Waterbury, VT – The American Racer Three Star program is designed to recognize three non-podium teams in no particular order of performance that had outstanding races at American-Canadian Tour (ACT) U.S. Tour and select ACT-sanctioned events. There are no specific criteria for deciding who might receive the award of a free American Racer tire (value $125.00), but a special effort by a team, exceptional race, just plain old hard luck, or any other accepted reason is used to decide the award recipients.
The Three Stars are chosen by ACT officials and will receive certificates for use of a free American Racer tire at an ACT event.
THUNDER ROAD SPEEDBOWL
53rd NORTHFIELD SAVINGS BANK MILK BOWL
The 53rd Vermont Milk Bowl will be remembered for one of the great comeback wins in event history. 2013 Milk Bowl Champion Nick Sweet of Barre, VT entered the third and final 50-lap segment trailing three-time defending “King of the Road” Derrick O’Donnell of N. Haverhill, NH by five points. Both drivers marched through the field, and when a caution came out on lap 37, Sweet was seventh to O’Donnell’s eleventh. Sweet then put the power down, sailing around the outside and taking the lead on a lap-43 restart. Meanwhile O’Donnell got bottled in traffic and could muster only a seventh-place finish in the segment, giving Sweet the overall win by one point and sending the crowd into delirium.
Behind the two heavyweights the intrigue was just as thick. An eight-car pile-up on the third lap of Segment 2 eliminated or crippled several contenders and opened the door for multiple surprise runs. Meanwhile, the event’s unique three-segment format allowed drivers to overcome poor qualifying efforts or tough individual segments and emerge with a solid result. After considering numerous candidates, the American Racer Three Stars of the 53rd Milk Bowl are:
*Jim Morris, Barre, VT – #13VT – There may be no driver who passed more cars on Milk Bowl weekend than Jim “Boomer” Morris. Boomer returned to Thunder Road after rebuilding his Late Model following a Labor Day crash and was moving up in his Triple 50 qualifier on Saturday before being sent to the rear for an incident with Brandon Atkins – one the Atkins team later took full responsibility for. Rather than sulk over his misfortune, Morris charged back to seventh, positioning himself to eventually win the last chance “B-Feature” on Sunday and start 27th in the Milk Bowl.
After getting a mid-pack result in Segment 1, Morris shined in Segment 2, patiently getting to the front and edging out Mike Bailey for the win. He was moving up again in Segment 3 and seemed destined for an overall top-10. But two late incidents – including one at the white flag – dropped him to 14th in the final tally. Nonetheless, the Greg Lee Motorsports team deserves a Star Award for fighting through adversity and proving they belong on ACT’s biggest stage.
*Mike Bailey, S. Barre, VT – #00VT – Mike “Beetle” Bailey is the definition of a local racer, living less than one mile from Thunder Road. He entered the Milk Bowl coming off his best season in a Thunder Road Late Model, finishing ninth in the final point standings. After a solid time-trial effort, an incident in his Triple 50 qualifier relegated Bailey to the 23rd starting position. The Union Mutual team then struggled in Segment 1 and could not advance.
But the Segment 2 invert gave Bailey’s Milk Bowl effort new life. Bailey led the first 49 laps before getting nipped at the finish line by Boomer Morris. He then climbed to the top half of the field in the third and final segment, giving him a respectable 11th place in the overall. And thanks to the lap money from leading the most laps, the low-dollar team will take home a sizeable paycheck from the event. A Star Award goes to the local driver who always has a smile and a joke ready but holds his own behind the wheel.
*Scott Dragon, Milton, VT – #16VT – Scott Dragon had a stellar season in the Richard Green Trucking Chevrolet, beginning the year with three straight podiums finishes and placing fourth in points. He entered the Milk Bowl with high hopes of joining his father Bobby, uncle Beaver, and cousin Brent as Milk Bowl winners. But when Jason Allen got turned around in front of the field early in the second segment, Dragon was one of the drivers with nowhere to go, and he ended the melee on top of Jimmy Hebert’s hood.
Dragon continued on and was clearly still fast, but kept getting mired in traffic, which was exacerbated by a further back-and-forth with Hebert late in the segment. His subsequent 16th-place finish took him out of serious overall contention. But Dragon persevered, driving to a fourth-place result in Segment 3, which gave him a solid eighth in the final rundown. It wasn’t the result the team was hoping for, but they receive a Star Award for overcoming a tough second segment and making the best they could of their day.
The ACT Late Model Tour closes out their season Saturday, October 17 at Thompson Speedway’s Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing powered by XtraMart. The World Series 100 will crown the 2015 ACT U.S. Champion and will be broadcast live on FansChoice.TV. ACT qualifying is at 2:15pm with features for all divisions beginning at approximately 5:00pm.