Vermont native set to end racing career this weekend at Thunder Road
–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
BARRE — Kevin Lepage’s storied racing career will come to a close this weekend at Thunder Road.
The 20-year veteran of NASCAR and longtime short track racer from Shelburne will compete in what he states will be his final race during the 55th Northfield Savings Bank Milk Bowl.
“One thing I always vowed to myself and vowed to (former Thunder Road track owners) Ken (Squier) and Tom (Curley) when I left Vermont to pursue being a NASCAR driver was to never forget where I came from,” Lepage said. “When I first started looking at retirement five or six years ago, I decided that I might as well retire where it all started.
“A lot of guys down here, they retire at their last race of the year at Homestead (Florida) or something like that, and that’s not where you started.”
Lepage won two NASCAR Xfinity Series races during his time and competed full-time in the now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series from 1998 through 2001. He continued to compete part-time over the next six seasons in the Cup Series. His last NASCAR national series start came in 2014 after over 550 career starts.
The 55-year-old driver, however, had an extended racing career in the northeast, which included 11 American-Canadian Tour Pro Stock race wins and three Milk Bowl victories, before he chased a dream in North Carolina.
“The fans in Vermont and the people in Vermont watched me grow up,” Lepage said. “(They) watched me take the step to become a NASCAR driver, watched my progression all the way up to the Cup Series, and were there when I had the good days and there when I had the bad days.
“For me and my wife to go back home – it’s bittersweet, because I still want to race, but Father Time has spoken, and it’s time to say ‘it’s been a good ride, and let’s close the curtain at Thunder Road.’”
Lepage will pilot the car number 21nc this weekend for David Boyce in the Milk Bowl and will look to make his 14th appearance in the legendary race. He has kissed the cow three times previously and will be one of three drivers this weekend that will look to tie Robbie Crouch’s four Milk Bowl victories.
Multi-time championship winning crew chief Jeff Laquerre will prepare Lepage’s ride this weekend. Laquerre has led Tracie Bellerose, Cris Michaud, and Jean-Paul Cyr to Thunder Road Late Model championships over the past 20 seasons. Lepage will also have backing from longtime sponsors Vermont Teddy Bear, Allen Lumber, Citgo, and State Water Heaters.
“Robbie Crouch put up a big number, and to go back and to retire as a four-time champion at the Milk Bowl and tie the record with Robbie would be extra-special,” Lepage said. “But at the end of the day, it’s about saying thanks to all the fans and to all the sponsors that have jumped on board for this last race.
“It’s really exciting to have everybody do this last ride with me.”
1 – Kevin Lepage will pilot the 21nc David Boyce-owned ride for what is expected to be the final start of his racing career this wekened at Thunder Road. (Kevin Lepage/Twitter photo)
2 – Kevin Lepage won three Milk Bowls during his time at Thunder Road before he moved to North Carolina as a NASCAR national series driver. (Thunder Road file photo)