Barre's own Nick Sweet claimed his first career Milk Bowl in the 51st running of the People's United Bank Milk Bowl at Thunder Road on Sunday, October 6. Consistency was the key for Sweet, who drove the St. J Auto Buick to segment finishes of 6th, 8th and 4th to win $10,000 in the season finale at Thunder Road.
Sweet began the final 50-lap segment in 17th, one spot behind 2013 Thunder Road champion Derrick O'Donnell, who entered the final round with lowest point total (11), and eight positions behind three-time Milk Bowl winner Brian Hoar.
One lap into the final segment, O'Donnell's bid came apart when he spun out after contact with Lance Allen and took a blow from Alex Labbe.
On the restart, Hoar sat 9th with Sweet in 17th as a heavy mist came and went threatening to end the race early. Rain would have been a reprieve for O'Donnell, but through four more restarts and some pause for the weather, the race, and Sweet continued on.
Cody Blake led the field throughout the final segment with Patrick Laperle 2nd and Dave Pembroke 3rd. Sweet steadily advanced, passing Hoar on lap 33 and settling into fourth to close out the race.
"This is great," Sweet said. "I've never been so nervous about the weather and restarts. I knew we had a shot. You've got to be aggressive in this race, but I stayed low, which is what I was set up for and I focused on going forward. Thanks to all the fans for coming out on such a rainy day."
Three-time Milk Bowl Champion Brian Hoar finished second overall with 22 points (1-16-5) and Quebec's Alex Labbe finished third overall with 23 points (8-7-8). Patrick Laperle and Joey Polewarczyk Jr completed the top five.
Hoar started on the outside pole of segment one, and quickly took the lead from pole winner Labbe and sped off to a convincing win the 1st segment with O'Donnell 2nd and Laperle 3rd. Hoar spent the middle segment mired in traffic and finished 16th.
Bobby Therrien breezed to the win in the 2nd segment. By leading the 25th lap, he earned a $500 bonus from New Hampshire Motor Speedway as Hoar had done in the 1st segment.
Sweet's victory ensures his name will appear on the granite Milk Bowl monument. He is a two-time Thunder Road champion and a prior winner of the Governor's Cup, Labor Day Classic and Memorial Day Classic.
"This gets the monkey off my back," Sweet said. "I've been trying to win this one for a while."
Jason Allen of Barre won the Bond Auto Tiger Sportsman Mini-Milk Bowl. Allen finished 4th in the first 35-lap segment Saturday and 3rd behind Randy Gonyaw and Mike Martin Sunday. Adam Pierson of Bradford claimed second overall with finishes of 6th and 7th in the two segments. Shawn Fleury earned the 2013 Bond Auto Tiger Sportsman track championship with a 3rd place overall finish after besting his closest rival, Mike Ziter in both segments.
The Allen Lumber Street Stock championship went to Bunker Hodgdon of Wolcott. Jason Kennison of Groveton, NH, Nick Pilotte of Jefferson, NH and Tommy Smith of Williamstown finished 1-2-3 in the Street Stock Mini-Milk Bowl.
The Thunder Road season was capped off fittingly with the Rough Riders running in a torrential downpour. Alan Derrington of Bethlehem, NH claimed the win ahead of Paul Dudley and Barre Mayor Thom Lauzon.
The 2013 Thunder Road season has come to a close.
Courtesy: Thunder Road
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