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J.R. Fitzpatrick Takes APC United Late Models Win at Sauble

Fitzpatrick captured his 10th career APC United Late Model Series victory, and first at Sauble Speedway.


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The APC United Racing Series presented by Castrol and Grisdale Racing Enterprises took on Sauble Speedway Saturday night for a shootout under the lights during the Stewart’s 100 Presented by Kubota, just a few kilometres away from Sauble Beach, and Lake Huron. The action under the lights at the ¼-mile playground of speedway was as intense as the summer heat at the beach as 19 of the top Pro Late Model teams gathered.

Entering the night, three drivers, Kyle Steckly, Jake Sheridan, and Jo Lawrence were separated by a mere 4-points with just two events to go in the championship, but it was another former champ who decided to insert himself back into the title contention.

J.R. Fitzpatrick entered the night trailing by 17 markers, but after making some early moves in the feature, he was able to seize the lead from Chase Pinsonnault on lap 18 before molly-whopping the field to gain maximum points on the evening.

Championship leading Steckly was solid and consistent throughout the evening, ‘big picture’ racing his way to a third-place finish, void of risks, and outpacing all his other title rivals except Fitzpatrick.

Epic Racewear pole qualifying was the first order of the day, and Steckly was able to post the fastest time of the session at 14.256 seconds. Lawrence clocked in second, with Pinsonneault timing in third. Danny Benedict and Fitzpatrick rounded out the top five.

Following the handicapping system, Cory Luciano, and Pinsonneault, started the 100-lap feature on the front row, with Tom Gibbons and Shae Gemmel on the second row, and Benidict and Fitzpatrick occupied row three.

Championship contenders Lawrence, Sheridan, and Steckly were all forced to start of the tail end of the top-ten for the 100-lap affair, as their almost heads up battle entered the next chapter.

Pinsonneault was able to take the lead from the pole-sitter Luciano on the break, and set sail leading the first 17 laps of the race. Fitzpatrick had made some early moves before gaining the runner-up spot, and on lap 18, he was able to poke his nose out front during a re-start, clearing Chase the next lap. Fitzpatrick, the defending, and two-time champ started to show just how dominate his car was as he set sail and opened up a lead of well over 2 seconds before the second – and final – yellow of the night flew on lap 54.

Fitzpatrick took the outside on the restart, giving up the bottom to Gemmell, while Steckly and Lawrence filled spots on the outside row as well. When the green dropped it was more of the same for Fitzpatrick, while he left Gemmel and Steckly to battle for the runner-up position in his wake.

Fitzpatrick would lead the remainder of the affair, stretching out to a somewhat comfortable lead and setting his #84 machine on cruise control to become just the second multi-time winner of the season.

Gemmell held off a furious charge from Steckly to claim the runner-up position, with Lawrence coming home fourth. Stade rounded out the top-five.

Benedict came home sixth, with Gibbons seventh, and Andrew Gressel eighth after an impressive run from 18th on the grid. Eric Della Riva finished ninth for his fourth top-ten of the year, while Pinsonnault rounded out the top-ten.

Fitzpatrick, was able to cut into the point lead by Steckly with the win, while capturing his 10th career victory, and first at Sauble Speedway. J.R. said, “I won in a Street Stock in about 2011 here, and the other win in a fendered race car was a Junior Late Model in 1995. We crashed at Flamboro, and we have really went back to the basics on the car for the adjustments since then. I think we finally have it back where we need it. Simple adjustments, and it really paid off tonight. I think if Steckly didn’t get held up by the #3 [Gemmel] he might have had something for us, but you never know until the end if you have saved enough. Even when I saw them battling – even the last three laps, I wasn’t sure if we had enough.”

With the win, Fitzpatrick moved to fourth in points and will be chasing Steckly by 12 markers heading to the Great Canadian Weekend at Delaware.

With his third top-five of the season, Gemmell used the runner-up finish to creep a bit closer to the top-five in points. Shae said, “We unloaded terrible today, and had a shock mount and a Panhard bar mount break in practice. This put us behind, and we didn’t get to work as much as we wanted on the setup, so we took some big swings at it. We have had some success here before, so we knew what the car needed. We took our time working through the field, but when we got to second, we didn’t have anything at all for J.R. I think Steckly had enough to get by me, but I don’t know how many more of these races I have left in me, so I wasn’t gong to roll over for him. Kyle got into me a few times, but it was just good racing, and I know he has the championship to think about and would be big picture racing.”

Steckly used the bronze-medal finish to extend his championship point lead to five over Lawrence, and talked about his night, saying, “Shae was really holding me up, and I’m not sure if I had anything for J.R., but I would have liked a shot. It is what it is though, and at the end of the night, I knew we had to finish ahead of the #52 {Sheridan] and the #78 [Lawrence], and we were able to do that. We got a lot of positions on the choose cone during the last restart, but I just couldn’t get Shae on the restart.”

Following consecutive races in which he broke a motor, and then won at Sunset Speedway, Lawrence raced to a fourth-place result and talked about it, “I just followed Steckly when we hit the choose cone and gained a lot of spots and settled into fourth during the last run, but at the end of the day, we just had a fourth-place car. We really needed to win both of the last two races to have a title shot, but now, we will just get ready for Delaware – win that one - and see where we finish up.”

Following a suspension piece that drove the driveshaft into the transmission, Josh Stade, who entered the night fourth in points, borrowed a few parts and pieces to patch his ride together just before qualifying. After his third top-five of the season, Stade talked about his trying day, “We sent some guys back to the shop to get parts, as well as take some parts off the other car. We borrowed a transmission off the #84 team. So many other teams helped us out or we wouldn’t have even raced – it says a lot for the other competitors. We didn’t have any laps to work on the setup, and it was tight and there was nothing we could do about it. We never gave up all day, and we didn’t win but it was still a great finish after the way our day was going.”

Championship contender Sheridan had a part failure in the rear end of his car and dropped through the leaderboard when the problem appeared. Jake fell back to a 12th-place result, and remains third in points, 10 markers back.

Next on the APC United Racing schedules will be the Great Canadian Weekend as the Quick Wick Super Stock will decide their title on Friday, September 22nd.

The APC Late Models will be in action on Saturday September 23rd to crown their champion. The 200-lap crown jewel event of the series will also decide the brand-new NTN Triple Crown Series, where more drivers are in contention, and the points are even tighter than the season long title fight.

-APC United Late Model Series Release

ABOUT UNITED RACING SERIES: The United Racing Series debuted in 2015, and immediately drew attention from around the province with the formation of the APC United Late Model Series. Fans, drivers, and sponsors alike were left wanting more after a wildly successful inaugural season that saw the championship battle come down to the final laps. The series that took Ontario by storm has continued to grow for years and has brought Late Model racing in Ontario to what it truly should be. The United Racing Series is also the home of the Qwick Wick Super Stock Series and the OSCAAR Modified and Hot Rod Series. The goal of the United Racing Series continues to bring out top talent and create a racing atmosphere that is one of a kind. www.apcracingseries.com .


APC Auto Parts Centres - APC opened its first branch in London in 1981. Since then, 47 branches have been added to the network, which now stretches across South and Central Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area. Supply and support of APC stores is carried out from our 200,000 sq ft. state of the art distribution centre in London, Ontario. Our Mississauga location is 40,000 sq.ft. and operates as a hub servicing just-in-time inventories to the GTA stores.

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