1: Can Andrew Gresel repeat his dominance?
In 2016, Andrew Gresel, driving the McRobert Fuels #81, simply put was on a different level. Gresel’s 2016 season consisted of 5 Wins, 6 Top 5s, 8 Top 10s, and 3 poles in 9 starts. If not for mechanical trouble at Sunset in August that stat line could very well have another top 5 or even another victory. However as dominant as Gresel’s 2016 season was it was not until the final event at Delaware that he locked up the championship where as many as 5 drivers were still mathematically involved in the battle for the championship.
One slip up in that event or any other for that matter and the series could very well be have had a different 2016 champion. Is this the year that Shawn ‘the mastodon’ Chenoweth finally cracks the code after back to back top 3 points finishes & 3 series race victories? Or will Jamie Cox who has been so close to his first career series win with 4 second place finishes to date be able to secure a championship in 2017 and improve on his 2nd place finish last season?
Also don’t forget about other series top performers Matt Pritiko (5th in 2016), Jason Parker (5th in 2015), Josh Stade (6th in 2015) or perennial sleeper pick Mat Box (3rd in 2015). Could a new face to the series make a huge impact and take a run at the 2017 Series Championship?
2: New Faces, can they make an impact?
As the calendar turned to 2017 and series registrations started rolling in for the upcoming season, the new faces to the series continued to grow. One of the new faces the series will see on a full time basis in 2017 will be J.R. Fitzpatrick in the #37 driving for Marvin Freiburger, who noted: “I am so thankful for this opportunity to run for this #37 team in the APC series.”
J.R. is a name well known not only in Ontario short track racing but in North American racing as whole. Some other new names on the 2017 roster include Bill Pearsall, Corey Jones, & JR Farrelly, All of whom are believed to be competing on a full time basis in 2017 and are all very well known in short track racing around Ontario, competing in several different classes including different forms of late models throughout the years. Could one of these gentleman take a run at some victories or a championship?
Not only will the series see some new faces on a full time basis there will be several drivers competing on a part time basis including Jason Hathaway & the ironman Gary Elliot. Hathaway is certain to be a front runner at several of the events he competes in as he focuses on his Pro Late Model program for 2017 and takes a step back from his national touring program. Elliot plans to compete at his home track of Flamboro as well as several other events in 2017 and looks to be a threat as he is certain to have experience at any track the series attends.
To go along with all the new faces in 2017 there will also be the return of several drivers who did not compete full time in 2016, but have completed various series events in previous seasons. Chris Mitchell, Dwayne Baker, and Mark Watson look to compete full time in 2017 and are all championship hopefuls. In addition to all these veterans taking a stab at the APC Series in 2017 there will be some young guns looking to throw their hat in the ring. Currently the series has 3 drivers who will compete for the 2017 MacMaster Orangeville rookie of the year including Patrick Freel, Treyten Lapcevich, and Hudson Nagy. With so many new faces and the return of several prominent faces, the roster for 2017 is absolutely littered with talent and every event will be a fight to the end.
3: Young Stars to battle for MacMaster Orangeville rookie of the year
In addition to all the new faces joining the series in 2017 there will be a very compelling rookie of the year battle. The series currently has 3 drivers in line for the MacMaster Orangeville rookie of the year. The battle will be between youngsters Treyten Lapcevich, Patrick Freel, and Hudson Nagy. Treyten and Hudson are both coming off very strong 2016 seasons in super stocks at each of their home tracks of Sunset and Flamboro respectively. While Freel is coming off a solid season where he consistently ran upfront in the Ontario Pro Challenge Series.
“It's going to be really challenging jumping into the new car and running against some of the best late model racers in the province. Although I've had a little bit of experience at other tracks I've mostly ran Sunset so it may be a bit difficult to adapt to different tracks in the amount of practice time that we're given,” says Treyten Lapcevich Rookie Driver of the #32.
The 2016 rookie of the year went to Shae Gemmell who fought off Paighton Jacobs, both drivers now look ahead to their sophomore season behind the wheel of a Pro Late Model and do what inaugural rookie of the year Billy Schwartzenburg did and improve on their strong rookie season by competing for victories and jumping into a top 10 points finish. With so many young guns in the series the present not only looks bright but so does the future. These young drivers will look to learn from veterans and perhaps even steal some top finishes away from the more experience drivers of the series.
