The APC United Late Model Series is set to kick off its 2017 campaign this weekend at the Sunset International Speedway in Innisfil, Ontario for the running of the Gumout 100. The race will mark the beginning of the third season of operation for Ontario’s premier racing series.
In 2016, Late Model veteran Andrew Gresel stepped into the spotlight with eight top-10 finishes, which featured five wins en route to the points championship. Gresel will return to action this weekend with hopes of defending his title from a year ago.
However, he will have no easy task when it comes to defending that title as several drivers will be returning to the series in 2017 with hopes of getting their name in the APC Series record book. One of those drivers is Jamie Cox who enters the weekend fresh off of an appearance at the Short Track U.S Nationals at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) last weekend. Cox who finished second in points a year ago will be one of those drivers looking for a little more in 2017.
“I think this is going to be the toughest season yet with the level of talent that we have in this series now,” Cox told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
Not only will the veterans be back in 2017, but the series will also be seeing several new faces on track this season. Possibly the biggest of them all is J.R Fitzpatrick who brings 11 NASCAR Pinty’s Series wins with him and is certainly a driver to have your eyes on every time he is in the field. J.R will be running for car owner Marvin Frieburger as he makes a run for the 2017 championship.
“This year is going to be a whole new adventure and challenge for not just my self but the entire team,” Fitzpatrick stated. “Joining J.R Motorsports with Marvin Frieburger Racing is an amazing partnership that we are both thankful for. I love the amount of competition in this tour and the rules package improves every year giving all racers an even playing field. I am more use to the longer races and I think with my experience that will help me some.”
Another name on the driver roster with NASCAR experience is Jason Hathaway. Although it is believed that Hathaway will not be running the entire schedule, he will definitely be a contender for wins whenever he is in the race. Looking forward to this Saturday’s race at Sunset, Hathaway may be a favourite to win as he has plenty of experience around the fast bullring in both a Late Model and NASCAR Pinty’s Series car.
There is all of this talk about the veteran faces of the series, yet there is a good chance that we will be seeing some young guns in victory lane this season. Rookies Treyten Lapcevich, Patrick Freel and Hudson Nagy will battle for Rookie of the Year honors in 2017. Lapcevich is a former champion at Sunset Speedway and is coming off a sixth-place finish in his first ever Late Model race at Flamboro Speedway.
“Being my series debut, I’m just going be really patient and not put myself into any bad situations,” Lapcevich said.
Other young drivers to keep an eye on will be sophomores Shae Gemmell and Paighton Jacobs who will look to build off successful 2016 seasons while 2015 series Rookie of the Year Billy Schwartzenburg will be looking for his first series win after a strong showing a year ago.
With so much talent set to take the green flag on the 2017 season Saturday night, it is hard to predict a winner. However, we are in for a great season of APC United Late Model Series action and it all kicks off this Saturday, May 27 with the running of the Gumout 100 at Sunset International Speedway. The green flag is set to wave at 7:30 pm EST.
-By Jaxson Jacobs, Speed51.com Canadian Correspondent
-Photo credit: Alain Thiboutot