BARRE, VT - Patrick Laperle of Montreal had a career-defining day at Barre, VT's Thunder Road, winning the 45th Annual Chittenden Bank Milk Bowl stock car event, and stealing the American-Canadian Tour Late Model Championship from rival Scott Payea of Milton, VT.
Laperle took a narrow two-point Milk Bowl win over Eric Williams in the three-segment, cumulatively scored race, and crept past Payea for the championship by just a single point, unofficially, for the season crown.
"(Today) was about the championship," said the emotional Frenchman. "You race all year for a championship. The Milk Bowl was like, how do you say it, the cherry on top of the ice cream."
For Laperle, it was his second consecutive Chittenden Bank Milk Bowl win - his third Milk Bowl win in four years - and his first ACT Late Model Tour championship; he won the Quebec/Ontario-based Serie ACT-Castrol title a year ago. The race victory was worth $10,000, plus bonuses, and a chance to repeat Milk Bowl tradition and kiss the beauty queen - an Ayrshire dairy cow named "Miss Kitty."
Laperle posted finishes of first, eleventh, and eighth in the three 50-lap segments for a total score of 20 points (one point awarded per finishing position, lowest total score wins the Milk Bowl). Hyde Park, VT driver Williams, who was crowned the 2008 Thunder Road Track Champion a month ago, had finishes of ninth, sixth, and seventh for a total score of 22 points to finish as the runner-up. Ryan Nolin of Georgia, VT sandwiched a tough 20th-place middle segment with finishes of third and first to score 24 points and finish third overall.
Dennis Demers of Shelburne, VT finished fourth overall (6+16+6=28 points), with Graniteville, VT driver Chip Grenier taking a career-best ACT Late Model Tour finish in fifth (11+9+9=29 points). John Donahue of Graniteville, VT won the second segment, but slumped in the other two rounds to finish 13th overall.
Payea was the victim of an accordion-like incident during a restart on lap 14 of the third segment, pushing the nose up on his car and forcing him to slow his pace. He entered the final segment as a contender for the overall Milk Bowl win after finishes of seventh and tenth, but managed only a 13th in the final round. His total score of 30 points left him sixth overall in the Chittenden Bank Milk Bowl, earning him 80 ACT championship points to Laperle's 100 championship points. Using ACT's "Pick 10" championship format that counts only the best ten of 12 events for each driver, Laperle's final tally was 914 points to Payea's 913.
Four-time Milk Bowl winner Robbie Crouch of Tampa, FL finished seventh overall (8+13+10=31 points), with Lancaster, NH driver Quinny Welch eighth (13+3+17=33 points). ACT Late Model Tour Rookie of the Year Nick Sweet of Barre, VT finished ninth (19+4+11=34 points), with Williston, VT's Brian Hoar tenth unofficially (5+15+14=34 points). Sweet won the tie-breaker for overall position with Hoar due to his better final-segment finish.
---COURTESY ACT TOUR
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