–by T.J. Ingerson (@TJIngerson)
BARRE — Trampas Demers can pinpoint the three exact moments that may have cost him the 55th Northfield Savings Bank Milk Bowl.
The South Burlington driver finished second overall in a tie with winner Jason Corliss. But, on three separate occasions, Demers lost a position late in each of the three segment that ultimately would cost him the overall win.
“I feel like I gave it up,” Demers said. “It started in the first segment when Nick (Sweet) got by me with two or three to go (for the segment win) and I lost that one spot. And then Jason (Corliss) got me in that second segment, but I was in an accident and the front fenders were all screwed up.
“And then we got in (the final segment) and I thought I had it. Jason’s car in the last ten laps just always came on better than mine did. He did it right. He set himself up on the outside and shot underneath me and we did it again to him. And then he drove away from me. I can’t hold my head down, but I’m extremely disappointed.”
Demers set the second quickest time in time trial qualifying and started in the second position in the first 50-lap segment and quickly ran out to the race lead. A late race restart put Sweet to Demers’ outside and the two would battle nearly side-by-side until the checkered flag flew. Demers would hold the lead until the duo crossed under the white flag when Sweet powered by Demers and claimed the win.
In segment two, Demers steered in front of Corliss and chased Sweet and eventual third place finisher Scott Payea, but a late race caution flag saw Demers sustain front end damage. Another late race restart would see Corliss jump past Demers on the track.
Sweet led the Milk Bowl into the final segment with Payea one point back, Demers three points back, and Corliss four points back. Sweet would encounter a tire problem and finish the segment off the lead lap while Payea would be stuck in traffic and unable to make any gains through most of the third segment. Demers and Corliss broke free and ran nose-to-tail away from their top challengers.
Inside of 15 laps remaining, however, Corliss used a crossover maneuver on Demers to take the position on the track and for the overall race win by virtue of his better finish in the final segment.
“There’s a 1000 things you can do differently,” Demers said. “But, the reality is is that when you tie in the Milk Bowl and the guy had to finish in front of you to win the thing, you came really close to winning it.
“And I don’t know in a career if I’ll ever get that chance again.”
Demers, however, will look to use his runner-up finishes this season in the Milk Bowl and Thunder Road championship as motivation and get a jump on the 2018 season.
“I can tell you that I’m going to come back in full force again next year,” Demers said. “I’m going to run Thunder Road again and I’m going to shoot for the Milk Bowl just like I have been.
“It’s been a phenomenal season for me. I got nothing to really (complain) about or cry about. I’m just disappointed, which everyone would be.”
For Demers, despite the loss, he took solace in knowing that they were a threat to win the Milk Bowl.
“(I’m) extremely disappointed,” Demers said. “(But, I’m) excited, too. Everybody knew we were here the whole weekend.”
PHOTO: Trampas Demers (85) battles with Jason Corliss (66) for the Milk Bowl win on Sunday afternoon at Thunder Road. (Alan Ward photo)