While it is rare for a driver to return to a big race one year after winning it with the car exactly the same, Nick Sweet is doing exactly that for this weekend’s 55th Vermont Milk Bowl. The Barre, Vermont native will bring back his 2016 Milk Bowl winning No. 88VT this weekend for the first time since it rolled out of the Thunder Road pits one year ago.
Sweet and his crew have been meticulous in their work and are confident that he will have a shot at winning his third straight Vermont Milk Bowl this weekend. It would also be his fourth overall Milk Bowl win, and his fourth time kissing the Vermont dairy cow in victory lane.
“We’re getting there slowly,” Sweet admitted. “We haven’t taken the 88 out since the Milk Bowl last year. It’s a little different feeling then we’re used to be going in with. It’ll be fine, we’ll just go in that Friday and hopefully figure out what the deal is with the race car, then go from there. Hope to have a pretty fast piece we can go qualifying then race with. We’ll see,” Sweet told Speed51.com powered by JEGS.
Many drivers, including Bobby Therrien, who raced Late Models at Thunder Road weekly in 2017 feel that they may have an advantage with setups compared to part-timers like Sweet because of the new asphalt laid down in May changing from week to week.
“I don’t disagree with that,” Sweet replied. “I’m sure he will have a little bit of an advantage. All we can do is go out and do what we always do, make the car fast, make the car feel good for me. At the end of the day hopefully we’re right there. But first and foremost, our goal has to be to get into the show, then start setting our sights higher. What I’ve been told is that it’s 26 cars including provisionals. Field is a little smaller this year, but it’ll make it much more difficult to get in.”
Most recently, Sweet raced the 200-lap ACT Labor Day Classic at Thunder Road for car owner Eric Chase on September 4, where he feels he was still able to learn a lot. He is also confident that the surface has gotten to enough of a point where it will produce the kind of side-by-side racing the “Nation’s Site of Excitement” is known for.
“It was fine, it takes in a lot of rubber. I don’t think that we’re going to have that until the end of Sunday,” Sweet stated. “But the more rubber the track takes, the more slick it gets. There is still a lot of grip in the asphalt which is good. I think it will put on a really good race for the fans.”
This weekend, the hometown driver goes for his third straight Milk Bowl victory and fourth overall, looking to join Robbie Crouch as the only four-time winners of the prestigious race.
“Going for my fourth, that just tells you how long I’ve been racing,” Sweet said with a laugh. “It’s been really good, very fortunate to be in that situation to go for another win at the Milk Bowl. To win three is definitely an accomplishment.”
While he is always happy to race just up the road from home, it is the unique event format that he enjoys tackling every year.
“It’s got a great format, this is a race that I can honestly say I look forward to every fall, not only because it’s a great payday, but it’s a neat race to be a part of,” Sweet stated. “You race at least four times over one weekend. You got one of those 50-lap qualifying races Saturday, hopefully we won’t be in the consi. Then you’ve got the three 50-lap segments Sunday, there’s a lot of racing done in that one weekend.”
If you can’t make it to Barre, VT this weekend, you can watch both days of racing via a live pay-per-view broadcast right here on Speed51.com. Click here to purchase live video tickets today.
-By: Connor Sullivan, Speed51.com CT, MA, RI & Long Island Editor – Twitter: @Connor51CT
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com