Corliss Joins Elite Company With Third Milk Bowl Victory

Barre- Was there ever any doubt? Jason Corliss had the fastest car all weekend, and went untouched throughout the race. As he did all season, he drove effortlessly through the field of 26 American Canadian Tour late models on his way to an incredible final score of 7 and a third Milk Bowl title.

“It feels damn good” Corliss said in victory lane. “I owe it all to my race team, they put a great race car underneath me”

For Corliss, it’s his 8th total win in any Thunder Road’s five marquee events. It’s his 20th career win, which ties him for third on the all time leaderboard with Dave Pembroke and Cris Michaud. This win undoubtedly cements his legacy as one of the best drivers in the history of the speedway, and at just 33 years of age, he should have plenty more time to make even more history.

Jason Corliss shares a kiss with the cow in victory lane, the third such kiss of his illustrious career

Corliss joined Michaud as the only drivers in the ACT era to win both the Thunder Road track championship and the Milk Bowl in the same season, a feat he took great pride in while in victory lane. “I learned how to race because of Cris, watching him throughout his career” he said. “It’s just really special”

Aside from Corliss, the story of the day, and predictably so was the second segment. Just 7 laps in, the 36 car of Joel Hodgdon broke an axel, causing grease to coat the track and cars to pile into each other in turn 2. Marcel Gravel, Matthew Smith, Matt White, and Shawn Fleury were just a handful of cars involved in the “big one” that almost inevitably happens every year in the second 50 lap stint of the day.

Gravel was able to return to the race in time for segment three, where he went on to lead all 50 laps and win, taking home an overall finish of 9th on the day. It’s the second straight year that the 86 team rallied from an accident to finish in the top 10.

Matthew Smith tried to repair his #04 machine, but unfortunately, the Arnie Hill owned car was badly damaged in the initial crash, and he ended up blowing a right front tire, causing the car to hit hard into the turn 2 wall. Smith was perhaps the most impressive driver of the weekend, however, as he time trialed in the top 10, and drove from 11th to 4th in the first segment, in what was just his second Milk Bowl start.

The A.H. Fence team works to repair Matt Smith’s damaged #04 car

One of the favorites going into the race, the Milk Bowl quickly turned into a disaster for defending champ Bobby Therrien. Contact between Therrien and outside pole sitter Stephen Donahue early in the race resulted in both drivers being sent to the rear of the field, effectively ending their hopes at a win. The driver from Hinesburg, VT went on to win the second segment, only to have his bad day get worse, as his #5 car was deemed too low in the tech line, relegating him to a 27th place finish in the segment. Therrien wound up 21st on the day with a score of 60, which when compared to his winning score of 8 in last year’s event, only proved how cruel the Milk Bowl can be.

East Bridgewater, MA driver Ryan Kuhn was having a career weekend at the Milk Bowl, before disaster struck. He ran very well in the first two segments, sitting 2nd overall going into the final 50 laps, with a total score of 11. Midway through the race, though, the left front suspension failed in his #72 car, sending it straight at the turn 4 wall, and causing it to flip upside down, where it came to rest on its roof. “It’s just disappointing” he told us. “It’s part of racing, but it just sucks.”

The remains of Ryan Kuhn’s #72 car after a wild flip down the front stretch during the Milk Bowl

Kuhn did come home with an 8th place finish overall, however, leaving the weekend with a total pay day of $2,150, but with a completely wrecked race car.

58th Annual Northfield Savings Bank Vermont Milk Bowl Final Results

  1. #66 Jason Corliss, Barre VT (8 Points)
  2. #85 Trampas Demers, Shelburne VT (17)
  3. #16 Scott Dragon, Milton VT (24)
  4. #2 Stephen Donahue, Graniteville VT (26)
  5. #38 Tyler Cahoon, St Johnsbury VT (28)
  6. #64 Christopher Pelkey, Graniteville VT (29)
  7. #35 Alby Ovitt, Candia NH (29)
  8. #72 Ryan Kuhn, E. Bridgewater MA (30)
  9. #86 Marcel J. Gravel, Wolcott VT (33)
  10. #36 Joel Hodgdon, Craftsbury VT (37)
  11. #94 Brendan Moodie, Wolcott VT (37)
  12. #13 Boomer Morris, Barre VT (40)
  13. #27 Kyle Pembroke, Montpelier VT (40)
  14. #15 Craig Bushey, Fairfax VT (42)
  15. #42 Matt White, Northfield VT (43)
  16. #11 Brandon Lanphear, Morrisville VT (44)
  17. #5ME Dillon Moltz, New Sharon ME (48)
  18. #04 Matthew Smith, Essex VT (49)
  19. #68 Brooks Clark, Waitsfield VT (51)
  20. #40 Eric Chase, Milton VT (57)
  21. #5VT Bobby Therrien, Hinesburg VT (60)
  22. #5NY Shawn Fleury, Middlesex VT (67)
  23. #8 Anthony Hill, Waterford VT (68)
  24. #50 Mike Benevides, Westerly RI (72)
  25. #60 Derrick O’Donnell, N. Haverhill NH (79)
  26. #4 Ben Rowe, Turner, ME (80)
  27. #99 Cody Blake, Barre VT (DSQ)

