BARRE, Vt. – Jason Corliss made out like a bandit at Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl on Sunday to win the 56th Vermont Milk Bowl presented by Northfield Savings Bank.
The hometown racer dove underneath Bobby Therrien entering the final corner of the final lap, edging him out at the line to steal the victory.
With the laps winding down in the third and final 50-lap segment, Therrien sat in fifth on the track with Corliss right behind him in sixth. The two entered the segment tied for the overall lead, and after closest challenger Cody Blake was eliminated in a frontstretch crash on lap 30 that also collected Trampas Demers, it would come down to which driver – Corliss or Therrien – finished better in the segment.
As the duo began the final lap, second-place segment runner Jimmy Hebert suddenly shut down in turn two. While driving around the outside of the slowing Hebert entering turn three, Therrien drifted up the track slightly. Corliss saw an opening and dove to the bottom, putting the nose in front of Therrien as they came charging out of turn four to the checkered flag. The move gave him the better segment finish (fourth) and the overall win along with it.
The pair of racers were never far apart throughout the day. Corliss won the first 50-lap segment comfortably with Therrien in second. After the finish was inverted to start segment two, the two came charging through the pack. Meanwhile, Hebert and Colchester’s Scott Payea, who finished third and fourth in segment one, were involved in a hard lap-six crash that saw Nick Sweet go for a long ride along the frontstretch catch fence.
On the final restart of the segment on lap 43, the two followed Patrick Laperle up the outside, eventually finding themselves second and third behind Laperle. Despite Corliss’s best efforts, the trio would cross the line in that order, giving Corliss and Therrien four points each entering the third and final segment. Blake was the closest challenger with 15, meaning the outcome was likely to come down to the pair even before Blake’s encounter with the wall.
The two struggled to move through traffic early in the caution-filled third segment. But even as they slowly picked their way past cars and carnage, they continued to dice for the victory. The overall top spot changed hands multiple times, as first one driver, then the other would get caught in the wrong lane.
When the two finally broke out of the pack following the eighth and final segment caution on lap 38, Therrien was several car lengths in front of Corliss after getting around him six laps earlier. Corliss ran down Therrien down on the track with a few laps remaining, and when the golden opportunity was presented on the final lap, Corliss took full advantage.
In doing so, Corliss became just the sixth driver to go back-to-back in the Milk Bowl. His total of eight points (first, third, fourth) was also the first single-digit winning score in the event since 1998. Therrien’s nine points (second, second, fifth) gave him a heartbreaking second place overall.
Blake’s misfortune helped open the door for Brook Clark to complete the podium. The veteran finished third overall with 25 points (sixth, 12th, seventh). Stephen Donahue (eighth, 15th, 3rd) was right behind Clark in fourth overall. Scott Payea won the final segment to give him fifth overall. Joey Polewarczyk Jr., Demers, Laperle, Josh Masterson and Kyle Pembroke completed the top-10.
The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers, Allen Lumber Street Stocks, and New England Dwarf Cars also were on the card with segment two of their Mini Milk Bowls. Reigning Flying Tiger Champion Joel Hodgdon showed his winning hand again by backing up his segment one victory on Saturday with a segment triumph, giving him the overall for his fourth win of the season.
Hardwick’s Will Hennequin was the winner in the Street Stock Mini Milk Bowl for the second straight year. Hennequin finished third on Saturday, then steadily came through the pack on Sunday. When overall leader Dean Switser tangled with Juan Marshall on lap 23 of the 25-lap second segment, Hennequin became part of a pack of several drivers – including segment one winner Kasey Beattie, former champion Nick Pilotte, and rookie Bryan P. Wall – running neck-and-neck for the win.
In the two-lap shootout to the checkers, Hennequin was able to scoot underneath Pilotte in the final turn, crossing the line fourth as J.T. Blanchard took the segment win. With Beattie finishing sixth in the segment, the two were tied at seven points each, and Hennequin was awarded the victory based on his better finish in the final segment.
Andy Hill pulled a clean sweep of the weekend in the Dwarf Cars. After winning the pole and the first segment on Saturday, Hill dodged disaster early in segment when five cars were collected in a pile-up as the field came to complete lap 1.
When the event resumed, Hill sliced through the remaining pack, grabbing the lead from Stephane Caron on lap nine. Jason Wyman, the runner-up in segment one, was right behind and through everything he had at Hill, knowing the better finisher in the segment would be the overall winner. He was unable to find a way around as Hill took the win.