HICKORY, N.C. – The American-Canadian Tour made its debut at Hickory Motor Speedway on Friday night and Wayne Helliwell Jr. dominated the 125-lap race to earn a trip to victory lane.
Helliwell started the race from the pole after a strong performance in his heat race earlier in the evening, which earned him the No. 1 starting position. He proceeded to control the majority of the event, only briefly coming under fire during an early green-flag run.
His challenger was Mike Hopkins, who had just finished third in the Easter Bunny 150 before jumping in his ACT late model. Hopkins got alongside Helliwell on lap 34 and the duo raced side-by-side for two laps before Helliwell pulled back ahead.
That was the only serious challenge Helliwell would face, though Hopkins got close to mounting another challenge late in the race when Helliwell found himself navigating around a bevy of slower cars.
Hopkins closed to within a car length at that point, but Helliwell masterfully worked his way through the slower traffic to build his gap back to several car lengths during the final 10 laps before taking the checkered flag.
“We were able to save and keep the rear tires on the car,” Helliwell explained. “We did free up a little bit, but ultimately I think the traffic…we caught them in clusters there. That last big cluster we caught, I think I was able to get through much quicker than Mike did. I think that was ultimately the deciding factor.”
Following Helliwell and Hopkins to the finish line were Ben Rowe, Trent Goodrow and Quinten Welch.
The American-Canadian Tour will be back in action on Saturday at Hickory Motor Speedway for the second race of a doubleheader weekend alongside the Pro All Stars Series super late models.
Wayne Helliwell Jr., Mike Hopkins, Ben Rowe, Trent Goodrow, Quinten Welch, Stephen Donahue, Tyler Cahoon, Derek Gluchacki, Bobby Therrien, Tom Carey III, Aaron Fellows, Shawn Swallow, Marcel J. Gravel, Mike Kenison, Randy Cole, Jeff Marshall, Peyton Lanphear, Mike Mitchell, Ryan Bell, Chip Grenier, Jesse Switser, Floyd Bennett Jr., Jamie Swallow Jr., Brooks Clark, Reilly Lanphear, Mike Foster.