Story By: KYLE SOUZA / AMERICAN-CANADIAN TOUR – OXFORD, ME – Hermon, ME’s Mike Hopkins stretched the streak of first-time American-Canadian Tour (ACT) winners to five straight events with a commanding victory at Maine’s Oxford Plains Speedway on Sunday, July 11.
The reigning Pro All Stars Series (PASS) National Champion started on the pole of a 29-car field and stayed ahead of some wild action behind him for a wire-to-wire win at the Oxford 150.
In the process, Hopkins became the 83rd different winner in ACT Late Model Tour history. The series now has six different winners in six races at the season’s halfway mark.
Hopkins earned the first starting position by going from 10th to 5th in his qualifying heat for a plus-five under ACT’s longstanding “plus-minus” system. The field got feisty early with two quick cautions for spins by Joey Laquerre and Reilly Lanphear, respectively. Defending ACT champion Jimmy Hebert also got a piece of the first accident, rendering the former Oxford winner a non-factor for the rest of the evening.
Once the field sorted itself out, Hopkins showed what his Port City Racecars Chevy Camaro was capable of. He slowly but surely pulled away with Barre’s Nick Sweet the only driver who could even stay in his zip code. Things stayed active behind them with Dylan Payea, Derek Gluchacki, D.J. Shaw, Ben Rowe, and others trying to slice their way to the front.
Another flurry of cautions flew between laps 43 and 70, which included ACT point leader Tom Carey III grinding to a halt with a flat right front tire on lap 48. When another long green-flag run ensued, the same song repeated itself, with Hopkins driving off even as he negotiated through heavy lapped traffic.
With the race winding down, things got desperate throughout the field, and it showed in the amount of bent sheet metal. Six cautions flew between laps 106 and 139, which included one for an eight-car turn-one logjam following a lap-133 restart.
The repeated yellows gave Sweet and Gluchacki, who had established themselves as the “best of the rest”, plenty of chances to show what they had for Hopkins. Time after time, their bids came up empty, as the redhead could seemly put his #15ME wherever he wanted to on the 3/8-mile oval. After the last yellow on lap 139 for Stephen Donahue’s turn-two spin cycle, Hopkins put the hammer down and drove off into the setting Maine sun for his first ACT win.
North Dartmouth, MA’s Gluchacki got past Sweet following the lap-134 dustup to get second, which was his best career ACT finish. Barre, VT’s Sweet took third in the first time out for his new family car. Center Conway, NH’s Shaw finished fourth, meaning that three of the top four were “double-duty” drivers who immediately jumped into the PASS Super Late Model feature.
Candia, NH’s Jimmy Renfrew Jr., the winner the last time out, made a late run to come home fifth. New Salem, MA’s Carey recovered from his flat tire to place sixth and unofficially retain the point lead. Payea, Ben Rowe, Trenton Goodrow, and rookie Shawn Swallow rounded out the top-10.
The ACT Late Model Tour returns to North Woodstock, NH’s White Mountain Motorsports Park on Saturday, July 31 for the Midsummer Classic 250. The richest and longest point-counting race of the year offers a $10,000 prize to the winner. ACT will be joined by the local Wells River Chevrolet Flying Tigers, Woodsville Guaranty Savings Bank Strictly Stock Mini’s, and Dads 4 By Tool & Supply Kids Trucks. Admission is $25 for adults, $5 for kids ages 6-12, and $50 for a family of four (2 adults, 2 kids).
OXFORD PLAINS SPEEDWAY — Oxford, ME
ACT LATE MODEL TOUR
Pos., Start Pos., Driver, Car #, Hometown, Laps
1. ( 1 ) Mike Hopkins ( 15ME ) , Hermon, ME , 150 Laps
2. ( 9 ) Derek Gluchacki ( 03MA ) , North Dartmouth, MA , 150 Laps
3. ( 5 ) Nick Sweet ( 88VT ) , Barre, VT , 150 Laps
4. ( 10 ) D.J. Shaw ( 04VT ) , Center Conway, NH , 150 Laps
5. ( 14 ) Jimmy Renfrew Jr. ( 00NH ) , Candia, NH , 150 Laps
6. ( 16 ) Tom Carey III ( 5MA ) , New Salem, MA , 150 Laps
7. ( 2 ) Dylan Payea ( 7NH ) , Milton, VT , 150 Laps
8. ( 15 ) Ben Rowe ( 4ME ) , Turner, ME , 150 Laps
9. ( 12 ) Trenton Goodrow ( 31MA ) , Carver, MA , 150 Laps
10. ( 19 ) #Shawn Swallow ( 04NH ) , Lancaster, NH , 150 Laps
11. ( 18 ) Dillon Moltz ( 5ME ) , New Sharon, ME , 150 Laps
12. ( 13 ) #Kasey Beattie ( 45NH ) , St. Johnsbury, VT , 150 Laps
13. ( 8 ) Jesse Switser ( 25NH ) , West Burke, VT , 150 Laps
14. ( 11 ) Jimmy Hebert ( 58VT ) , Williamstown, VT , 149 Laps
15. ( 29 ) Corey Mason ( 1NH ) , Groveton, NH , 149 Laps
16. ( 3 ) Stephen Donahue ( 2VT ) , Graniteville, VT , 149 Laps
17. ( 4 ) Marcel J. Gravel ( 86VT ) , Wolcott, VT , 149 Laps
18. ( 17 ) Jamie Swallow Jr. ( 4NH ) , Lancaster, NH , 148 Laps
19. ( 24 ) #Erick Sands ( 36NH ) , Derry, NH , 148 Laps
20. ( 22 ) Peyton Lanphear ( 22VT ) , Waterbury, VT , 148 Laps
21. ( 25 ) Kris Matchett ( 17ME ) , Skowhegon, ME , 148 Laps
22. ( 20 ) Brockton Davis ( 47NH ) , Whitefield, NH , 147 Laps
23. ( 27 ) Chris Burgess ( 47ME ) , Hartford, ME , 147 Laps
24. ( 7 ) Bryan Mason ( 10NH ) , Milan, NH , 147 Laps
25. ( 26 ) David MacDonald ( 69ME ) , New Gloucester, ME , 146 Laps
26. ( 28 ) Reilly Lanphear ( 21VT ) , Waterbury, VT , 145 Laps
27. ( 21 ) Matt Anderson ( 49NH ) , Franklin, NH , 132 Laps
28. ( 6 ) Joey Laquerre ( 15VT ) , E. Montpelier, VT , 102 Laps
29. ( 23 ) Mike Foster ( 39VT ) , Williston, VT , 8 Laps
Lap Leaders: Mike Hopkins, 1-150. (0 lead changes among 1 driver)
Time of Race: 1 hour, 28 minutes, 34 seconds Margin of Victory: 1.172 seconds
Cautions: 11 (laps 1, 4, 43, 48, 70, 106, 122, 123, 133, 134, 139)
Heat Winners: Jesse Switser, Joey Laquerre, Jimmy Hebert
Consi Winner: Trenton Goodrow