Thunder Road’s Qualifying Day Pivotal To Milk Bowl Winner’s Circle

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Sports / Sep. 28, 2017 9:14am EDT


Thunder Road’s Milk Bowl Qualifying Day will be one of the most intense days of the racing season as drivers fight for a spot in the 55th Vermont Milk Bowl. (Provided / Buzz Fisher) Thunder Road’s Milk Bowl Qualifying Day will be one of the most intense days of the racing season as drivers fight for a spot in the 55th Vermont Milk Bowl. (Provided / Buzz Fisher) The 55th Vermont Milk Bowl presented by Northfield Savings Bank goes to post at 1:00 p.m. this coming Sunday, Oct. 1 at Barre’s Thunder Road. But the action of the weekend begins Saturday, Sept. 30 at 1:00 p.m. with Booth Bros./H.P. Hood Milk Bowl Qualifying Day as the top Late Model drivers from Thunder Road and throughout the Northeast fight to make their way into the starting field.

The Milk Bowl is known as “The Toughest Short Track Stock Car Race in North America,” not just for its unique three-segment format, but for a qualifying procedure that demands teams are fast early and often. With just 26 starting positions available, the intensity will be high from the moment the first car rolls into the pits.

“You’ve really got to put a lot into Saturday as a team,” Danville’s Tyler Cahoon said. “If you only focus on Sunday and you don’t focus on Saturday, you may not make the show, and you’ve got to get in before you can race the race. That’s part of what can make the Milk Bowl such a high-stress environment. There are so many good teams that show up and can perform well at any moment on Saturday to get qualified. If you don’t perform well or something happens, you may have jeopardized your chance to get in the Milk Bowl.”

Milk Bowl Qualifying Day begins with time trials, making it the only event of the year that most Late Model competitors in the region experience the solo qualifying format. Each driver will run two laps around the Barre high banks with the quicker lap being their official time. The fastest qualifier will receive the $1,000 Booth Bros./H.P. Hood Pole Award with $500 going to the second-fastest driver.

But only the top three starting spots in the Milk Bowl will be locked in after time trials. For the rest of the field, their next chance to make the main event is the “Triple 50s,” as the time trial speeds will be used to set the starting line-ups for three 50-lap qualifying races. In 2016, the entire Milk Bowl roster was separated by just over half a second in time trials, meaning a slight stumble can be the difference between starting third and 13th in a qualifier.

The top five finishers in each Triple 50 will transfer to Milk Bowl starting positions 4-18. Thunder Road officials will then go back to the time trial speeds for positions 19-22, taking the four fastest drivers who are not yet qualified. Everyone else will have one final attempt in the ‘Last Chance BFeature’ that rolls off on Sunday at 12:15 p.m.

The top two finishers in the BFeature will be added to the rear of the Milk Bowl grid with two provisionals available for eligible competitors.

Many of the top Late Model competitors in the region will be at Thunder Road on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. for Milk Bowl Qualifying Day, including three-time Milk Bowl Champions Nick Sweet, Patrick Laperle, and Kevin Lepage; current ACT Late Model Tour point leader Scott Payea; recently crowned Thunder Road Late Model Champion Bobby Therrien; and new Serié ACT Champion Jonathan Bouvrette, all hope to be the winner of the 55th Vermont Milk Bowl.

The weekend will also include two-segment “Mini Milk Bowls” for the Flying Tigers, Street Stocks, and New England Dwarf Cars along with a Saturday-only event for the Road Warriors.

The front gates will open at 10:00 a.m. and the pit gates will open at 8:00 a.m. on both days. An optional practice day for the Late Models, Flying Tigers, and Street Stocks is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 29 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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