The championship event for the APC United Late Model Series was as wild and thrilling as could be, as 5 drivers entered the day with a legitimate shot at the title. Delaware Speedway played host to the event as part of its Great Canadian Race Weekend, a historic event known by race fans across the country.
Bennett GM Pole Qualifying set the starting lineup for the 28 car field, as the top drivers in the championship tried for 5 very important points. Billy Schwartzenburg set fast time with an 18.255, barely missing the current track record of 18.236. Jamie Cox qualified 2nd, gaining a championship point on Andrew Gresel who timed in 3rd fastest. Steve Laking qualified 4th, and defending series champion Dale Shaw rounded out the top 5. The pill draw would shuffle the order as drivers drew numbers for their spots in the top 5.
Steve Laking led the field to the green flag after the pill draw with Jamie Cox alongside. Fast qualifier Billy Schwartzenburg drew a 3, while Dale Shaw and Andrew Gresel started 4th and 5th respectively. Jamie Cox would lead the opening lap of the race, while Steve Laking pressured. On lap 9 the caution flag would come out for the 1st time as Rick Burbridge went around off of turn 2. Wayne Pilkey collected a large amount of damage as cars slowed to avoid the spun car, ending his day early.
The race would go green from this point and drivers started moving their way through the field. Steve Laking and Dale Shaw battled hard for the 2nd position, racing side by side for numerous laps. On lap 17 the caution flag came out for the 2nd time as Adam Quarrie went around. Under the caution Matt Pritiko entered the pits and the crew went under the hood. Pritiko would then take the car behind the wall and his championship hopes would come to a close.
23 laps into the race Dale Shaw blew a tire and the caution flag would come out once again as a result. After a short run the caution flag would fly for the 4th time on lap 28, this time for the #69 of Lloyd Rawlings going around. Andrew Gresel began pressuring Jamie Cox for the race lead until lap 31 when Steve Laking spun in turn 3 and was hit hard by Marvin Freiburger, resulting in another caution flag.
On the ensuing restart, Andrew Gresel would take the race lead away from Jamie Cox and begin to stretch his legs. The race would go on a very long green flag run from this point. Jamie Cox had reeled Gresel back in at times under the green flag, as Shawn Chenoweth was working his way up to the two from the 3rd spot. Ron Beauchamp Jr, Dan McHattie and Shae Gemmell had worked their way through the field and were running in the top 10 during the long green stretch. Just when it looked like the race might finish with this run, disaster struck on lap 78 for Ron Beauchamp Jr when he hit the wall off of turn 4 and blew the tires going into turn 1, resulting in a very hard driver side hit.
Two laps after the restart, Jamie Cox went around in turn 1 while racing Shawn Chenoweth for the 2nd position. This resulted in the races 7th caution flag. On the lap 80 restart several cars stacked up and went spinning including Shae Gemmell and Jason Parker. One lap after the restart Michael Gold lost control off of turn 4 and made significant contact with the outside wall, ending his day and bringing out the caution for the 8th time.
Dale Shaw worked his way back into the top 5 and started tracking down Andrew Gresel for the race lead in the dying laps during the green flag run from lap 81. Jamie Cox made his way back into the top 5 on lap 93 and began pressuring those in front of him. On lap 96 the caution flag flew for the final time when Justin Demelo and Willie Reyns spun in turn 2.
The lap 96 restart would be the final one as Andrew Gresel got the jump on Dale Shaw and Shawn Chenoweth. On the restart Dale Shaw slowed and entered the infield, ending his chance at a Great Canadian win. Jamie Cox was able to get back up to the 2nd position where he would finish. Andrew Gresel captured the victory, his 2nd Delaware Speedway Great Canadian win, 5th win of the 2016 APC Series season, and the 2016 APC Series championship. Shawn Chenoweth finished 3rd, Jason Parker 4th, and JR Fitzpatrick rounded out the top 5.
The next event for the APC Series is October 22nd with the annual championship banquet, which will be held at the 4 Points by Sheraton in London. Drivers and sponsors will gather to celebrate a season of success and an evening of fun and entertainment.
Photos by Paul Buck