Mike Hopkins of Hermon celebrates his Coastal 200 win Sunday evening at Wiscasset Speedway. Travis Barrett photo

WISCASSET — From the start of qualifying through the first half of the race Sunday at Wiscasset Speedway, nothing went right for Mike Hopkins.

The Hermon racer started dead last in his qualifying heat, lined up in the back half of a deep starting field, and took a spin through the infield grass for good measure. All of that did little to dissuade Hopkins.

Hopkins turned in a dominant second half and cruised to his second consecutive Coastal 200 victory, this one worth a $15,000 winner’s check. He finished nearly three full seconds ahead of Palmyra’s Ben Ashline.

Chris Burgess of Hartford was third.

“I think I’ve raced here 10 times and I think I’ve been on the podium all but one time,” said Hopkins, who became the first repeat winner of the event since Ashline in 2018-19. “It’s kind of my wheelhouse. You’ve got to let it hang out, and you’ve got to race (the track). You’ve got to get up on the wheel and you can drive it very, very hard. If the race car’s not perfect, you can make up for it a little bit from the seat.

“I just think it’s so cool. I like the track a lot, and it’s been good for me.”

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Though Hopkins took the lead he would not relinquish on Lap 112, it was Lap 62 misfortune that set the stage for Hopkins, who is one of only two drivers to win both of Wiscasset Speedway’s signature events – the Coastal 200, and the Boss Hogg 150 in September. Ashline is the other.

After starting 15th, Hopkins spun off Turn 2 of the .333-mile oval while battling Shane Clark for third. The contact relegated Hopkins to the rear of the field, and after marching back as high as 10th, he opted to hit pit road for a two-tire change under a Lap 96 caution.

When the rest of the leaders, including Ashline, the pole-sitter, made their scheduled pit stops five laps later, Hopkins wound up ahead of all of them.

Eleven laps later, Hopkins was out front, and he put all but three other competitors a lap down by the time the checkered flag flew.

“We were good all day, (crew member Kevin Nobley), that was his plan,” Hopkins said of the early pit stop. “I told him it was his call, and I’d ride and die with him no matter what. We came and took tires and then we managed. I knew Ben and others were really good, and the guys kept telling me to slow down once we got out front. It’s so hard to do that and manage that gap.

“It was our day. We just got lucky.”

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Though all but a handful of the 28 cars that started the race were on the lead lap at the halfway mark, Hopkins quickly changed that once he had the lead. Josh St. Clair, who briefly stole the lead from Ashline early in the race, went down a lap on Lap 131 while running in eighth place. Hopkins then passed teammate Travis Stearns on Lap 153 and had lapped all the way up to fifth-place Tiger Colby by Lap 161.

Hopkins did have to sweat out a final restart, with Ashline to his outside with 16 laps remaining, but he quickly cleared the pack to put any additional potential drama well behind him.

“(Hopkins) was just cruising around. He was probably adjusting his radio and AC and hanging out in there,” Ashline said. “It is what it is. For being the old car that she is, she still makes them work hard.”

Ashline, who led 97 of the first 100 laps, used his track position to hold off challenges early, but he said the track position he lost to Hopkins following the pit stops had little impact on the final result.

“It came down to car,” Ashline said. “He’s got twice the car that we’ve got. I’ve got all kinds of things I could probably say, but none of it’s worth saying.”

Shane Clark and Colby finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Dave Farrington Jr., T.J. Watson, St. Clair, four-time track champion Nick Hinkley and Ben Rowe completed the top 10.


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