Mike Hopkins always circles the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) Super Late Model race at Speedway 95 on his calendar.
It is one of the highlights of his racing season since he is racing in his hometown of Hermon.
When PASS founder and president Tom Mayberry expressed concern over last year’s low car count (there were 13), Hopkins wanted to make sure the race returned this season.
So his company, Hopkins Milling and Paving LLC, is sponsoring Sunday’s race thanks to the help provided by Mayberry. Racing begins at 1:30 p.m.
“Tom has been great to me,” Hopkins said. “He has been very supportive. We worked a deal that was very fair. He didn’t ask for a whole lot. Tom has helped me more than I have helped him.”
The 33-year-old Hopkins said the PASS North Super Late Model tour features the fastest stock cars available to be watched by local race fans.
“Growing up racing in the lower divisions, [watching PASS races] was something I always looked forward to,” Hopkins said. “It is like our Oxford 250. Nothing against the [weekly] Saturday night racing, but these are the best of the best.”
This will be Hopkins’ third PASS North race of the season and the tour’s sixth race in 2019. He has set his sights on chasing the points championship on the PASS SLM national tour.
He leads the points after three races, including a March 30 win at Richmond (Virginia) Raceway at the inaugural PASS Commonwealth Classic.
Hopkins finished 11th on April 7 at the Icebreaker 75 at Thompson Speedway in Connecticut and was second at the My ComputerCareer.edu Easter Bunny 150 at Hickory Motor Speedway in Hickory, North Carolina.
Hopkins has run in the top five in the past three PASS races at Speedway 95 after finishing 12th in 2014 and 11th in 2015.
Hopkins will be driving a brand-new Distance Racing Products Toyota on Sunday. It will be his first race in the car, although he has tested it already.
“We made sure all the bugs were out of it and the brakes worked. We’re going to be good. We’ll have just as good a chance as anybody,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins said Distance Racing Products owner Jeff Taylor and his staff take a lot of pride in their chassis.
Hopkins said 90 percent of the field is capable of winning and said the key to winning at Speedway 95 is being consistent.
“You have to set up your car so it can survive 150 laps. You’ve got to conserve your tires and be patient. You’ve got to make sure you’re out there [with a chance to win] at the end,” Hopkins said.
D.J. Shaw of Center Conway, New Hampshire, will be one of the favorites. The defending series points champion, who also won the title in 2016, has not finished lower than fourth in the past five PASS races at Speedway 95.
Derek Griffith of Hudson, New Hampshire, has a third, a first and a second in his past three trips to Hermon, and Scarborough’s Garrett Hall has two top-threes in his past three. Morrill’s Travis Benjamin has four top-fives in his past five starts at Hermon.
Hall, Shaw and Gabe Brown, also of Center Conway, New Hampshire, are running 1-2-3 in the points through five races. Hall and Shaw each have two wins.
Two other local drivers who could contend are Bangor’s Gary Smith and Ellsworth’s Andy Saunders.
The card also will include a PASS North Modifieds race.