JACKSTANDS: The Big One Is Here
Posted By Tj Ingerson On September 27, 2012
PHOTO: Thirty drivers will attempt to add their name to this trophy on Sunday during the 50th running of the People's United Bank Milk Bowl. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)
--by T.J. Ingerson
Since the checkered flag flew on the 49th Milk Bowl, everyone has been waiting for the most special one to this point -- the 50th Milk Bowl.
Well, wait no more. It’s here.
We’ve heard of the hype this race has carried for an entire year. Every bit of news has made the race that much more appealing -- the Reserve Mini Milk Bowl for non-qualifiers, the $100,000 plus purse, and the $50,000 bonus for a three segment sweep.
Kissing the cow is always a big deal. And yes, the chances of someone taking the $50,000 bonus are slim. But the fact that this is the 50th Milk Bowl makes it a bigger attraction than it already is. This race has been around twice as long as I’ve been alive.
The fact is the person who wins the 50th Milk Bowl will join an elite list of drivers that have been able to kiss the cow previously. And maybe one of the potential ten previous winners entered in this year’s Milk Bowl will be able to add their name again. Two drivers, Brian Hoar and Patrick Laperle, have the chance to match Robbie Crouch at the top of the win list.
It’s a special race. It always has been and always will be. I know there is a strong argument, and maybe rightfully so, about the “regionality” of the Milk Bowl. But one thing is for sure -- it is firmly planted into Vermont’s history, and drivers from all over New England and eastern Canada will assemble to try to claim the 50th Milk Bowl.
There are very few races that can match the sustainability that the Milk Bowl has achieved. It is my firm belief that the winner of this Milk Bowl will be one of the ones that is always remembered.
Hanaford, Ingerson, Demar, Gammell, Fadden, Bridges, Dragon, Cabana, Dennis, Dion, Barcomb, Lindley, LeClair, McCabe, Crouch, LaJoie, Lepage, Beede, MacDonald, Whitlock, Cyr, Scott, Hoar, Lanphear, Pembroke, Williams, Michaud, Laperle, Donahue, and Polewarczyk are the last names that grace the Milk Bowl can. Will there be a 34th name added to the can? Or will it be a repeat winner?
The prestige of winning a Milk Bowl will follow a driver for the rest of their career. That is for certain. Many racing fans in the Northeast who have been to the Milk Bowl have a favorite one and can name nearly every Milk Bowl champion. It is that special.
And I know one thing -- I can’t wait.
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Short Track Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway should be considered nothing but a great success. The American-Canadian Tour Bond Auto ACT Invitational, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East G-Oil 100, and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour F.W. Webb 100 had some great racing throughout the field for nearly the entire durations of their races.
The big surprised is Ray Parent. To me, Parent was on a list of about 20 drivers who could have pulled off a win if everything went their way. But the Tiverton, R.I., didn’t need everything to go his way. He made it his way.
He clearly had the best car, and later admitted that this race was the one their team wanted. And they got it.
The Mod race lived up to its expectations -- constant battle for the lead and late race drama with Donny Lia and Teddy Christopher. The finish in the East series race was dramatic too, with everyone wondering if Corey LaJoie had enough to get back around winner Kyle Larson. And he almost did have enough.
I hope Short Track Saturday returns next year. Short track fans put forth an impressive crowd -- and I’ll be honest, I did worry what the crowd would look like. But the fans that ultimately care about the future of short track racing made sure that their future is well.