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Hopkins Takes Top Honors in Third Annual Motor Mountain Masters

A year after placing second in the Motor Mountain Masters, Mike Hopkins made the long tow from the Bangor, Maine area worth it, winning the third running of the $10,000-to-win Pro Late Model show. (Matt Shinoski photo)

Last August, Mike Hopkins finished second in the second annual Motor Mountain Masters at Jennerstown Speedway Complex. But in finishing second, he felt he had left something on the table.

This August, Hopkins finished the job.

Hopkins, a veteran of the Pro All Stars Series ranks in northern New England, dominated the third running of the 150-lap, $10,000-to-win all-star Pro Late Model event that has quickly become a cornerstone of the schedule at the western Pennsylvania speedplant.

The Motor Mountain Masters was conceived as an open all-star event to bring back the prestige and glory Jennerstown enjoyed when it was a regular stop on regional and national schedules alike, from NASCAR’s Busch North Series and Modified Tour to the late American Speed Association.

The inaugural running of the Masters, won by Barry Awtey, was a largely local phenomenon, but the 2019 edition welcomed a strong contingent of New Englanders, with Vermont double-threat Todd Stone defeating Hopkins, Ray Christian III, and Cory Casagrande to win the big check and the signature red blazer.

Stone, who has refocused on dirt racing for 2020, was not in attendance Saturday, opening the door for a new winner from a 35-car field that included names like New Hampshire upstart Derek Griffith, former NASCAR Truck Series racer Cale Gale, Michigan veteran Brian Campbell and rising short track stars Travis Braden and Carson Hocevar.

Albert Francis set the fast time in qualifying, starting the race from the pole and finishing sixth. (Matt Shinoski photo)

But while Albert Francis stepped through the door throughout the first stage of the three-stage event, Hopkins slammed it shut after that.

While not a prolific winner in his limited PASS schedules, Hopkins has shown speed on some of the series’ largest tracks, winning last year’s Commonwealth Classic at Richmond (Va.) Raceway and finishing second to Eddie MacDonald in June’s New England Short Track Showdown at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. By no means is the Hermon, Me. driver merely a big-track specialist; he closed the 2019 PASS North season with a victory at Seekonk (Mass.) Speedway, helping to clinch the final PASS National Championship honors before the program was shelved this year.

Kentucky’s Josh Brock, an ARCA/CRA Super Series standout, raced his way to second in the three-lap shootout to the checkers, with Hocevar finishing third. Travis Braden rebounded from losing two laps to finish fourth. ARCA Menards Series rookie Griffith, who raced Hopkins for the lead early on, was shuffled back in the final sprint but held on for fifth.

Local racer Zane Ferrell’s #14 passes through technical inspection. Ferrell finished 19th. (Matt Shinoski photo)

Early leader Albert Francis finished sixth, ahead of Connecticut natives Devin O’Connell and Cory Casagrande, who nursed a top-five car to the line with a flat tire. Bryan Shipp was the highest-finishing Pennsylvanian in ninth, with fellow Keystone State native Brandan Marhefka rounding out the top ten.

Amusingly, Hopkins had the longest tow of any driver in the field, hauling from his Hermon, Me. home eight hundred miles northeast of Jennerstown. Eleven different states were represented among the thirty-five competitors, with only fifteen competitors native to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Hopkins, who has run an “outlaw” schedule this year with starts in PASS, CARS Tour and CRA competition, will likely return to his home state to chase glory in the Oxford 250 later this month. Hopkins finished fifth in last year’s running of the $25,000-to-win Super Late Model showdown.

Official Results, Motor Mountain Masters at Jennerstown Speedway Complex:
1. (15H) Mike Hopkins
2. (17) Josh Brock
3. (14H) Carson Hocevar
4. (26) Travis Braden
5. (12G) Derek Griffith
6. (33F) Albert Francis
7. (85) Devin O’Connell
8. (7CT) Cory Casagrande
9. (40) Bryan Shipp
10. (13) Brandan Marhefka
11. (16) Nate Walton
12. (D11) Mike Sweeney
13. (98) Jimmy Tucker
14. (0) Eldon King
15. (22) Evan Shotko
16. (22P) Chad Pendleton
17. (16) Jeremy Shaffer
18. (92W) Scott Wylie
19. (14) Zane Ferrell
20. (53) Lauren Butler
21. (92) Jarred Barclay
22. (95) Garry Wiltrout
23. (96) Todd Price
24. (21) Patrick Waugh
25. (75) Barry Awtey
26. (90) Joe Maruca
27. (44) Cale Gale
28. (33G) Wes Griffith, Jr.
29. (2) Chola Shay
30. (76) Jerick Johnson
31. (72) Mike Hemminger
32. (47) Brian Campbell
33. (3) Teddy Gibala
34. (40G) Glenn Gault
35. (77) Gerry Shepard

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Jeff Brown is a contributor to Short Track Scene. A native of New Hampshire and a long-time fan of New England racing, Brown provides a fan's perspective as he follows New England's regional Late Model touring series.

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