BARRE, Vt. – Ryan Kuhn scored an early blow for the invaders by winning the pole for the 58th Vermont Milk Bowl presented by Northfield Savings Bank at Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl on Saturday.
The 19-year-old tore around the high banks with a time of 12.423 seconds during time trials and will lead the field to the segment one green flag on Sunday.
Kuhn, the reigning American-Canadian Tour Rookie of the Year, edged fellow young hotshoe and Tour regular Stephen Donahue by .005 seconds. The duo put themselves in early position as contenders for the overall win with their Saturday efforts.
Bobby Therrien and Jason Corliss, the winners of the last three Milk Bowls, showed in the 50-lap qualifying races they’ll be factors once again. Therrien grabbed the lead of the first Twin 50 on lap two and won going away to lock himself into the third starting position on Sunday.
The race behind Therrien turned into a thriller following the third and final caution flag with 15 laps to go. Twelve cars duked it out for the last seven transfer spots with nobody giving the break. Dillon Moltz, this year’s Midsummer 250 winner, emerged from the fracas to finish second and will start fifth on Sunday.
Marcel J. Gravel took third in a Darrell Waltrip Western Auto throwback paint scheme. Brendan Moodie, Matthew Smith, Christopher Pelkey, and Brooks Clark came in fourth through seventh. Despite a right rear tire going down in the final laps, Milton’s Scott Dragon held off Joel Hodgdon for the final transfer spot.
Corliss, meanwhile, roared through the field to capture the second Twin 50. The two-time reigning King of the Road started fifth and ran down Trampas Demers from a long way back to take the lead on lap 35. Corliss sailed away from there to transfer into the Milk Bowl with the fourth starting position.
Demers took second in a caution-free race to earn the sixth starting spot in segment one. Matt White withstood some serious pressure from Tyler Cahoon to finish third. Kyle Pembroke and three-time track champion Derrick O’Donnell were fifth and sixth. Cody Blake and Ben Rowe both got underneath Alby Ovitt in the final laps to snag the final two qualifying spots.
Jim Morris, Eric Chase, Hodgdon and Ovitt were able to fall back on their time trials speeds for starting positions 19-22. The remaining four spots will be filled in Sunday’s Last Chance Race.
The Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel Flying Tigers and Allen Lumber Street Stocks both had time trials and segment one of their Mini Milk Bowls. Sam Caron sped to victory in the first 40-lap segment for the Flying Tigers. Caron started on the outside pole and got the jump right away over pole winner Jason Woodard.
After surrendering the lead briefly to Derrick Calkins for several circuits following a lap-10 caution for Colin Cornell’s spin, Caron took the top spot back on lap 16. Despite constant pressure from Calkins and Cameron Ouellette, Caron held on, fending off Calkins in a four-lap sprint to the checkers following a pair of late cautions.
Rich Lowrey nipped Ouellette at the line for third in a last-lap scrum. Woodard, Jason Pelkey, Michael Martin, Cooper Bouchard, Bryan P. Wall, and Matt Potter completed the top-10.
Kaiden Fisher triumphed in the first 25-lap Street Stock segment. Fisher time-trialed second behind 2019 champion Jeffrey Martin but caught a lucky break early when Josh Poirier spun on the opening lap. Although Poirer was able to get back going without a caution, the lead duo caught up to him in a hurry, and Fisher used the slower car as a pick to get the lead.
Martin kept the heat on Fisher the rest of the event was able to get to his outside in the final circuits with lapped cars double-file in front of the leaders. Fisher survived the charge, though, and beat Martin to the finish line by half a car length.
Tanner Woodard finished a distant third. Justin Blakely, Josh Lovely, Kyler Davis, James Dopp, Kyle MacAskill, Tommy Campbell, and Tyler Whittemore rounded out the top-10. Both the Flying Tigers and Street Stocks will run their second and final segments during Sunday’s program.
Clay Badger came within a couple car lengths of a perfect score in the Burnett Scrap Metals Road Warrior Mini Milk Bowl. Badger charged from 11th on the starting grid to take the lead on lap 11 of the first 25-lap segment. The quick rise to the front kept him well in front of some mid-segment carnage that put a serious hurting on the 25-car starting field.
In the second 25-lap segment, Badger started shotgun on the grid. The youngster steadily worked his way through the field, moving into the second spot on lap 18 with a three-wide move under Sean McCarthy and Justin Prescott. Badger then ran down leader Josh Vilbrin and was on the doorstep when the checkered flag flew. The runner-up finish in segment two gave him the overall win with a combined score of three points.
Prescott’s finishes of third and fifth netted him second overall after taking the initial green flag in dead last. Berlin’s Dan Garrett Jr. took third on a three-way tiebreaker with Frank Putney and Paige Whittemore. Todd Raymo, Vilbrin, Josh Kennett, Fred Fleury, and Mark Beaulieu came sixth through 10th in the overall.