A pair of drivers who grew up racing go-karts together will lead the field to the green flag for the 56th Vermont Milk Bowl Sunday afternoon at Thunder Road International Speedbowl. Vermont drivers Jimmy Hebert and Bobby Therrien bested a field of 36 American-Canadian Tour Late Models to qualify first and second, respectively.
Hebert, who already has two wins this season on the American-Canadian Tour, posted a fast lap of 12.305 to claim the Booth Bros/H.P. Hood Pole Award.
"I knew we had a great car, but it didn't feel the greatest. First [lap] I was tight, but I knew I was running good. Second [lap] I got loose in one and two, but I just kept my foot in it knowing I had to go for it. Just kind of rode it out, three and four was awesome, but I didn't think it was that good. Guys read me off the time on radio and I couldn't believe it. "It's really good," Hebert told Speed51.com.
The pole position was a huge weight off of Hebert's shoulders, not having to worry about the hassle of the 50-lap qualifying races.
"It makes a big difference, to run only 25 laps and not race the crap out of the tires. You get to halfway and get to start on the pole tomorrow. Good position, plus good tires makes a big difference in this race.
"By far the best car we've had here, we've had some good runs, a fourth and a fifth is our best two. We've never been really able to contend for the pole. But we're in a good place and it should be a good race tomorrow."
Therrien, who has only competed in a handful of ACT-type Late Model events in 2018, qualified second with a fast lap of 13.323. Despite missing out on the pole, it was a welcome sight after Therrien slipped back in morning practice after a solid day on Friday.
"It caught us by surprise to be honest," Therrien said. "We did lose a little bit of time during practice today, and we threw a couple of changes at it for the time trials. We figured we'd give it our best shot. To pull off the time we did, that's the fastest we've been all weekend. It's a good surprise to have."
Therrien was equally relieved to not have to concern himself with racing hard in the qualifier and have a bit of a leg up on the field.
"The qualifier today, that's a huge stress reliever. It's always nerve-racking to have that many cars in the pits in this kind of race. Even if you have a good car something can happen quickly, especially here. So to have that weight lifted off and lets us focus on just having a clean run today and then go after the points in the first segment tomorrow, then see how it all plays out after that."
2018 Memorial Day Classic winner Cody Blake, current ACT points leader Scott Payea and Quebec invader Steve Cote completed the top five in qualifying.
Following time trials, Late Models competed in a pair of 50-lap qualifying races to set positions three through 18 for Sunday's race. Defending Milk Bowl winner Jason Corliss and current American-Canadian Tour points leader Scott Payea nailed down victories to earn themselves second row starting spots.
Positions 19-22 were also set for Sunday's race by the fastest remaining times in time trials. The final three spots will be set Sunday at 12:15 p.m. ET during the B-Feature. Race fans can find the full lineup and more information in Speed51.com's Race Day Now coverage.
Race fans can watch all of Sunday's action via a pay-per-view broadcast on Speed51.com. Live video tickets can be purchased today by clicking here.
-Story by Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor - Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com / Melissa Strahley