HERMON — Last year, Hermon’s Mike Hopkins won the first annual John Phippen Jr. Memorial Race in convincing fashion. It was his first-ever win in a 100-lap race.
Hopkins made it two in a row this season with another impressive performance as he led from start to finish to capture the second annual John Phippen Jr./Allen Fletcher Memorial Late Model 100-lapper Thursday night at Speedway 95.
He survived a restart with 13 laps remaining to beat Orrington’s John Kalel Jr. by 1.28 seconds.
Unity Raceway regulars Frank Moulton and Brian Whitney, both of Burnham, finished third and fourth, respectively, and Winterport’s Joey Doyon was fifth in the 14-car field.
Kalel II took a brief lead on the lap-87 restart but the caution flag came out because he had jumped the restart and the caution flag came out because of it.
Hopkins, who was in the process of going around Kalel anyway when the flag was thrown, pulled away on the next restart and never looked back.
“I tried to play a little cat-and-mouse on the restart hoping I could clear him but I didn’t,” said Kalel.
“The car actually ran better than last year and last year it was pretty unstoppable,” said Hopkins, who turned 27 last Thursday and was driving a Ford Fusion.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better race car,” Hopkins added. “I could get into the corners so well and then rotate through the center. No matter where I went, the thing was really, really good. It was stable and really fun to drive.
“Even when John jumped me on the restart, I was going back around him and almost cleared him when the caution came out,” said Hopkins. “The caution was a bonus.”
Hopkins added that he wanted to lead as many laps as he could to pocket the lap money.
He earned $25 for every sponsored lap he led in addition to pocketing the winner’s purse of $1,200.
Kalel, who took home $600, was pleased with his showing.
“I wanted to win but for what we had and what we were up against, I’m pretty happy,” said the 25-year-old Kalel, who started third in his Chevy Monte Carlo.
“I didn’t have anything at the end. The car went away after 70-80 laps. I blistered the right front tire because I had to run on the bottom so long and it got so hot,” Kalel added.
Moulton was equally satisfied with third after starting fourth.
“It was our first time up here in a few years so we threw a setup on it and hoped it went well. I was pretty happy with third. The car was pretty good but it kind of went away on long runs. It got a little loose off [the corners],” said the 23-year-old Moulton.
Moulton, who is fourth in points at Unity, was driving a Chevy and he took home $525.
Whitney, second in points at Unity, pocketed $475 and Doyon earned $450.
Stockton Springs’ Duane Seekins had a forgettable evening as his first car had problems so he went all the way back home to get another car only to have the engine blow up on the fourth lap of the heat race.
The race was in memory of Phippen and Milford’s Fletcher, longtime racers who died.
Town Hill’s Phippen suffered a heart attack after racing at Speedway 95 in 2010 and Milford’s Fletcher died three days after sustaining a head injury in a wreck at Unity Raceway in 2002.
OTHER 95 RESULTS: Sportsman: 1. D.J. Moody, Prospect; 2. Steve Moulton, Holden; 3. Jeremy Glazier, Appleton; 4. Kris Matchett, Skowhegan; 5. Derek Mingo, Lamonine; Strictly Street: 1. Andrew McLaughlin, Harrington; 2. Jim Carr Jr., Clifton; 3. Alex Berry, Harrington; 4. Shelby Kimball, Cornville; 5. Matt Kimball, Cornville; Sport Four: 1. Zach Audet, Skowhegan; 2. Bradley Dolan, Glenburn; 3. Emma Libby, Glenburn; 4. Becky Elston-Burns, Carmel; 5. Brad Bosworth, Cornville; Bombers: 1. Garett Hayman, Milford; 2. Scott Bonney, Bangor; 3. Emma Libby, Glenburn; 4. Jeremy Scott, Carmel; 5. Russell, Blenkhorn, Bucksport