By Ken de la Bastide
CNHI News Service
---- — ANDERSON — New Castle driver Fred Hopkins became the latest driver to record a win in the McGunegill Engine Performance Late Models at Anderson Speedway on Saturday.
Hopkins led all 35 laps on AERCO Heating & Cooling night, but he was chased the entire distance by a pack of cars first led by Rob Allman followed by Jeff Marcum, Danny Trent and Ronnie Rose.
The only caution flag waved on Lap 15 when Chris Hacker, Brandon Mefford and Joe Woodring tangled in Turn 3 while batting for position.
On the restart, Hopkins was able to maintain the lead over Allman, who lost positions to Marcum, Trent, Wes Russell Jr. and Ronnie Phipps over the next five laps.
At the finish, it was Hopkins followed by Marcum, who held off fast-qualifier Trent over the final two laps.
“It’s about time,” Hopkins said of his victory. “Once you get out front here, you have to protect the bottom.”
Trent was the driver on the move after starting eighth in the field. He moved into the top five after six laps by passing both Rose and Mefford with inside moves.
Nick Warner made the move of the night on a restart on Lap 4, using the low line to go from eighth to the lead and driving into the Tim Thompson Nationwide Insurance Winner’s Circle.
With Marshall Clark Jr. and point-leader Paul Phipps on the front row for the restart in the Front Wheel Drive Oval Division feature, Warner took off when the green flag waved and had secured the lead when the field entered Turn 1.
After Warner took the lead, Phipps used the outside line entering Turn 1 to grab the second spot, and Elliott McKinney broke into the top five with a pass of Ryan Claborn.
Over the final 10 laps Jerry Dane passed both Claborn and McKinney to finish in the top five.
Following Warner and Phipps to the checkered flag were Clark, Dane and McKinney.
With his second-place finish, Phipps extended his points lead over McKinney for the championship in the division. Entering the night Phipps had a 36-point lead.