BARRE, Vt. – We're on schedule at Thunder Road International Speedbowl.
A field of 50 Late Models from the northeast and Canada breezed through time trials and three caution-free 25-lap heat races to set the first 24 starting position for Sunday's 49th annual People's United Bank Milk Bowl. The race was rained out last weekend, forcing track officials to cram a two-day show into one full day of racing.
Brian Hoar, the eight-time ACT Late Model Tour champion, led a list of usual suspects at the front of the field during a unique time-trial format that saw 10 five-car groups run 90-second sessions to record their fastest laps. Hoar's lap of 13.049-seconds around the quarter-mile handed him his fifth career Milk Bowl pole.
Dave Pembroke, the 2011 Thunder Road track champion, and Nick Sweet – last year's track champion and winner of the ACT Labor Day Classic 200 here in September – also locked in their starting spots via time trials.
In borrowing from the Daytona 500's unique Gatorade Duels qualifying format, the Top-3 from time trials were guaranteed their starting spots for the Milk Bowl. Through the three 25-lap heat races – won by Hoar, Pembroke and Sweet in dominanting fashion each time – an additional 15 cars qualified. The next six fastest drivers in time trials who did not post a Top-6 finish in their heat races were given Milk Bowl starting spots 19-24.
The Milk Bowl is now back on its original Sunday schedule. A 20-lap Last-Chance Race will grant its Top-3 finishers entry into the Milk Bowl. Three provisionals will also be handed out to the top ACT Late Model Tour, ACT Castrol Series and Thunder Road competitors yet to make the Milk Bowl.
The Milk Bowl is a three-segment race – a 50-lap first segment followed by a pair of 75-lap segments – with the starting lineup inverted for each segment. The lowest overall score (by finishing position totals) is declared the winner.
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