HERMON — Mike Hopkins’ impressive winning streak was seriously challenged on Saturday night.
Hermon’s Hopkins had won all five features and every one of the heat races in the Late Model class at Speedway 95 entering Saturday night’s feature.
Liberty’s Josh St. Clair pushed him to the limit and Hopkins admitted that St. Clair had the better car but Hopkins stayed in the faster outside groove and held off repeated challenges by St. Clair to win the 35-lapper by one and a half car-lengths.
Winterport’s Shane Clark, Frankfort’s Bob Seger Jr. and pole-sitter Ryan Deane of Winterport was fifth.
“Josh was faster than I was,” conceded Hopkins, who started eighth in the 16-car field. “But I was able to keep the momentum on the outside and Josh couldn’t get off the bottom. The bottom was pretty crappy tonight. They sprayed it (traction compound) but that (gummed) it up too bad.”
Hopkins held off St. Clair despite having a tire that was going flat.
“I was close. But there was no grip on the bottom,” said St. Clair, who was involved in a first-lap incident and had to re-start in the back. “But the track was too hot today. There was nothing down there, I guess.
“(Hopkins) wasn’t giving up the top and that was the fast lane around this place,” added St. Clair. “I tried but I couldn’t get it done.”
.St. Clair’s grandfather, Dave, was involved in an accident with grandson Ryan, Josh’s brother, and couldn’t finish the race. Ryan St. Clair and Hermon’s Dale Swoboda got tangled and checked up and Dave St. Clair ran into the back of his grandson’s car.
That was one of several wrecks throughout an evening dominated by collisions.
There were two 35-lap races that were part of a three-race series in each division: the Sport-Fours and the Strictly Streets.
Ellsworth’s Bradley Norris took the checkered flag in the Sport-Fours by passing Milo’s Steve Heath on the inside with just under three laps remaining. His margin of victory was two car-lengths.
Carmel’s Becky Elston, who led 11 laps before Heath passed her for the lead, finished third with Eddington’s Jay Robichaud winding up fourth and Brownville’s Mike Heath taking fifth.
“Lapped traffic kind of messed me up,” said Steve Heath. “Brad went inside and I didn’t have quite enough room to get in front of him. A lapped car came up and slowed me down.
“But it was a good race. I love racing side-by-side with Brad,” added Heath.
Norris said he had his doubts whether he could get past Heath.
“Steve’s a great guy. He’s a hard competitor but he started to fall off just enough. It was really close on the restarts for a few laps and then I finally got him,” said Norris, who won his third straight feature.
Elston said she was “happy” with her third-place finish.
In the Strictly Streets feature, Harrington’s Andrew McLaughlin led from start to finish to collect his fifth victory in six races. His margin of victory was a comfortable 30 car-lengths.
“The car was a little bit loose the first few laps but after the tires got heated up, it was really good,” said McLaughlin. “I can’t say enough about my team: my father Dave, my brother Eric, Kevin Robinson and a bunch of other guys who help me. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am.”
Cody Brassbridge of Frankfort was second and Cornville’s Shelby Kimball finished third as she closed on Lamoine’s Derek Mingo over the last two laps and nosed him out after the two swapped paint and crossed the finish line tangled up.
“I’m going to apologize to (Mingo) for bumping him,” said Kimball. “He got a little loose but I think I came out a little wide.”
Shawn Hamel of Bangor rounded out the top five.
There were only six cars in the Sportsman class but there were two wrecks before they completed a lap.
Holden’s Steve Moulton was the beneficiary as he took the lead after starting third and led all the way en route to his third triumph.
Hermon’s Kris Watson duelled with Hermon’s Doug Sinclair for second and wound up earning the position. Sinclair’s car shut down on lap 23 of the 25-lap feature and he wound up fifth.
Bradley’s Tim Reyolds was third and Franklin’s Mike Overlock was fourth.
D.J. Moody of Prospect wasn’t able to start the race because Overlock lost control of his car as they approached the green flag to start the race and it careened into into Moody’s car, leaving it too damaged to run.
Sixteen-year-old Ryan Modery of Hermon posted his third win of the season as he passed 14-year-old Emma Libby of Glenburn on lap 11 of the 20-lap Bomber race and pulled away.
Libby was second followed by Milford’s Garret Hayman, Kevin Seekins of Frankfort and Hermon’s Swoboda.
The Wicked Good Vintage Racing League bunched four classes of cars into two features and several cars couldn’t run after wrecks in heat races.
So there were two winners in each feature.
Litchfield’s Jamie Henderson won the Late Model class followed by Wally Henderson, also of Litchfield, Bob Simmonds of Casco, Neil Martin of Freeport and Rosey Gerry of Lincolnville. The Modifieds also ran with the Late Models and Hal Clark of Bridgton won that class followed by Minot’s John Lizotte and Fairfield’s Dick McPhail.
The Sportsman class was captured by Carmel’s Duane Dunifer with Dover-Foxcroft’s Shawn Racila and Brewer’s Bob Oliver rounding out the top three. The Outlaws ran with the Sportsman and Milford’s Tim Reynolds won the Outlaws division followed by Ken Robinson of East Machias and Hermon’s Watson. Greg Veinotte of Newburgh was fourth.