Milk Bowl Saturday: Kuhn, Donahue Make Up Youthful Front Row

“We’re not supposed to be fast at Thunder Road!” were the first words Ryan Kuhn said after climbing out of his #72 Chevrolet Saturday afternoon. Today he was fast, faster than any of the 30 other drivers entered into the Milk Bowl, and became one of the youngest pole sitters in the history of the event at just 20 years of age.

For the East Bridgewater, MA driver, this was a culmination of endless hours of hard work put towards mastering the tricky 1/4 mile oval in Barre. His finishes of 11th and 21st in the two races there this season are the only times he’s failed to run in the top 10 at an ACT event. Add in that he failed to even make the race two seasons ago- made for a very special day.

“We’re really starting to figure out these cars” Kuhn told us. “these last couple of races we’ve been really fast”

Flanking Kuhn on the front row will be Stephen Donahue, one of the youngest regulars in the weekly late model series at Thunder Road. Throughout the season, he’s run almost the entirety of the Thunder Road and ACT races, and that seat time paid off with lap of 12.428 seconds. He started on the pole for the Labor Day Classic in September, but limped the #2 machine to a 17th place finish.

A light rain about 10 minutes before time trials began made things difficult on some of the first drivers to hit the track- both Tyler Cahoon and Jason Corliss put up laps in the 12.6 second range, when they had been closer to 12.4 seconds in practice. Corliss actually posted the fastest lap of the entire day in final practice, a time of 12.38 seconds.

“We’ve been happy with the car all weekend, but time trialing… yeah it’s over with” Corliss said with a smile.

Both Cahoon and Corliss made up for the disappointing time trials, though, posting good finishes in their qualifying races, including a win for Corliss.

The two-time reigning “King of the Road”, Corliss and the Burnett Scrap Metals team are excited for the chance to rebound after a disappointing showing in last year’s Milk Bowl. “We put ourselves in a hole in the first segment last year and you can’t put yourself in a hole here at the Milk Bowl” he said. “It’s one of those races that you just dream about, and we’re really excited to go try and get another one tomorrow”

Defending Milk Bowl champ Bobby Therrien looked great on Saturday, and by many accounts will go into race day as the favorite. He posted a qualifying lap of 12.46 seconds, (good for third on the charts) and then went on to drive away with the win in his 50 lap qualifier- leading every lap after starting 2nd. “To put down a lap like we did in time trials and the back it up in the qualifier, it means a lot” The confidence for the 5x team is at an all time high as they look to win a second straight Milk Bowl tomorrow.

The Fast One Motorsports team pushes Bobby Therrien’s #5 car to the grid for his 50 lap qualifying race on Saturday

Trampas Demers was another driver who emerged as a possible favorite on Saturday, as he was 5th fastest in time trials (12.47) and second in the qualifying race. After the heartbreak of winning the pole for last year’s race on to be disqualified in the tech line, the 85 team is looking for the ultimate redemption story this season.

Matthew Smith turned heads and made a name for himself in this race last season, qualifying on the outside pole for the race. Now that he’s got a full season of late model experience under his belt, he expects to put up a much better showing on Sunday. He qualified the A.H. Fence #04 6th on speed, and will roll off 11th in the race after a 5th place finish in his qualifier. “We’re feeling really confident going into tomorrow, hoping for maybe a top three in a heat, or maybe we’ll even win one, who knows” He said.

Marcel Gravel was one of the top upset picks coming into the weekend, and on Saturday, he proved that he can compete for the win. After a 5th place time trial (12.49), the Thunder Road track record holder ran 3rd in his qualifier and is ready for a chance at bringing his Darrell Waltrip inspired throwback car to victory lane on Sunday. “I think I’m more prepared than I’ve ever been for this race as a driver, and my team always has the car ready to go” He said.

