BARRE — Two drivers in search of their first Milk Bowl win are favored to do so by media members assembled by for the annual Milk Bowl Media Prediction poll.

Cody Blake and Jason Corliss each received three votes from the panel of 11 media members when asked who will win the 55th Annual Northfield Savings Bank Milk Bowl.

The two hometown drivers have rose to prominence this season at Thunder Road — Blake ended a long winless streak and became one of the quickest cars weekly in the second half of the season while Corliss drove to three race wins, which led the division, and a third place finish in the Thunder Road Late Model championship.

Three-time Milk Bowl champion Nick Sweet received two votes. The hometown favorite has sat dormant for much of the 2017 season and has only competed at Thunder Road twice this season, behind the wheel of the No. 40 car on the ACT Late Model Tour. Sweet will dust off his No. 88 car that has taken him to back-to-back Milk Bowl wins in search of his record tying fourth.

Three other drivers — Kevin Lepage, Scott Payea, and Phil Scott — each received one vote. Lepage will end his long racing career this weekend while Payea has won both ACT Late Model Tour races at the track this year. Scott, the Governor of Vermont, will seek his third win in the storied race.

Absent from everyone’s poll is Thunder Road Late Model champion Bobby Therrien, a surprise that may come as a shock to many. The Hinesburg driver led the Milk Bowl into the final segment one year ago, but saw his bid to kiss the cow end when he suffered a mechanical failure.

Qualifying for the 55th Milk Bowl on Booth Bros./H.P. Hood Day will being at 1:00pm. The opening ceremonies will take place at 1:00pm on Sunday for the Milk Bowl.

PHOTO: Jason Corliss (66) and Cody Blake (99) have been named the favorites by the assembled media members to claim their first win in the 55th Annual Northfield Savings Bank Milk Bowl. (Alan Ward photo)

mbpcoveyTerrill Covey
Portsmouth (N.H.) Press Herald
Pick: Jason Corliss
My head (and eyes) tell me that the logical choices here are Bobby Therrien or Scott Payea, however, I feel like this is Jason Corliss’ year. Corliss is a top five point man in the ACT points, and has more wins at Thunder Road than any other driver this season. I think he pulls off the upset on Sunday.

mbpdillnerBob Dillner
Pick: Kevin Lepage
Man the Milk Bowl is still on my bucket list. Fortunately, I’ll be able to watch it on the PPV and also keep track of it with I think I’m gonna go with an ol’ buddy of mine, Kevin Lepage. I’m a sucker for good stories and it certainly would be a Cinderella story if the veteran was able to score his fourth win in the race, then retire and walk off into the sunset.

mbpfisherBuzz Fisher
Pick: Cody Blake
My pick to kiss the cow this year is Barre’s own, Cody Blake. He hit his stride late in the season, landing on the podium race after race. Blake has a great young team and a hell of a lot of experience for a guy his age. And besides, when your Dad is “Burger” Blake, you just have to like cows, right?

mbpherzigTom Herzig
Manchester (N.H.) Union Leader
Pick: Cody Blake
I think the winner is going to be a Thunder Road regular who’s turned a lot of laps on the “new” pavement. A few days ago, I found a folder with some old-time photos in it. One was a picture of Dick Blake and his wrecker crew from the 60’s – the stands were wooden. Another was of Art Cody standing next to Coca-Cola #33 coupe that used to race at Claremont and is now in the New England Motorsports Hall of Fame in Loudon. I’m taking that as a sign from above. Two keys to a win for the #99 – qualify well and overachieve in the second segment.

mbpingersonT.J. Ingerson
Pick: Jason Corliss
Three positions separated Jason Corliss from a date with the Vermont beauty one year ago and he appears to have used that for motivation as he rode to division-leading three Late Model win this season at Thunder Road and a third place championship finish. Corliss has also taken his talents on the road and sits third in the ACT Late Model Tour. The hometown driver has shown he knows what it takes to win the Milk Bowl and I don’t think he will miss out on it again.

mbpmurtoCraig Murto
Late Model Racer
Pick: Phil Scott
If Phil Scott is entered, I’ll take Phil; never count out the governor!

mbppartonCarl Parton
Pick: Jason Corliss
Jason is one of the young rising stars at Thunder Road. Although there are a lot of great drivers coming to the 2017 Milk Bowl, I think Corliss can pull it off. He has had a lot of seat time this year. He has raced the full season at Thunder Road so he knows how the new pavement has evolved over the summer. He has a great track record over the last couple of years in long races and in the races that matter most. The most important reason is that he is a smart driver. Strategy and decision making are almost as important in the Milk Bowl as skill and equipment. Corliss has a good car, good skill, a good team and a good head on his shoulders. Corliss for his first Milk Bowl win in 2017!

mbppaulBrandon Paul
Pick: Nick Sweet
Nick Sweet – I’ve picked him the last two years and he hasn’t let me down, so until he does I’m going to ride the hot hand. Sweet’s track record at Thunder Road obviously speaks for itself and it seems like he elevates his game for this race every year. I once again expect him to be in contention entering the final segment and I once again expect him to kiss the cow.

mbpstlouisJustin St. Louis
Barre-Montpelier (Vt.) Times Argus; Rutland (Vt.) Herald; WDEV Radio
Pick: Cody Blake
He was outstanding in the second half of the regular season at Thunder Road, with a win, three seconds, and a fifth in five consecutive races – most of which, like the segments of the Milk Bowl, were 50 laps. I think the hometown kid can get it done.

mbmp_sullivan_100Connor Sullivan
Pick: Scott Payea
Payea has been largely unmatched this season on the ACT, including in competition at Thunder Road where he swept both ACT points races. What struck me most is that both wins came after early race accidents which caused some damage to the No. 37VT and sent him to the rear of the field. Each time he showed great speed and the ability to pass high and low. He has the speed, toughness and experience to finally add his name to the list of Milk Bowl winners this weekend.

mbpwardAlan Ward
Big Al’s Photos
Pick: Nick Sweet
How can you go against him? Winner of the last 3 out 4 (including the last 2 in a row). I know he has not run full time this year BUT he has been there weekly and has seen how the new pavement reacts. Every time that he has competed this year he has been a threat to win.