Thousands of fans rolled into Wiscasset Speedway on Sunday for the biggest Late Model race of the year, the Coastal 200. The $10,000 to win race, presented by Coldbrook Trailers and GT Overhead Doors, is one of the marquee events of the race season and always draws some of the biggest names in the Northeast. This year was no different as Eddie MacDonald, Mike Hopkins and 3-time Coastal 200 winner Ben Ashline were among those in the field.
The day also featured a partial Group 2 racing program, which kicked off with a 30-lap feature for the Portland Glass Strictly Streets. Ashton Reynolds took off with the early lead but trouble was brewing behind the leaders on lap 5 as Kurt Hewins went around in turn 4, collecting a handful of others. Reynolds maintained his advantage after multiple cautions halted the racing action but his cousin Josh St. Clair was on the move after starting at the tailend of the field, breaking the top 3 on lap 15. He made his way around Scott Eck for second two laps later and then set his sights on Reynolds, promptly taking over the top spot on lap 22. St. Clair took off from there, scoring the feature victory as Ashton Reynolds and Scott Eck rounded out the top 3.
Ken Turner took off with the early lead in the 20-lap Chestnut Auto Roadrunners feature. Chaos came early as Jeremy Westhaver took a spin on lap 2, collecting Chip Farrington. Ken Turner maintained his advantage on the restart but Chip Farrington was already on the move after his early-race troubles, clearing Casey Bellows for second on lap 6. He made his way to Turner’s door the following lap and Farrington later dove under the racing groove on lap 13, taking over the top spot. Farrington remained consistent, picking up his third straight victory in the division as Noah McGrath and Ken Turner rounded out the podium.
This was followed by a 50-lap feature for the T&L Automotive Modifieds. While Ryan Ripley took off from the pole, Adam Chadbourne took the “back to the front” challenge, dropping to the back of the field in effort to win up to an extra $500 in prize money. Chadbourne made quick work of the field early, breaking the top 5 on lap 8. He made his way around both Scott Trask and Matty Sanborn for third the following lap and then moved on to Nick Reno, finally clearing him for second on lap 25. Faith Cleaves took a spin on the front stretch on lap 28, resulting in a caution. Adam Chadbourne gave Ryan Ripley a run for his money on the restart but Ripley held strong, picking up the feature victory. Chadbourne settled for second but still took home an extra $400 in prize money. Nick Reno followed, rounding out the top 3.
27 drivers then paced the track for the coveted Coastal 200. Ben Ashline powered to the lead right out of the gate and continued to pace the field in the early laps. He began approaching heavy lap traffic on lap 30. Randy Barker took a spin on the backstretch on lap 31, resulting in the first caution of the day.
Ben Ashline pulled ahead on the restart and held strong but trouble was on the horizon as Alex Waltz and Bryan Lancaster collided on lap 56, also collecting “Boss Hogg” Dave St. Clair. Mike Hopkins powered from first to third on the restart but Ben Ashline was still on his tail. Nick Hinkley spun in front of the leaders on lap 105, miraculously avoiding contact with all of his competitors.
Most all leaders pit for tires under yellow, catapulting Eddie MacDonald into the top spot. MacDonald took off on the restart but Chris Thorne was on the move, overtaking Dave Farrington for the runner-up spot on lap 132. He made his way to MacDonald’s door the following lap and the two drivers battled it out for a couple of laps before Thorne completed the pass on lap 136. Meanwhile, Mike Hopkins was climbing back up the leaderboard, breaking the top 3 on lap 142. After a solid showing all day, Eddie MacDonald came to a sudden slow on the front stretch on lap 147, resulting in a caution.
Mike Hopkins reclaimed the lead on the restart as young Jet Decker powered into the runner-up spot. Hopkins held a full straightaway lead with 25 laps to go. Ben Ashline took a spin on the front stretch on lap 176, taking him out of contention for a top five. Mike Hopkins pulled away on the restart and never looked back, picking up his first career Coastal 200 victory and an impressive $11,000 check; $10k for winning and an additional $1k for being the leader at halfway. Hopkins cemented himself in the record books with his win and is now just the second driver in Wiscasset history to win both the Coastal 200 and the Boss Hogg 150.
Jet Decker, Dave Farrington, Chris Thorne and Brett Osmond rounded out the official top five.
The Coastal 200 was surely exhilarating to watch and as track announcer Ken Minott loves to say, they love seeing first time winners in Victory Lane at Wiscasset Speedway. The fun continues as all Group 1 divisions return to the track on Saturday, June 3rd with the visiting Sr. Champ Karts from LST Motorsports Park. The green flag flies at 5:00 pm!
To view the official season schedule, race results, track information and more, please visit http://www.wiscassetspeedway.com.
Wiscasset Speedway is located on West Alna Road in Wiscasset, ME.
-Story by: Amy Worrey - Chasing the Checkered
-Photo credit: Steve Girard/SGirardPhotography