–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
BARRE — Marcel J. Gravel set a new track record on Saturday afternoon at Thunder Road Speedbowl and claimed the pole position for the 55th Annual Northfield Savings Bank Milk Bowl.
The Wolcott driver turned a lap of 12.236 seconds on his first of two time trial laps to earn the pole position.
“I can’t believe it at all,” Gravel said. “I was sitting in the infield looking at the scoreboard and it said ‘86, 2, 3, 6.’ That’s just unreal.
“I had run my fastest lap that I have ever run here earlier today and I thought that was fantastic. It’s so surreal right now that it’s hard to even believe that it is really happening.”
Gravel’s time broke the overall track record set of 12.245 by Sylvain Metivier in 1995; it shattered the existing Late Model track record of 12.935 set by Joey Polewarczyk Jr. in 2006.
“That is a really good day in Vermont,” Gravel said. “I hope to go on one of those (monuments) back there. They never take your name off those.
“The track record — I hope I hold that for a long time. If someone tops it, I want to be here to see it. I felt like I couldn’t have gone any faster. It’s a very special day for me and my guys.”
Gravel beat out teams that have more than twice the budget of his family owned team and those that have a full-time crew member.
“My dad has been working tirelessly on this racecar,” Gravel said. “It’s just my dad and Drew. When you look down (in the pits) and some of those guys have eight or nine guys.
“It’s just unreal what we have been able to do this weekend and really all year long.”
Gravel made a bold prediction following his Milk Bowl pole position.
“I think I’m going to kiss the cow at the end of the day,” Gravel said. “That’s the goal, isn’t it?
“It’s a tough race. I’ve seen guys qualify on the pole and they don’t even contend for the win. It’s hard to come up through (the field). But that’s why I race here. The best guys are here and I want to beat the best guys.”
Second place Thunder Road Late Model point finisher Trampas Demers qualified second for Sunday’s Milk Bowl with a lap of 12.267.
Nick Sweet of Barre won the first 50-lap Milk Bowl qualifying race and will start third in Sunday’s Milk Bowl.
Sweet took the lead from Bobby Therrien following a lap 43 restart and held on three ensuing restarts.
Scott Dragon came out on top of a side-by-side battle with Jimmy Hebert to claim the win in the second 50-lap Milk Bowl qualifier.
Dragon first took the lead on lap 22 from Cody Blake and held onto it until lap 37, when Hebert claimed the top spot. The duo would race side-by-side until Dragon reclaimed the lead and went on to the win.
ACT Late Model Tour point leader Scott Payea will start fifth while three-time Late Model winner this season at Thunder Road Jason Corliss will start sixth. Newly crowned Thunder Road champion Therrien will start seventh with Hebert eighth. Josh Masterson and Cody Blake will round out the top-ten starters.
The last chance qualifier will take place at 12:15pm tomorrow with some big names involved: three-time Milk Bowl champ Patrick Laperle, two-time Milk Bowl winner Phil Scott, three-time Milk Bowl winner Kevin Lepage, former Thunder Road champion Jamie Fisher, Thunder Road feature winner Tyler Cahoon, newly crowned NASCAR Pitny Series champion Alex Labbe, and White Mountain Motorsports Park race winners Oren Remick and Stephen Donahue.
Opening Ceremonies for the 55th Milk Bowl will begin at 1:00pm.
STARTING LINEUP — 55th Annual Northfield Savings Bank Milk Bowl
Thunder Road Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
Sunday, October 1, 2017
1. Marcel J. Gravel, Wolcott
2. Trampas Demers, South Burlington
3. Nick Sweet, Barre
4. Scott Dragon, Milton
5. Scott Payea, Milton
6. Jason Corliss, Barre
7. Bobby Therrien, Hinesburg
8. Jimmy Hebert, Williamstown
9. Josh Masterson, Bristol
10. Cody Blake, Barre
11. Darrell Morin, Westford
12. Mike Bailey, South Barre
13. Ray Christian III, Norwich, Conn.
14. Eric Chase, Milton
15. Jesse Switser, Lyndonville
16. Brooks Clark, Fayston
17. Christopher Pelkey, Barre
18. Jonathan Bouvrette, Blainville
19. Matt White, Northfield
20. Ricky Roberts, Washington
21. Evan Hallstrom, Northfield
22. Kyle Pembroke, Montpelier
23. Last Chance Qualifier – 1st
24. Last Chance Qualifier – 2nd
25. Thunder Road 80% Provisional
26. ACT/Serie ACT 100% Provisional
PHOTO: Marcel J. Gravel (center) broke Thunder Road’s track record on Saturday to claim the pole position for Sunday’s 55th Northfield Savings Bank Milk Bowl. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)