrence completed the top-five, with Chenoweth, Sheridan, Di Venanzo, Gresel, and Stade rounding out the top-ten.

The series will be back in action on Saturday, July 31st, at Sauble Speedway in the Bruce Peninsula for the AP Emissions Technologies 100. The Qwik Wick Super Stocks will be back in action Saturday August 7th, at Peterborough Speedway.

Photo Credit: Dave Franks

By Jamie Maudsley | APC United Late Model Series

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