Andrew Gresel had to have his elbows up and battle for all 100 laps, but the end result was well worth the effort as he drove his McRobert Fuels/London Recreational Racing No.81 Ford Fusion to a fifth-place finish with the APC United Late Model Series in the LRR 100 at Flamboro Speedway on Saturday night.
The fifth-place finish was Gresel's third top-five and fifth top-10 in five starts so far this season with the top Pro Late Model series in Ontario. The strong finish didn't come easily though as Gresel was forced to drive from the12th starting position to achieve the result.
"We qualified 12th. We were in the 15.2s and the car felt good, but obviously it just wasn't quick enough," Gresel said. "The car felt pretty good and I was on the throttle nice and early, it just didn't carry enough speed."
When the green flag waved on the main event, Gresel had his work cut out for him right away as he was positioned in the outside lane on the narrow Flamboro track. While the initial start was tough, he eventually began to make his way forward.
"Starting 12th was definitely a bit of a battle," Gresel said. "It took a while just to get up to the front."
Gresel made his way into the top-five before a late-race wreck in front of him and the subsequent caution caused a bit of confusion and shuffled him back a few positions.
"We were running fifth or sixth and the caution came out," Gresel said. "The No.9 car got into the wall. When he was coming off the wall, we slowed up instead of running right into him. We kept the car rolling, but a bunch of guys went by on the inside. They came across the start-finish line, so they scored them ahead of us, I guess."
Restarting ninth with 22 laps to go, Gresel raced his way back into the top-five and held the spot on a restart that was a green-white-checkered finish. While he was happy with the run, he felt the mix-up on lap 78 cost him a podium finish.
"We had at least a third-place car," Gresel said. "They put us back to ninth with 22 laps to go, so to come back and finish fifth was alright, but it was tough. Overall, it was a good run. Obviously we're trying to capitalize on anything we can right now."
Gresel climbed to third in the championship standings with the top-five finish and now sits 43 points back of leader JR Fitzpatrick, but just six points ahead of ninth-place. The close standings are representative of how close the racing has been through the first half of the season, Gresel said.
"I think this year is probably a lot more competitive," Gresel added. "There's guys throwing everything they have at it, so it's pretty good racing."
Gresel will now shift his focus to the Spira Fire Protection Beat the Heat 100 at Sauble Speedway on August 4, which marks round six of the 2018 APC Series tour. Gresel has already run a few Limited Late Model races and a Super Late Model event at his home track this season and believes it will help his effort. However, he also knows the talent pool will be deep.
"The laps I've done so far at Sauble this year will help find the line, but we know the car has to get a bit better," Gresel explained. "We have a couple of weeks to get something figured out. A lot of guys are pretty fast at Flamboro and when we go to Sauble, the setup isn't too far off, so there's going to be a lot of good cars again."
For more information on the Spira Fire Protection Beat the Heat 100 at Sauble Speedway on August 4, visit www.saublespeedway.ca and www.apcracingseries.com.
Pro Late Model – 5 Starts: 0 Wins, 3 Top-5s, 5 Top-10s
Limited Late Model – 3 Starts: 0 Wins, 1 Top-5s, 2 Top-10s
Super Late Model – 1 Start: 1 Win, 1 Top-5, 1 Top-10