Marcel Gravel’s Darrell Waltrip inspired throwback for the 2020 Milk Bowl

Scott Dragon was the only driver who underperformed Saturday, but he locked himself into the race nonetheless. Not known for his time trialing as it is, he was a respectable 11th fastest (12.61) but struggled to hold onto the final transfer spot in the qualifier, bringing the 16 car home in 8th position. They’ll have a long road to the front from the inside of row 9 on Sunday.

Saturday filled 22 of the 26 available spots for Sunday’s race. Here are the 22 drivers that qualified, and where they’ll line up in the biggest race of the season.

Row 1: #72MA Ryan Kuhn, #2VT Stephen Donahue

Row 2: #5VT Bobby Therrien, #66VT Jason Corliss

Row 3: #5ME Dillon Moltz, #85VT Trampas Demers

Row 4: #86VT Marcel J. Gravel, #42VT Matt White

Row 5: #94VT Brendan Moodie, #38VT Tyler Cahoon

Row 6: #04VT Matthew Smith, #27VT Kyle Pembroke

Row 7: #64VT Christopher Pelkey, #60NH Derrick O’Donnell

Row 8: #68VT Brooks Clark, #99VT Cody Blake

Row 9: #16VT Scott Dragon, #4ME Ben Rowe

Row 10: #13VT Boomer Morris, #40VT Eric Chase

Row 11: #36VT Joel Hodgdon, #35NH Alby Ovitt

Drivers forced to LCQ Sunday Morning (4 Will Qualify)

#25VT Trevor Lyman

#15NH Craig Bushey

#5NY Shawn Fleury

#3VT Ricky Roberts

#11VT Brandon Lanphear

#8NH Anthony Hill

#72VT Scott Coburn

#23VT Stephen Hodgdon

#50RI Mike Benevides

Race Preview: 58th Annual Vermont Milk Bowl

As we journey into October of this ever so strange 2020, the signs of fall are once again prevalent in Vermont. The crisp morning air, the leaves on the trees trading out their usual green for shades of red and orange. But perhaps the surest sign of fall comes this weekend- the 58th Vermont Milk Bowl. 

This year, the “Toughest Event in Short Track Racing” will look and feel different from years past. Attendance limitations and mask requirements as Vermont and the world continues to navigate a global pandemic will certainly make things a little bit different than what we’re all used to. 

But it won’t take away from the valor of the event. With the way COVID-19 tried to cripple local race tracks financially, we’re lucky that this race is even happening in the first place. However, as soon as those engines fire, it has, and will, give off that slight feeling or normalcy that everyone craves these days. 

We’ll once again face the question that comes to mind every time the American Canadian Tour makes a trip to Barre- can the “invaders” knock off the Thunder Road regulars? This year has belonged completely to the regulars. In fact, the only ACT regulars to even score a top 10 at Thunder Road this year are DJ Shaw and Jimmy Hebert, with Shaw’s 7th place run in the Community Bank 150 as the benchmark. 

This will likely be a showdown between the best drivers to hit the highbanks each Thursday night throughout the summer, but don’t count out the likes of Shaw, Hebert and Ryan Kuhn, who will all have another shot at figuring this track out this weekend.  

So, let’s take a look at who can win, and some dark horses who could make a major splash this weekend. 

The Favorites

Jason Corliss, #66 Burnett Scrap Metals Ford

Jason Corliss and team celebrate his 2020 Thunder Road Track Championship

The obvious first choice here is the man who has absolutely dominated anything and everything at Thunder Road for more than a half decade now. His list of accomplishments and race wins at Thunder Road is vast, and growing almost every time he hits the track. He won the Milk Bowl in 2017 and 2018, and has now won the last two track championships, as well. The only man to be “King of the Road” and Milk Bowl champion in the same season? Current track owner Cris Michaud in 2004. 

Corliss has finished 1st and 3rd in the two ACT races in Barre this season, and and sported an incredible 3.2 average finishing position in the 2nd half of the 2020 regular season. His unbeatable pace in the latter half of the season allowed for him to charge from behind and win the title by 50 points, even after an early season DNQ left him with one less start than his competitors in the points. 

While it’s not a lock, Corliss enters the weekend with the best shot to win the race. Chris Burnett and Andrew Hill have given him the best resources, and there’s reason to believe Corliss is the best driver in the garage right now. The biggest question of the weekend will be whether or not anyone can catch the 66. 

