–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
BARRE — Speed. Aggression. Luck. Consistent. Steady.
The above are all the definitions of a Milk Bowl champion’s race day.
One year ago, five drivers entered the final segment of the 54th Vermont Milk Bowl separated by just six points.
The Milk Bowl winner Nick Sweet entered the final segment fifth. The runner-up Jason Corliss was second. Bobby Therrien, the driver who entered the final segment as the leader, ended up finishing 12th overall.
Anything can happen in the Milk Bowl.
As Sweet ran to an improbable, come-from-behind victory, Bobby Therrien watched the Milk Bowl fall away as he rolled to a stop in turn three with a mechanical failure.
Jason Corliss also saw a Milk Bowl victory slip away when he chose the wrong lane and slid back as eventual segment three third place finisher Alex Labbe drove by. Corliss finished seventh in segment three — a third place finish would have handed Corliss the Milk Bowl win.
“Perfection is basically what the Milk Bowl boils down to,” Corliss said in a Thunder Road press release. “We ran an almost-perfect Milk Bowl last year.
“Everything went the right way until the very end, and we ended up just a couple spots short of where we needed to be.”
The Milk Bowl can also be summed up in one word: thrilling.
Sweet earned another come-from-behind Milk Bowl victory in 2015 against chief rival Derrick O’Donnell that brought one of the loudest ovations in recent Thunder Road history when Sweet ran under the checkered flag as the winner.
David Avery nearly pulled off a cinderella story in his first Milk Bowl start in 2004, nearly beating then two-time track champion, and now Thunder Road track owner, Cris Michaud. In 2000, Phil Scott and Tracie Bellerose put on a thriller, ending the event tied with Scott earning his second of two Milk Bowl wins by virtue of his better finish in the final segment.
The segment one finish in 2000 between Scott and Bellerose was an instant classic and dubbed by then track announcer Dave Moody was one of the most thrilling finishes in the opening segment of the Milk Bowl in history.
The Milk Bowl is a season of it’s own. From the first green flag on Saturday through the final checkered flag on Sunday, the roller coaster that is the Milk Bowl.
Post time for both the Booth Bros./H.P. Hood qualifying day on Saturday and the 55th Annual Northfield Savings Bank Milk Bowl on Sunday is set for 1:00pm. A last chance qualifier on Sunday will take place at 12:15pm.