BARRE, Vt. – Two-time Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl champion Dave Pembroke persisted through a wild 50th Milk Bowl to kiss the cow on a payday worth more than $10,000 for the second time in his career.
Eight-time ACT champion Brian Hoar came up just short through a day of major adversity to finish second, and Maine’s Glen Luce earned third overall. 2012 ACT Champion Wayne Helliwell, Jr. battled to fourth, and seven-time ACT Champion Jean Paul Cyr rounded out the top five.
The day began with second place starter Brian Hoar blowing an engine in practice, with a new engine arriving from his Georgia, Vt., shop 45 minutes before the drop of the green.
The RPM team changed the motor, and sent Hoar out just as the field fired for the pace laps to make the start. Hoar and Pembroke battled side-by-side for the first 10 laps, before Hoar soared to the lead and began to slice through lap traffic.
Just as Hoar began lapping the middle of the field, a nasty wreck involving ACT Champion Helliwell and others, developed directly in front of Hoar, but he slipped through the carnage to retain the lead. Hoar cruised to the segment win with Pembroke, 2012 King of the Road Nick Sweet, and multi-time Thunder Road champion Cris Michaud on his heels.
Cyr took the early lead in Segment 2 until a brutal lap 4 pileup that involved Sweet, Michaud, Cody Blake and other top contenders. Ten laps later Sweet pulled into the pits, while Pembroke picked off the field one by one. Hoar, already with a bent hood from the pileup, tried to clamor through the grid to catch Pembroke, but fell deep in the field after taking a spin through the infield himself.
The top contenders continued to drop like flies, while Pembroke methodically moved to the front. Cyr powered through for the victory, while Pembroke earned 7th, building an 8-point advantage over Hoar, Scott Payea, and multi-time Thunder Road Champion Phil Scott.
The third segment was time for Milk Bowl heroics as Hoar worked his way to the front in the early going leaving Pembroke behind. As young Cody Blake surged to the lead, Pembroke struggled in the back of the field. By the halfway point, Hoar had already reached third place while Pembroke had finally clawed his way to tenth.
The gloves came off with 25 to go as Hoar fought for 2nd and Pembroke stole ninth. As it stood, Hoar would win the Milk Bowl by one point, but a late race caution set up the pair for a fight to the finish. A brilliant restart by Hoar sent him to the lead around Blake, but it was all for naught when a caution came out again moments later. Suddenly, the #99 of Blake shocked the crowd and pulled out and headed down pit road with a flat tire.
Blake’s pit stop brought Pembroke one spot closer to Hoar, and into a tie for the overall win.
On the following restart, Pembroke held on to seventh, while Hoar battled Glen Luce for the win. Finally, Hoar’s car had had enough and faded to second, giving Pembroke the narrow victory. Pembroke was beside himself in victory lane.
“I just took your advice not to screw up, Ken.” He said in victory lane to announcer Ken Squier. “It’s been ten years since we won one of these. I can’t believe it.”
Brent Dragon, ACT Rookie of the Year Jimmy Hebert, Michaud, Sweet, and Scott rounded out the top 10.
Travis Stearns picked up a hard-fought victory in the Reserve Milk Bowl, finishing second in the first segment after a race-long brawl with Joey Laquerre, and backing it up with another second place finish in Segment 2. Fellow Maine competitor Dave Farrington, Jr., and young Joey M. Laquerre took podium finishes in the inaugural event, and Dave Whitcomb and Joey Laquerre rounded out the top five.
Bobby Therrien claimed the overall win, and his first Bond Auto Tiger Sportsmen Championship, going three-wide on multiple occasions to pick up 2nd after his segment 1 win. Eric Badore and Tucker Williams finished second and third, while Brendan Moodie, Jr. and Jason Allen rounded out the top five.
“That was probably the first, and the last, time I’ll be able to stick it three wide like that,” said an emotional Therrien in Victory Lane. “I don’t know what to say, this is incredible.”
Nick Pilotte claimed his first Thunder Road Street Stock Championship, finishing second to Bunker Hodgdon in the Mini Milk Bowl. Ben Belanger took home third.
“Fifteen years ago I finished second in the Milk Bowl,” said an ecstatic Hodgdon. “I told my Dad someday I’m going to win this thing, and we did.”
Pilotte was relieved to have won the championship after a runner-up finish in 2011.
“This championship really isn’t mine, it’s theirs,” he said pointing to his crew. “I can’t thank them enough.”