Bobby Therrien, #5 Fast One Motorsports Chevrolet

Bobby Therrien pulls into victory lane after winning the 2020 Labor Day Classic 200 at Thunder Road

The defending Milk Bowl champion, Therrien won’t be short on confidence coming into this weekend, as the Fast One Motorsports team finally has their new car running up to par. The “Bad Boy” ran 3rd or better six times this year at Thunder Road, and won twice, including the Labor Day Classic 200 for the ACT. His epic battle throughout that race with Jason Corliss proved that he is not only as fast as the 66, but he can be faster. 

Pete Duto and Derrick O’Donnell can put a car together like no one else, and Therrien’s driving style is the perfect mix of intelligence and aggression that’s needed to win a race like this. They seem to be peaking as well, which only helps their cause. 

Scott Dragon, #16 Richard Green Trucking Chevrolet

Scott Dragon after one of his three wins this season at Thunder Road

How has Scott Dragon never won a Milk Bowl? The 16 team has been dominant at Thunder Road ever since Dragon got behind the wheel of this car. But they’ve never won the Milk Bowl. Is this the year? Dragon won three races this year, and finished third in the final point standings even though they missed a race early in the season. 

The Milton, VT driver pounced on multiple opportunities this year. He started on the front row in a race he went on to win by five seconds. In the midseason championships, the seas parted for him when the leaders wrecked each other, opening the door for a double point counting win that helped save what could have easily been a lost season. Late in the year, a late caution allowed him to restart on the front row, where he drove off to an easy third victory. 

Dragon also performed well in the Labor Day Classic, coming from behind to finish 4th on the day. Ever since the motor expired on his 16 machine in the second week of the year, the Richard Green team has been both lucky and opportunistic. Carrying those traits into the most challenging and unpredictable race of the year can give them an upper hand. I don’t think they’re quite as fast as the 5 and the 66, but he’s a lucky break away from finally checking the Milk Bowl off his list. 

Drivers To Watch

Marcel J. Gravel, #86 Vermont Shifter Karts Toyota

Marcel Gravel prepares to strap into his #86 Toyota before a Thursday night feature at Thunder Road

Kicking off 2020 with his second career late model victory, Former Milk Bowl polesitter Marcel Gravel looked like a serious title contender for the first half of the season. He led the points for more weeks than any other driver at Thunder Road, but a string of bad runs when he needed them most relegated him to a 5th place finish in the final standings. He had an average finish of 5.6 in the first eight races of the year, finishing no worse than 8th. It was a completely different story in the final five races of the year, however, as the 86 team limped home with an average finish of 11.8, and just one top 10 run. 

We’ve clearly seen flashes of greatness from the young driver from Wolcott, VT, most notably a 100-plus lap battle for the lead with Jason Corliss in the Governor’s Cup. He’s got the speed and talent to do it, but In order to pull off the victory, Gravel will need to find a way to perform better under pressure than he did in the championship stretch. 

Tyler Cahoon, #38 P&H Transportation/Berlin Optical Chevrolet

Tyler Cahoon prepares to roll out for a feature event at Thunder Road

One of the veterans of competition at Thunder Road, Tyler Cahoon seems poised for another good run in the biggest race of the season. It was a season of inconsistency for the Danville, VT driver, including a couple of badly wrecked race cars and a blistered tire during an event this year. 

Perhaps more noticeable than his struggles, though, were his successes towards the end of the season. A feature win and a 2nd place in the final event of the year were signs of optimism for this team, and they’ve been getting faster and faster every week thanks in large part to their new alliance with Pard Brothers Racing, who also builds cars for Jason Corliss. 

Cahoon won the final segment of last year’s Milk Bowl, and should be able to run up front again this year. If they can keep the car out of trouble, they can absolutely contend for a win. 

Dylan Payea, #7 Payea Motorsports Dodge

Dylan Payea stands near his #7 Dodge in preparation of the 2020 ACT 150 at Riverside, NH

The little team that could of the ACT, Dylan Payea has a knack for outrunning his equipment throughout his young career. He’s run the entire ACT schedule this season with almost no sponsorship at all, and currently sits 5th in the points. He had a top five car at Oxford last month, and runs Thunder Road better than most of the ACT invaders. 

He had a solid run going in last year’s race before being involved in the “big one” in segment two. His biggest key to success this weekend will be taking car of his car and keeping it in one piece, but if he can do that, he’s got the potential to run up front. Can Payea pull the upset and get his first career win on the biggest stage? 


The 58th Vermont Milk Bowl weekend kicks off Friday and runs through Sunday, with the three segment, 150 lap, $10,000 to win main event. The Inside Groove will be at the track all weekend long for live coverage of the race on Facebook and Twitter (@InsideGrooveTV).