The race marked the halfway point in the season before a well deserved mid-summer break ahead of a very busy August. 24 top Pro Late Model teams were in attendance for the event in front of a packed house at the Milgrove, Ontario track.
Bennett GM Pole Qualifying was the first official competition on the evening as drivers were let loose for laps laps at a time to register their fastest times. Matt Pritiko topped the qualifying sessions with a lap time of 14.981, barely missing the track record that was set during the Meinke 100 in June. Brandon Watson qualified in the second position, Andy Kamrath third, Shae Gemmell fourth and Shawn Chenoweth rounded out the top five.
The main event, the London Recreational Racing 100, began with Andy Kamrath on the pole after the pill draw as Brandon Watson rolled off on his high side. Pole Sitter Matt Pritiko began the race from inside of row three as the rest of the field roared to life from behind. Matt Lockwood, who was running car #8 for Jason Parker, blew an engine in practice and went to the shop to swap it before the start of the race. Lockwood’s team left, changed engines, and returned to the track in three hours time and rolled off from the rear of the field.
As the field came to complete two laps there was a major crash that resulted in Chris Mitchell climbing the outside wall in turn three, riding it and almost going over. Several other drivers including Michael Gold, Tom Gibbons, Josh Stade, Billy Schwartzenburg, and Mat Box were involved. The crash resulted in a 30 minute red flag as Mitchell’s car had to be lifted over the outside fence and into the pit area. Schwartzenburg went to the pit area and would not return until later in the race, Gold would not return and all other drivers would continue.
The race would resume with Brandon Watson as the control car as he led the previous lap, however Kamrath would take the spot back from the high side just a lap later. On lap 16 JR Fitzpatrick had a mechanical failure entering turn trhee and crashed hard into the outside wall. Fluid was laid down on the track as a result and Matt Lockwood also crashed hard into the outside wall. 30 laps into the race Shawn Chenoweth moved past Jamie Cox for the fourth position after pressuring for a number of laps.
The race would continue from this point on a long green flag run that saw the top half of the field racing nose to tail as Andy Kamrath led the way. Brandon Watson pressured hard from behind giving love taps almost every corner, all while working to hold off a hungry Matt Pritiko. Shawn Chenoweth quickly closed the gap and worked the back bumper of Pritiko while the field charged hard from behind. Jamie Cox maintained the fifth position as Shae Gemmell worked him over lap after lap in one of several battles around the tight bullring.
On lap 63 Shawn Chenoweth had a scare as he got wicked loose off of turn four and went all the way to the edge of the pavement to gather his LRR #89c. 78 laps into the race Matt Pritiko muscled his way around Brandon Watson after Watson slid up the track while fighting for the top position. As a result of the battle, Shawn Chenoweth went for third on Watson and the two made contact, sending Chenoweth around in turn one. This would bring out the race’s third caution flag, giving the drivers a rest after a tremendous run that can not be described with words.
On the restart, Josh Stade went around in turn one resulting in the races fourth and final caution. On lap 80 Shae Gemmell moved into fourth position with a pass on Jamie Cox. The front three drivers would battle extremely hard, but clean for the final 20 laps of the London Recreational Racing 100. Brandon Watson searched high and low for a way around Andy Kamrath, looking for his fifth consecutive victory. The front drivers ran nose to tail, never falling more than two-tenths of a second off of each other in a battle that many described as incredible. Race fans roared for 20 straight laps as the drivers brought them to the edge of their seats as the laps continued to tick off. Kamrath would hold off Watson for the win, his first career APC United Late Model Series victory, ending the win streak for the #9 team. Matt Pritiko would finish in the third position as Shae Gemmell and Jamie Cox rounded out the top five.
The next event for the APC Series is the Spira Beat the Heat 100 on August 5th at Sauble Speedway, part of the APC Battle by the Beach weekend. The event is the sixth event on the 2017 tour and kicks-off a very busy August for the series. The event starts at 6:00pm, more information can be found on www.APCRacingSeries.com