The Prelude to the Nationals at Jukasa Motor Speedway brought excitement to Hagersville, Ontario Saturday night during the third race of the APC United Late Model Series season. A late-race caution that eliminated defending champion J.R. Fitzpatrick ultimately helped seal the deal for 2017 series champion Brandon Watson.
By winning the event, Watson is guaranteed a starting spot in the $75,000-to-win Canadian Short Track Nationals on Labour Day Weekend. The event is expected to bring in top talent from all over North America, making the guaranteed starting spot a great thing for Watson to have in his back pocket.
After qualifying Second to Jo Lawrence, Watson, along with the rest of the top 10 qualifiers, partook in a pill draw to determine starting positions. Watson would draw ten, the worst possible pull. To nobody’s surprise, Watson was up front battling for the lead in no time.
“We definitely started off on the loose side and in the end, it kind of played to our advantage,” Watson told Speed51. “That was really good. The car tightened up later on and we were able to get up to the front fairly early and stay up there, try and be in a spot to make a pass late in the end, and we did, fortunately enough to come out with the win.”
One of the favorites to win, J.R. Fitzpatrick brought out the caution on Lap 89 after he slid along the turn 1 wall when he had a right-side tire go down. At this point, Watson had already taken the lead but with Fitzpatrick out of contention, Watson had the upper hand for the closing laps.
“It’s definitely a lot of fun. I didn’t want to miss a race here at Jukasa; the facility is amazing,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun racing here, we’re looking to getting back here.”
As the Prelude to the Nationals has come to an end, Watson has his sights set on returning to Jukasa Motor Speedway for the Canadian Short Track Nationals with a great mind set and a new race car.
“We have our new car built from McColl Racing Enterprises, it’s a great piece,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll have a little better luck than last year. We had a good run last year but just fell short in the end so hopefully we can have another good run and be up there in the end again.”
Heading in to the 2019 season, Watson had different plans for himself than last year. After an impressive season in 2018, he elected not to make another championship run this season. Instead, he hopes to compete in a variety of events in the United States and his home state of Canada.
“We had a few races in the states earlier in the year. We’re going to Toledo next weekend, so hopefully we can keep it going down there”
Alas, the allure to the APC Series never fails. When asked about racing more APC Series races this year, Watson indicated that his full schedule is to-be-determined.
“We’re thinking about it. Hopefully we can, it’s a great series. I have a lot of fun coming here, so hopefully we can make a couple more races.”
With the Canadian Short Track Nationals glooming two months away, drivers and fans are gearing up to head back to “Canada’s Crown Jewel” to see their favorite short track drivers from around North America.
To see the great talent pool in the APC Series, you’ll only have to wait one week as the series is back in action Saturday, June 29 at Delaware Speedway for another 100 laps.
-Story by: Kendra Adams, Speed51.com Ontario Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com