–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
BARRE — Jason Corliss used to haul his Street Stock to Thunder Road on a car dolly. On Sunday, he became a Milk Bowl champion.
The hometown driver made up four points in the final segment of the 55th Northfield Savings Bank Milk Bowl to claim his first overall win in the famed event.
“I never thought, when I first started racing, a Milk Bowl. A Milk Bowl. Only the greats win Milk Bowls,” Corliss said. “Man, to win the Milk Bowl.
“I was walking through shaking hands with the Dragons, Johnny Gammel won this race, Patrick Laperle. Nick Sweet, Cris Michuad, Brian Hoar, these guys are fantastic, some of the best short track racers in the country. To be etched in stone with those guys. Man, it’s hard to fathom.”
Corliss entered the final segment on the back end of a four-driver battle between himself, leader Nick Sweet, second place Scott Payea, and third place Trampas Demers. Sweet encountered tire trouble and fell back while Payea got stuck in traffic as Demers and Corliss pulled away.
With 15 laps left, Corliss sat just behind Demers and began to look to his outside. However, as they exited turn four, Corliss would change lanes and drive underneath Demers to take over the fourth position on the track. Demers would do the same to Corliss, but this time, Corliss was able to pull away and claim the overall win in the 55th Milk Bowl.
“The tires were worn out and we’re sliding around,” Corliss said of the battle for the overall win with Demers. “We both didn’t have the perfect race car. But, we had the best cars out there at that point.
“I (could) see (Demers) not able to hook the bottom and stay on the bottom as well as he wanted to. I looked to the outside a couple of times, which made him drive in a little bit harder. He kind of slid up the race track and I had a feeling that he was going to. And thankfully he did and I was able to cut right underneath him and get by him. He was able to kind of do the same to me and got me free.
“Thankfully we were able to race it out and bang doors a couple of times (and) drive away from him to win a Milk Bowl.”
The finish between Corliss and Demers will go down as one of the most thrilling finishes in Milk Bowl history.
“Chris Burnett, my car owner and spotter, did a really good job at telling me ‘this is it, those other guys are caught in the back. You need to pass (Demers) to win the Milk Bowl’,” Corliss said. “At that point, it was so great, no caution. We had space and we were able to race it out.
“There was nothing that got in the way. For us to be able to race it out that hard and have the better car win, it’s special. It’s just so special.”
Corliss used lessons learned from one year ago to know how bad it felt to be so close from winning a Milk Bowl but lose out on it.
“I learned second sucks, quite frankly,” Corliss said. “Being that close to winning a Milk Bowl and losing it and feeling like you should have won it, it burned. It burned bad. I was so disappointed.
“This race is so difficult I never thought I’d have an opportunity to compete for possibly another Milk Bowl win. So to be here one year later and have that opportunity again, and capitalize on that one spot we needed, it just feels so special.”
Corliss began his career in the Thunder Road Street Stocks with nothing and won a championship. He then would move up to Flying Tigers and eventually Late Models after hooking up with car owner Burnett.
“I first started racing Street Stocks hauling in on a tow dolly with literally no money,” Corliss said. “I had enough money to buy my fuel, maybe a tire, and my pit pass. So to work from that point to getting a (Flying) Tiger ride and them teaming up with Chris Burnett and eventually moving up to Late Models.
“What a program we’ve build.”
Demers, of South Burlington, finished second overall after a fifth place finish in the final segment, which tied him with Corliss in the overall standings.
ACT Late Model Tour point leader finished tenth in the final segment to finish third overall with Bobby Therrien fourth overall after he rebounded from a 13th place finish in segment two. Jimmy Hebert completed the top-five in the overall finishing order.
Sweet fell to sixth overall after a 23rd place finish in the final segment while Cody Blake finished seventh. Brooks Clark battled back from a segment two incident and subsequent 21st place finish to finish eighth overall with Stephen Donahue ninth. Polesitter Marcel J. Gravel completed the top-ten finishers after he suffered an incident in the second segment.
VtMotorMag.com will have more from the 55th Northfield Savings Bank Milk Bowl soon.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — 55th Annual Northfield Savings Bank Milk Bowl
Thunder Road Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
Sunday, October 1, 2017
1. (6) Jason Corliss, Barre, Vt. — (4 + 5 + 4 = 13)
2. (2) Trampas Demers, South Burlington, Vt. — (2 + 6 + 5 = 13)
3. (5) Scott Payea, Milton, Vt. — (5 + 1 + 10 = 16)
4. (7) Bobby Therrien, Hinesburg, Vt. — (3 + 13 + 2 = 18)
5. (8) Jimmy Hebert, Williamstown, Vt. — (6 + 10 + 11 = 27)
6. (3) Nick Sweet, Barre, Vt. — (1 + 4 + 23 = 28)
7. (10) Cody Blake, Barre, Vt. — (8 + 16 + 6 = 30)
8. (16) Brooks Clark, Fayston, Vt. — (7 + 21 + 7 = 35)
9. (23) Stephen Donahue, Graniteville, Vt. — (16 + 11 + 9 = 36)
10. (1) Marcel J. Gravel, Wolcott, Vt. — (9 + 26 + 3 = 38)
11. (22) Kyle Pembroke, Montpelier, Vt. — (12 + 15 + 12 = 39)
12. (17) Christopher Pelkey, Graniteville, Vt. — (10 + 22 + 8 = 40)
13. (11) Darrell Morin, Westford, Vt. — (25 + 2 + 14 = 41)
14. (19) Matt White, Northfield, Vt. — (22 + 3 + 16 = 41)
15. (12) Mike Bailey, South Barre, Vt. — (11 + 18 + 13 = 42)
16. (9) Josh Masterson, Bristol, Vt. — (14 + 17 + 16 = 46)
17. (24) Bryan Mason, Stark, N.H. — (20 + 7 + 19 = 46)
18. (4) Scott Dragon, Milton, Vt. — (26 + 20 + 1 = 47)
19. (14) Eric Chase, Milton, Vt. — (15 + 14 + 18 = 47)
20. (15) Jesse Switser, West Burke, Vt. — (19 + 9 + 20 = 48)
21. (13) Ray Christian III, Norwich, Conn. — (13 + 12 + 24 = 49)
22. (26) Alex Labbe, St-Albert, Que. — (17 + 8 + 25 = 50)
23. (25) Tyler Cahoon, St. Johnsbury, Vt. — (18 + 24 + 17 = 59)
24. (21) Evan Hallstrom, Northfield, Vt. — (24 + 19 + 21 = 64)
25. (20) Ricky Roberts, Washington, Vt. — (23 + 25 + 22 = 70)
26. (18) Jonathan Bouvrette, Blainville, Que. — (21 + 23 + 26 = 70)
1 – Jason Corliss plants a kiss on the cow on Sunday afternoon at Thunder Road Speedbowl in celebration of his first win in the famed event. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)
2 – Jason Corliss celebrates his Milk Bowl win with his Chris Burnett-owned, Andrew Hill-led team. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)