Hermon’s Mike Hopkins said he needed a win in Sunday’s Darling’s.com 150-lap Late Model race at Hermon’s Speedway 95 during Paul Bunyan Speed Weekend.
It took him just one lap to take the lead, and he led the final 149 laps to take the checkered flag for the second time in four years.
Hopkins, who also won the race in 2016, has had a memorable season. He leads the PASS Super Late Model National series with a victory among his four top-five finishes in five races. His fifth-place finish at the 46th annual Oxford 250 was his best ever in that event.
He also has three top-five finishes in eight career PASS North Super Late Model races but had just one win this season entering Sunday’s race.
“I’ve had a lot of top-fives and seconds. I needed that win for morale and confidence,” said Hopkins, who pocketed $3,500 for the victory. “It’s a good win. I’m the only two-time winner.”
Winthrop’s Ben Ashline was second and Asa Jones of Sullivan wound up third in the 22-car field.
Rounding out the top 10 were Harrington’s Andrew McLaughlin, Milford’s Dean Smart, Holden’s Steve Kimball, Joey Doyon of Frankfort, Kris Matchell of Skowhegan, Sumner’s Anthony Constantino and Shane Clark of Winterport.
Hopkins was driving a converted Super Late Model car he took to a second-place finish at the Boss Hogg 150 at Wiscasset Speedway on Sept. 1.
“The car was better than the driver,” said Hopkins, who lapped all but the second- and third-place finishers and crossed the finish line 10 seconds ahead of Ashline.
The car belongs to long-time friend John McCarron and Hopkins and McCarron decided to run it in the Boss Hawg 150 “because I had won the race the previous year and didn’t have a car to defend it in.”
Then McCarron, who originally intended to sell the car, decided to convert it to a Late Model for the Darling’s race. Hermon’s Anthony Wilcox did all the work converting the car, Hopkins said.
The 34-year-old Hopkins added that racing at his home track helped.
“I could get around there with my eyes closed,” he said.
He will drive his own car the rest of his season, which includes a 150-lap PASS Super Late Model race at Oxford Plains Speedway on Saturday afternoon, a national championship SLM 150-lapper at Seekonk (Massachusetts) Speedway on Oct. 26 and the Lanier 200 national championship SLM race Nov. 16 in Braselton, Georgia.
Hopkins has a 37-point lead over Derek Griffith of Hudson, New Hampshire, in the PASS SLM National point standings and an 83-point edge over third-place Travis Benjamin of Morrill.
“I’d like to win the national championship and win a couple of races. It’s pretty hard to win a Super Late Model race. There’s a lot of competition,” he said.
In the Ikey Dorr Memorial 100-lap Casella Recycling Street Stock race, Billy Childs of Leeds defended his title by 0.56 of a second over Levant’s Shane Tatro. Forty cars entered the race and 30 took the green flag.
Cole Robinson of Clinton was third, followed by Kenuskeag’s Kris Watson, Bob Seger Jr. of Frankfort, Zach Emerson and Jonathan Emerson, both of Sabattus, Milford’s Garett Hayman, Clinton’s Kyle Robinson and Frankfort’s Joey Doyon.
Childs won $2,500.
Pittston’s Jason Kimball won both 25-lap Casella Waste Systems Sport Four features, which were held Sunday because Saturday’s races were washed out. Hudson’s Donny Silva was second in both races while Kevin Bernatchez of Vassalboro was third in the first feature, and Roy Hathorn of Brownville was third in the second race.
In the two Cap’s Tavern Modified Enduro features, Dustin Carrow of Carmel was followed across the finish line by Farmington’s Donnie Blanchard and Stetson’s Keith Drost in the first race while Drost won the second followed by Blanchard and Winterport’s Ricky Palmer.
Brad Bellows of China won the Kenny U-Pull Caged Runners race followed by Jason Trundy of Newburgh and James Goodman of Carmel.
Carrow won the demolition derby.