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Pro Late Models

Mike Hopkins Survives All to win CARS Hickory

The Maine driver had to fend off all manner of challenges.

Make it back-to-back wins for Mike Hopkins in the CARS Tour Pro Late Model division.

Having won the season opener earlier in the month at Southern National Motorsports Park, Hopkins made a last-minute trek down to Hickory from Maine and doubled down to win a race he never intended to enter.

That’s because Hopkins planned to race close to home, at Oxford Plains Speedway with the Pro All Stars Series before inclement weather postponed the weekend and encouraged the Port City Chassis led team to head back south.

The race was twice decided in dramatic fashion, first with two laps to go when Hopkins and Isabella Robusto came together on the frontstretch and sent the latter into the inside retaining wall, in a crash that knocked over the barrier while sending it into a photographer.

Then, Hopkins needed to fend off Connor Zilisch and Brent Crews over a green-white-checkered, one decided by Hopkins and Crews sliding sideways across the start-finish line and towards Turn 1. Hopkins responded by immediately turning his spin into a celebratory burnout.

“I never got one here before, and I wanted it bad, and I just didn’t want to see that caution,” Hopkins said. “I can’t thank these boys enough, Weeder for coming on and doing tires, PFC brakes, Pro Fab, High Tower and everyone who makes this possible.

“I want to thank these fans and hope it was a good show.”

It was a meaningful win for the car builder too.

“Everyone knows Gary Crooks, owns Port City Racecars, and he’s been down here in North Carolina chasing wins at Hickory for 29 years and I’m proud to have gotten him his first. And this place is so coo, right in the middle of NASCAR country, a lot of history too.”

Zilisch had extra reasons to be disappointed in a third-place result, given that he was leading on Lap 45 when he spun off the nose of Robusto behind him, needing to drive all the way back through the 28-car field just to have a shot at the end.

He was the first one to congratulate Hopkins.

As for Crews, he was just going for it, having sent the leaders three-wide the restart before too.

“That was wild,” Crews said. “Thought I had a shot there. He did a good job of holding me tight. We almost wrecked this thing but it was super exciting. We Had a good short run car, just fell off on a longer run, so things to get better next time for.”

Hopkins now suddenly finds himself leading the standings having gone 2-for-2 in a series he didn’t expect to chase points in.

Could that change now?

“We’re going to take it race by race,” said Hopkins. “We like racing these races. We like everything Dale Jr and Jack (McNelly) are doing here but I get myself in trouble when I start trying to points race so we’ll see.”

CARS Pro Late Model Tour
Hickory Motor Speedway
April 22 2023

  1. 15H Mike Hopkins
  2. 24 Brent Crews
  3. 25 Connor Zilisch
  4. 54 Matt Craig
  5. 26 Dawson Sutton
  6. 81 Katie Hettinger
  7. 15B Luke Baldwin
  8. 9 Ashton Higgins
  9. 5B Gavan Boschele
  10. 7 Tristan McKee
  11. 96 Caden Kvapil
  12. 27 Lee Tissot
  13. 15 Brett Suggs
  14. 43H Joshua Horniman
  15. 49M Luke Morey -1
  16. 8 Rusty Skewes -1
  17. 24D Jadyn Daniels -1
  18. 97 Dylan Garner -1
  19. 28 Isabella Robusto – OUT
  20. 13 Austin MacDonald – OUT
  21. 43 Nick Loden – OUT
  22. 44L Michael Lichtfeld – OUT
  23. 44 Justin Whitaker – OUT
  24. 48 Jeff Batten – OUT
  25. 6 George Phillips – OUT
  26. 03 Kyle Campbell – OUT
  27. 2 Hudson Canipe – OUT
  28. 77 Logan Jones – OUT
  29. 5 Zac Fowler – OUT

Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He also has extensive experience covering NASCAR, IndyCar and Dirt Sprint Cars.

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