Coming into Sunday’s 53rd Milk Bowl at Thunder Road in Barre, Vermont, Nick Sweet was determined to come out on top of not just the entire field, but his chief rival in 2015, Derrick O’Donnell. After finishing behind O’Donnell in the season championship and placing second behind O’Donnell in time trials on Saturday, Sweet made it clear that the same wouldn’t happen in the main event, and he was true to his word.
After finishing behind O’Donnell in the first two segments, Sweet overcame a five-point deficit in the third and final 50-lap segment to earn himself the right to “kiss the cow” for the second time in his career.
“I just wanted to pass as many cars as I could,” said Sweet of the final segment. “It’s really unbelievable to be standing here right now. We won that last race and that was what I strived to do. I feel like that’s one that tops my career right there.”
Coming from behind with the crowd on their feet during the final laps was one thing for Sweet, but beating his chief rival made the win even sweeter.
“Derek is a great competitor, but that’s one that I needed to do for myself,” Sweet told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “I feel like I’ve accomplished something today and that’s a really, really good feeling. This is going to be one that is going to be hard to top and will always be in my memory. My family was here to watch it and my kids. It doesn’t get any better than this.”
During the first two segments, everything seemed to be going O’Donnell’s way. After winning the pole award Saturday afternoon, O’Donnell dominated the first segment leading every lap but the first. He then charged from the 24th starting spot in the second segment to finish sixth, the best finish among drivers contending for the overall win.
But things nearly went up in smoke in the third after contact with John Donahue sent O’Donnell spinning through the infield while a wreck ensued behind. After the near miss, O’Donnell struggled to pick up additional positions over the final laps before finishing seventh and losing the Milk Bowl by one point.
“I knew going into the third anything could happen, you could have a real big lead and still not be comfortable,” said O’Donnell. “I don’t think we gained enough in the second segment and threw all of our eggs in one basket. We just got held up with the slow cars and it took all of our advantage away and then at that point we were hanging on by a needle there just trying to keep up with him. I think there’s about ten different strategies to win this race and Nick picked the right one.”
While O’Donnell loaded up, Sweet completed the victory celebration with the traditional kissing of the cow. Having experienced his first kiss with “Miss Daisy Dalton” just two years ago, Sweet wasn’t as shy this time around.
“The second time around, she soiled herself a little bit, so you’ve got to make her soil a little bit more here.”
-By Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com Northeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Alan Ward
53rd Annual Milk Bowl Unofficial Results
Thunder Road (VT) – October 11, 2015
|Pos.||No.||Driver||Seg 1||Seg. 2||Seg. 3||Tot. Points|
|3||97nh||Joey Polewarczyk Jr.||8||5||9||22|
|9||27nh||Wayne Helliwell Jr.||5||20||6||31|
|12||23me||Dave Farrington Jr||17||11||14||42|