APC United Late Model series still competitive despite Brandon Watson’s dominance

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On the stopwatch, the APC United Late Model series will take your breath away.

“You look at the top 10 qualifying times, I don’t think you would find another series in Canada, maybe the continent, that’s as tight as ours is,” Luke Ramsay, the tour’s president, said. “We’ll have 10 guys within a tenth of a second. It’s wild.”

It’s what makes the province’s pro late model circuit one of the best stories on the track these days.

But when the checkered flag is waved and it’s time to hand out the hardware each week, that’s when it gets to feel like Groundhog Day.

Last year, Andrew Gresel won five of nine events, cementing his title with the season-ending Great Canadian Race at Delaware Speedway.

And this season, Brandon Watson has won six of nine. He’s the clear favourite to triumph in the finale Saturday afternoon — especially since he already won on the previous stop at the local half-mile oval two months ago.

“They found something,” Ramsay said. “Motorsports is like that at every level. In NASCAR, you can get a dominant guy like the 78 car is this year (the Furniture Row Racing team with driver Martin Truex, Jr., and crew chief Cole Pearn, the pride of Mt. Brydges). It’s working well for them and momentum’s helped.

“The other teams will have to work harder to catch up.”

The binge-winning doesn’t bother the shot-callers. One of the heart-warming tales of the season was Jason Hathaway, the ex-Pinty’s series Ironman now driving on a part-time basis, sweeping the inaugural double-header at Jukasa Speedway (Cayuga) three weeks ago.

“We like equality and think it’s incredibly close,” Ramsay said. “Brandon Watson has had an incredible season, but we feel there’s still a lot of equality based on the lap and qualifying times.”

Last year, the top five in the points race, led by Gresel, accounted for eight of nine victories. This year, it’s only Watson, with his six.

Gresel won the title last year by 21 points. This year, he has more top-five and top-10 finishes, but finds himself in second, 52 back of Watson.

“Winning is a big part of racing, but overall, we’ve had a pretty consistent year,” the Sauble Beach native said. “It would’ve been nice to win a couple of races. It just didn’t play out that way and we weren’t able to capitalize on bonus points.

“We’ve had some good top-five finishes. Trying to get that (last) win at Delaware would really cap it off.”

There have been rule tweaks since Gresel’s 2016 dominance. One of the major changes was the enforcement of a restrictor plate.

Gresel is one of a handful of racers still running a Ford engine in what is growing into a Chevy-heavy field. The impact of that move, and the possibility of more tinkering, is sure to be a major off-season topic of conversation.

“This is our third year, and it’s been better than the second, which was better than the first,” Ramsay said. “We have no plans on folding the tent. We want to improve and move forward.”

Although Jukasa is sure to have an increased role in the future, the organizers still like Delaware as the season-ending site, where the overall winner is crowned.

“I’m not going to say it can’t change,” Ramsay said, “but right now, we’re proud to have the Great Canadian Race as our championship weekend.”




What: Great Canadian Race Weekend

Friday: Race of Champions modified series (qualifying, heats and 75-lap feature), super stocks, trucks, V-8 stocks, bone stocks, King of the Hill. Racing starts at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday: APC United Late Model Series finale (qualifying and 100-lap championship race), super stocks, trucks, V-8 stocks, bone stocks. Spectator gates open at noon. Event begins at 3 p.m.

More info: www.delawarespeedway.com

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