Andrew Gresel was among the top three all day during the APC Series Canada Day showdown at Delaware Speedway and when the checkered flag waved, the McRobert Fuels No.81 Ford Fusion was on the podium for the third straight race.
Gresel's third-place finish continues his strong start to the APC Series season where he has not finished outside the top-5 this season. The Sauble Falls, Ont. native had to work for the strong run as he overcame a few issues in practice and afternoon rainfall.
"In practice we were bottoming out so we had to raise the front end of the car," Gresel explained. "I was surprised. I had it setup the way we did last year, but it was eating the track a little bit so we had to make some adjustments to raise the front end. Once we got it clearing the track, the car was working really good. We ran into some rain so we didn't get as much practice as we wanted."
The afternoon rainfall forced drivers to be versatile and react quickly as it took most of the grip out of the racetrack for time trials. Fortunately for Gresel, he earned a spot in the final qualifying group after earning the third-fastest time in practice. Gresel maintained the same spot after time trials and was third quickest.
"We had a good pace going," Gresel said of his qualifying run. "We had three good laps and then the car started getting loose on us. We ended up having too much stagger in it. We had to fix that after qualifying and I'm glad we did that."
Following qualifying, Gresel pulled the fourth starting spot in the redraw and lined up outside of row two for the 100-lap main event. The outside groove starting spot forced Gresel to be swift in his move to get back to the bottom lane.
"I probably would have rather started fifth on the inside line," Gresel said. "We had to work to get down a bit right off the start, but we managed. I thought we were going to go back to eighth before we got back down."
Gresel's quick move allowed him to maintain the fourth, which was key in his pursuit of Jamie Cox for the third spot during a long green flag run that followed a couple of early cautions.
"There were a lot of good battles," Gresel said. "We were on Cox for about 20 laps before we could get around him. It took a long time to get around him. By the time we got around him, we were sitting third and the top two guys were basically gone. It turned into a 65-lap or so green flag run."
A late-race restart allowed Gresel to get by Shae Gemmell for the second spot, but a slip in the final two corners bumped Gresel back to third.
"We got up to the second spot and I should have finished second, but I guess maybe through turns three and four I pushed it in maybe a touch hard and it kind of drifted up on me," Gresel explained. "Gemmell got back underneath me to take the second spot from us. He passed us coming over the line."
While Gresel certainly would have liked to extend his win streak at Delaware with the APC Series to three races, he is still content that his team had another strong run and remains in the championship hunt.
"We're having some good consistent runs," Gresel said. "There's nothing to complain about there. We got a third spot in qualifying so we got one bonus point there. It's going well."
The Canada Day event was a particularly special event for Gresel, who was returning to one of his former home tracks. The homecoming was an excellent opportunity to race in front of local sponsors Ron O'Brien of Remax, McRobert Fuels and Hy-Grade Roofing.
"The whole gang was there watching the race," Gresel said. "It would have been nice to get a win for them, but parking on the front stretch isn't a bad thing. We just have to stay in the game. We have to get a little bit of a break maybe somewhere here. It's a good solid season so far."
Gresel will be back in action for round five on the APC United Late Model Series schedule in the London Recreational Racing 100 at Flamboro Speedway on Saturday, July 15. For additional event information, visit www.apcracingseries.com and www.flamborospeedway.ca.
81 Andrew Gresel – 4 Starts: 0 Wins, 4 Top-5s, 4 Top-10s