In the only instance of time trials for American-Canadian Tour Late Models in 2015 the advantage in laying down the best lap went to the drivers of Thunder Road’s (VT) weekly Late Model division.  It was two of Thunder Road’s best, Derrick O’Donnell and Nick Sweet, who leaped to the front row with 2015 Thunder Road champion O’Donnell taking the top spot over rival Sweet. Despite the good nature of the rivalry, Sweet made it clear that he was not at all happy with the outcome, but remained positive for Sunday.

 

“I hate losing to that guy,” Sweet told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.  “I hate it. I guess if you’re going to lose, that’s a good guy to lose to.  He’s pretty darn good. But I still hate losing to him. We’re not going to lose to him tomorrow. We went out and we did the first 26 laps that we have to do in that 50 there. It raced really well and it didn’t drop much, so I’m really optimistic.  I’m looking forward to it.”

 

HELLIWELL’S RETURN

After a two-year absence, current ACT points leader Wayne Helliwell, Jr. returns to the Milk Bowl this weekend searching for his first win in the prestigious event.  The decision to race at Thunder Road this weekend was a tough one, as Helliwell and the Bruce Bernhadt-led team was forced to decide between the Milk Bowl and Lee Oktoberfest at Lee USA Speedway (NH).

 

“Normally all our sponsors are local and are all at Oktoberfest, so that’s the big reason. Everybody thinks we’re trying to give it to ACT or Tom Curley, but it has nothing to do with that. It’s about supporting sponsors and sponsors are pretty local. But we missed (The Milk Bowl) two years in a row, so we decided to come back.” Wayne Helliwell Jr. said of his return to the Milk Bowl.

 

But Helliwell’s return to the Milk Bowl has not been an easy one. After breaking down on the highway multiple times en route to Barre the team unloaded and found the car was not responding as it usually would due to the tires. But after sorting out the car in the early part of the day, Helliwell feels he has a car to compete with on Sunday.  He’ll start from the fifth position after winning the second 50-lap qualifier.

 

“NOT SO BAD” BABB

Brad Babb has become a driver known for not being afraid to use the front bumper of the car he is driving to make headway in a race. Sometimes it has landed him in victory lane, while other times it has landed him a not so pleasant result. Babb showed this same aggressive style in the third Triple 50 qualifying race Saturday, which he won after racing hard with Trampas Demers during the opening laps.

 

Babb knows that he’ll have to use that aggressive driving style, especially in the second segment, but also acknowledged that it’s important to keep the nose clean.

 

“It all comes down to what lane you’re in at what time, we’ll see I guess. You have to keep your nose clean at the start of the second segment especially because the whole field is flip flopped. But you have to be aggressive if you want to win the race. Obviously I want to win, but you have to get out of here with the car in one piece for Thompson next week.”

 

Babb will start Sunday’s Milk Bowl from the sixth starting spot.

 

JOEY POLE LOOKS TO VAULT BACK

It has been a rough two week for defending ACT champion and former Milk Bowl winner Joey Polewarczyk Jr, after suffering a major title blow at Airborne Speedway last Saturday.  But with less pressure on winning a championship, “Joey Pole” is more relaxed and hungrier to taste the victory milk Sunday afternoon.

 

The Hudson, New Hampshire driver will have his work cut out for him as he’ll start from the 14th position in the first segment after a subpar qualifying effort and fourth-place finish in the second 50-lap qualifier.

 

“Qualifying, I thought we were going to be better than that because in final practice the car was pretty good,” Pole said.  “For some reason it got really tight in the time trials, that put us where we didn’t want to be. That heat race, the car was pretty good, and it started to feel good towards the end. But it isn’t like a normal race, I don’t need it to be good at the end. I need it to be good right at the green flag. So we’ll change a bunch of stuff and see if we can get it.”

 

Despite these difficulties, with inversions set to take place, Polewarczyk along with every other driver knows that the race can easily come back into their hands.

 

THE FIELD

 

The field so far is filled to 26 cars with the top-three from time trials lining up in the first three positions.  The top-five from each qualifying race make up positions 4-18, while positions 19-26 are filled with the remainder of fast qualifiers.

 

One of the remaining positions will go to the winner of Sunday’s last chance race and the remainder of the field will be set by provisions.

 

Here is how the field looks so far:

1 60VT Derrick O’Donnell
2 88VT Nick Sweet
3 99VT Cody Blake
4 66VT Jason Corliss
5 27NH Wayne Helliwell Jr
6 15NH Brad Babb
7 37VT Brian Hoar
8 58VT Jimmy Hebert
9 85VT Trampas Demers
10 17MA Eddie MacDonald
11 16VT Scott Dragon
12 10VT Josh Demers
13 68VT Brooks Clark
14 97NH Joey Polewarczyk Jr.
15 14VT Phil Scott
16 29VT Jason Allen
17 27VT Kyle Pembroke
18 9VT Chip Grenier
19 48QC Alex Labbe
20 25VT David Whitcomb
21 23ME Dave Farrington Jr
22 18NH Lance Allen
23 00VT Mike Baily
24 42VT Matt White
25 41VT Stephen Donahue
26 38VT Tyler Cahoon

 

-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent

-Photo credit: Alan Ward

Milk Bowl Notebook: Gloves Off for Thunder Road Rivals