PHOTO: Brian Hoar gets a victory kiss from Miss Daisy Dalton after beating Nick Sweet in the 49th Annual People’s United Bank Milk Bowl (T.J. Ingerson/VMM Photo)

— by T.J. Ingerson

BARRE — The last time Brian Hoar saw Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl victory lane in an ACT Late Model was in the Milk Bowl, during his incredible 1999 season, a season which saw him win the Airborne Raceway, Thunder Road, and American Canadian Tour Championships. Hoar said in the days leading up to the 49th Annual People’s United Bank Milk Bowl that his two previous Milk Bowl victories, in 1998 and 1999, were the biggest victories of his career.

But Hoar was not the favorite entering the Milk Bowl; hometown racer Nick Sweet was. For Hoar to win his third Milk Bowl, he would have to beat Sweet. And Hoar did, head-to-head, in one of the most exciting Milk Bowls in recent history.

Hoar, the winner of the first segment, entered the final segment in third place overall. He trailed Sweet by one point and Milton racer Scott Payea, whose fourth and sixth place finishes put him ahead with ten points, by three.

Hoar and Sweet quickly separated themselves from the other contenders, and worked through the field like a dynamic duo. Hoar would open up a gap and Sweet would quickly reel him back it. It became apparent the Milk Bowl would be settled between Hoar and Sweet.

Hoar took the lead of segment three on lap 62 from Randy Potter, and Sweet quickly followed him through. Three laps later, Sweet brought the home crowd to their feet as he worked to the outside of Hoar, and began making progress. Sweet’s progress would stall, however, and Hoar opened up a gap to claim the segment three victory. Hoar’s two wins, combined with a 12th place finish would put him in a 14-point tie with Sweet, who had two seconds and a tenth place finish. Hoar’s win in segment three gave him the overall victory tiebreaker, something he did not know when the checkered flag flew.

“There is nobody I’d rather beat than Nick Sweet, but there is nobody I’d rather lose to than Nick Sweet,’ said Hoar. “When I took the checkered flag, I thought I lost to him. And I said, ‘At least it’s Nick.’ I like Nick a lot. Of all the drivers I’ve raced against, he reminds me as much of myself as anybody else.”

Both Hoar and Sweet, who raced as teammates for Rick Paya’s RPM Motorsports over the final two months of the American Canadian Tour season, spoke highly of each other after their finishes in the Milk Bowl.

“He knows when to pull the moves,” Hoar said of Sweet. “He gives great feedback on the car and keeps the fenders on the car. The longer races suit him much like it suits me. We have a lot in common. He’s genuine and he’s humble, which is cool. It’s a lot of fun. But I am damn glad. I was not his fan today. He said coming in ‘you know, I might root for you normally, but not today.’ I said ‘I’m normally a fan of yours at Thunder Road, but not today.’ So we shook and said let the best man win. And I have to say, I don’t know if either of us though who won. I thought he won, and he probably did too.”

“Definitely not,” Sweet said when asked if he would want to lose to another driver other than Hoar. “If you’ve never met Brian Hoar, he’s a stand up person. Not only as a race car driver, but also as an individual, and that’s what you strive to be. He’s a great guy. He deserved it today. He drove a flawless race and didn’t make mistakes. We didn’t either, but we just couldn’t quite capitalize. He was just a little bit better than us today, by one spot. I think he’s happy, because he beat a really good car.”

Sweet called his runner up finish bittersweet. Sweet, who missed the Milk Bowl a year ago after his championship season, now has runner-up finishes in the TD Bank 250, ACT Invitational, and Milk Bowl in 2011.

“You called it [bittersweet],” said Sweet. “I can’t say enough about my team, they’re great. I wish I could have gotten them one more spot, but that seems like that has been our year. We’ve been doing a lot of finishing second.”

Payea finished 12th in the final segment and took the final podium spot. Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, of Berlin, who got spun early in segment one, rallied to an overall finish of fourth after finishing 12th, third, and eighth. Seven-time American Canadian Tour Champion Jean-Paul Cyr, of Milton, finished fifth.

Pembroke, who tied with Cyr, was sixth after finishing one spot behind Cyr in segment three. Defending Milk Bowl Champion Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., was seventh. Segment two winner Mike Bailey finished eighth, while Austin Theriault and Craig Bushey completed the unofficial top ten.

The victory in the Milk Bowl capped of an incredible season for Hoar, which he calls the best one of his career. Hoar won the 2011 American Canadian Tour Championship.

“Pinch me. Am I going to wake up here and have it not be real? Unbelievable. Pretty incredible. I predicted last year that we wouldn’t have as good as a year this year. At the banquet I said there is no way I can have a better year than this, and that was last year. And I’ll say it again now. There is no way we can have a better season than this.”

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — 49th Annual People’s United Bank Milk Bowl
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl, Barre, Vt.
Sunday, October 9, 2011


1. (1) Brian Hoar, Williston, Vt. — 14
2. (3) Nick Sweet, Barre, Vt., — 14
3. (8) Scott Payea, Milton, Vt. — 22
4. (7) Phil Scott, Berlin, Vt. — 23
5. (4) Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton, Vt. — 24
6. (2) Dave Pembroke, Montpelier, Vt. — 24
7. (11) Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Hudson, N.H. — 25
8. (23) Mike Bailey, South Barre, Vt. — 33
9. (13) Austin Theriault, Fort Kent, Me. — 36
10. (6) Craig Bushey, Fairfax, Vt. — 40
11. (9) Cody Blake, Barre, Vt. — 41
12. (15) Matt White, Northfield, Vt. — 42
13. (5) Grant Folsom, Waitsfield, Vt. — 42
14. (14) Brent Dragon, Milton, Vt. — 44
15. (18) Ricky Rolfe, Albany Township, Me. — 45
16. (25) Randy Potter, Groveton, N.H. — 49
17. (27) John Donahue, Graniteville, Vt. — 49
18. (10) Glen Luce, Turner, Me. — 51
19. (26) Chip Grenier, Graniteville, Vt. — 51
20. (21) Ben Rowe, Turner, Me. — 52
21. (30) Jamie Aube, North Ferrisburgh, Vt. — 55
22. (19) Jonathan Urlin, London, Ont. — 56
23. (12) Cris Michaud, East Montpelier, Vt. — 56
24. (29) Eric Chase, Milton, Vt. — 60
25. (20) Dave Whitcomb, Essex Junction, Vt. — 68
26. (22) Brooks Clark, Fayston, Vt. — 71
27. (17) Trampas Demers, South Burlington, Vt. — 73
28. (24) Joey Becker, Jeffersonville, Vt. — 77
29. (16) Travis Fadden, North Haverhill, N.H. — 80
30. (28) Quinny Welch, Lancaster, N.H. — 85