Tuesday, September 21, 2021

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Dwayne Baker wins APC Auto Parts Centres Pro Late Model 100

Known for being strong in the long distance races, Dwayne Baker saved his equipment in the early laps and then took the lead at lap 32 before leading the rest of the way in his No. 48 Zancor Custom Homes, B&B Towing, Nisco National Leasing, Clearview Heating & Cooling, Four Valleys Excavating, Baker Performance Parts and Knightworks Design Late Model.

To kick off the night, each of the 21 Pro Late Models took to the track for a pair of qualifying laps, with Sean Cronan timing in quickest behind the wheel of his No. 84 The Lockeroom Sports Bar and Grill, McLaren Equipment, Craighurst Auto Pro, Spira Fire Protection and Fox’s Bakery and Deli. Cronan lapped the 3/8 mile track with a lap of 14.541 seconds, 11-hundreths quicker than second-place qualifier Taylor Holdaway. Brandon Watson timed in third, followed by Tom Walters, Jamie Cox, Jason Witty, Baker, Steve Laking, Chris Morrow, Nick Goetz and Mark Dilley.

The non-top 12 qualifiers were sent to the consolation race to set up the rest of the starting order. Starting in order of qualifying speed, NASCAR Whelen Modified Competitor Cole Powell worked his way through the field and took the win ahead of Jason Hathaway, Ryan Kimball, Jesse Kennedy, and Adam Quarrie. The 10-lap affair didn’t go without incident as Paul Maltese blew the motor on the last lap, getting in the wall as Gary Elliott spun around behind him in the oil.

When it came to invert, Sean Cronan would roll a 10 – therefore placing Nick Goetz on the pole. So Goetz would start pole ahead of last week’s Spring Derby 100 winner Chris Morrow, Steve Laking, Dwayne Baker, Jason Witty, Jamie Cox, Tom Walters, Brandon Watson, Taylor Holdaway and Cronan. Mark Dilley would start 11th, followed by Mike Bentley, Cole Powell, Jason Hathaway, Ryan Kimball, Jesse Kennedy, Adam Quarrie, Mat Box, Dale Shaw and Gary Elliott.

When they dropped the green flag, Morrow would grab the lead behind the wheel of his No. 11 Morrow Electric, Advanced Landscapes, Contractor Rental Supply and Duraflo Late Model and led till lap eighth. At that point, Steve Laking took his turn at leading behind the wheel of his No. 44 Laking Motorsports and Spira Fire Protection Late Model. Laking then led all the way till the first caution at lap 13 when a battle for positions fifth through seventh went wrong. Walters would get into Watson, therefore causing Watson to get into Cox and spinning Cox around. All three drivers were sent to the back as involved cars. With 87 laps to go, Laking led Morrow, Baker, Witty, Goetz, Cronan, Holdaway, Dilley, Hathaway, Powell, Bentley and Kennedy.

When the green flag flew, Morrow would move back to the point ahead of Laking and Witty. The top-three stayed that way till lap 27 when the second caution flew for Goetz spinning in turn four virtue of a tap from Powell. At the same time, Kimball would bring his car behind the wall due to heavy front-end damage that resulted in his No. 73 Jenzen Racing ride overheating. With 73 laps to go, Morrow led Laking, Witty, Baker, Dilley, Cronan, Holdaway, Hathaway, Bentley, Watson, Walters, Shaw, Cox, Box, Elliott and Powell.

Laking and Morrow would battle side-by-side for a pair of laps once the green flag was back in the air, before Laking would assume control of the lead. Laking got one lap of peace and quiet before Baker was side-by-side with him on lap 30 for the lead. Baker didn’t waste no time, either, as he cleared Laking a couple laps later and began to set sail. On lap 38, 2013 Sunset Speedway Limited Late Model Champion Mike Bentley would bring his No. 51 Streamline Race Products Mustang down pit road and retire from the event with a mechanical issue.

Meanwhile at the front of the field, Baker held down serve now ahead of Witty, Laking, Watson, Morrow, Dilley, Hathaway, Walters and Cronan at lap 41. Walters continued his climb, though, making his way by Hathaway for seventh before the caution at lap 54 for debris in turn two. With 46 laps to go, Baker led Witty, Laking, Watson, Morrow, Walters, Dilley, Hathaway, Holdaway, Shaw, Box, Cox, Elliott, Powell, Goetz, Cronan, Kennedy and Quarrie.

Baker held serve at the front of the field on the restart with Witty second while both Watson and Walters would make their way by Laking for respective positions. At the field drew down into the final 30 laps, they began to spread out, running single-file. With 26 laps to go, though, Goetz would bring his late model down pit road and out of the event due to mechanical issues.

With 20 laps to go, Baker continued to lead over Witty, Watson, Walters, Laking, Hathaway, Shaw, Holdaway, Dilley and Powell. The top 10 remained mostly single-file while Cox passed Morrow for 11th at lap 84. With 11 laps to go, Hathaway found a little bit of grip as he got by Laking while Holdaway passed Shaw at lap 90.

Though at the front, it was all Dwayne Baker as he would win by at least half a straightaway over Jason Witty. Brandon Watson finished third, followed by Tom Walters, Jason Hathaway, Steve Laking, Jason Shaw, Mark Dilley, Taylor Holdaway, Cole Powell, Jamie Cox, Chris Morrow, Sean Cronan, Mat Box, Gary Elliott, Adam Quarrie, Jesse Kennedy, Nick Goetz, Mike Bentley and Ryan Kimball.

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