4: New track on the schedule, how will Jukasa Motor Speedway factor in?
Every time a driver talks about the upcoming season one of the hot topics of discussion is the August 26th and 27th event at Jukasa Motor Speedway (Formerly known as Cayuga Motor Speedway). This event will be very unique event to the series. The series typically runs qualifying/last chance race followed later in the same day by a 100 lap main event feature.
This event at Jukasa will hold qualifying and last chance qualifier on the Saturday with twin 75 lap point races on the Sunday. Each 75 lap event will award $5,000 to the winner as well as championship points. There will also be an additional bonus prize of $2,000 for the day to the driver who accumulates the most championship points between the two events.
Early predictions for this event have the car count well over 40 and is sure to eclipse that number as the event gets closer. While not many series drivers have actually raced at the former Cayuga speedway before re-pavement this past summer all have heard the storied history of the speedway.
“Unfortunately it went through its heyday before I was old enough to appreciate it. I love that a new track will be a total wildcard; I’m hoping my crew chief Ken Spira can find the hot setup and we are a contender at Jukasa. With the repave it’s definitely going to be fast and it should be a fun weekend,” said Billy Schwartzenburg driver of the Spira Racing #86.
All drivers, fans, and sponsors alike are ecstatic to get to the very fast banked speedway located in Cayuga ON, and help the speedway with its grand opening event featuring Ontario’s premier Pro Late Models in the APC Series.
“We are excited to have the APC United Late Model Series headline our opening weekend at Jukasa Motor Speedway. This facility was always known for top notch late model racing and Luke Ramsay and the team at APC have put together a great series that is full of stars and it's ultra-competitive with strong fields of cars,” noted the General Manager of Jukasa Motor Speedway, Alex Nagy. “Our fans have been waiting for this day for a long time so it will be a special weekend with a lot going on and we can't wait to get started. We will celebrate the rich history of the facility and start a new chapter.”
5: How will the new qualifying format affect the field?
The Series will adopt a new qualifying format for Bennett GM Pole Qualifying in 2017 which has been greatly received by race teams. In 2016 the series used the classic qualifying format which would see 1 car go on the track at a time and complete 2 laps with the better of the two times being their lap. The field would then be lined up fastest to slowest with the top 5 having a pill draw invert.
For 2017 the series will use a new group qualifying format. Cars will be split into three groups based on practices times. Each group will the go on the track for a pre-determined amount of time (Times of Session will vary on track) and will complete laps to determine starting order. The pill draw invert for the top 5 qualifiers will continue to take place.
In addition to the change to qualifying format there is a slight change in points for qualifying as well, in 2016 points were award 5 for 1st down to 1 for 5th. For 2017 points will be award as 3 for 1st down to 1 for 3rd.
Many drivers have expressed their excitement for the new format including driver of the #2 Rick Burbridge who has stated previously that the single car format did not translate well for him and his team as it is not something that local tracks do. This new format will allow teams to be comfortable putting down fast times with other cars around. The new format will be interesting to follow all season long, it will be interesting to see if some drivers who did not enjoy the previous single car format will be able to get starting spots closer to the front and challenge for victories as a result of not being stuck back in traffic.
“I think it will be good changing up the format trying new things keep the series interesting trying different and new things! I’m Looking forward to the qualifying myself sometimes it takes me a few laps to get into the swing of things,” says Josh Stade driver of the # 17 when asked what he thought of the new qualifying format.
With the 2017 quickly approaching these 5 topics are only a few of the things you need to know. There will be many storylines to follow in addition to each of these. However these 5 will certainly be on the top of the list for many people, and be discussed as we move closer to the series kick-off event May 27th at Sunset International Speedway for the Gumout 100.
Who will be crowned the 2017 APC Series Champion, can anyone stop Andrew Gresel, what new faces will make an impact, which rookie will surprise, what impact will the addition of Jukasa have, and how will the new qualifying format impact the starting order? Find out the answer to these questions and many more with the 2017 APC Series.
Full 2017 Roster can be seen here - http://www.apcracingseries.com/drivers
All 2017 Series Sponsors can be seen here - http://www.apcracingseries.com/partners
2017 Schedule can be seen here - http://www.apcracingseries.com/schedule