Christopher Pelkey Pockets Over $15,500 in First Vermont Milk Bowl Triumph

photo by Alan Ward
Christopher Pelkey took down the Segment One win in the 60th Vermont Milk Bowl.

BARRE – The 60th Vermont Milk Bowl proved to be one of the most thrilling and lucrative in its hallowed history. Over $85,000 in cash and prizes were distributed to the Milk Bowl field, not including the purses for Sunday’s three support divisions with their own iconic Mini Milk Bowls. In all, four fantastic, hard-nosed and deserving racers took home those four silver bowls that truly signify as the pinnacle of any stock car racing career in the State of Vermont.

The day’s action started off with the final round of qualifying for the 60th Vermont Milk Bowl. Led to green by top rookie Keegan Lamson and Quebec star Raphael Lessard, the wick turned up for the 35-lap B-Feature. Lap 13 would see the first yellow as Lessard and Chris Roberts made contact with Roberts done for the day. Following the restart, the field spread out everywhere except for the final transfer spot in fourth place. The pot boiled over as Jamie Swallow Jr. and Cooper Bouchard both barreled through the infield grass on lap 32. In the short restart, former Milk Bowl champion Jason Corliss would prevail followed by Alexendre Tardf, Matt Smith and Darrell Morin. Lamson, Lessard and Cody LeBlanc would tag on through provisionals.

photo by Alan Ward
Middlesex’s Logan Powers also barely edged his closest competitor to earn the win and it sent him on a wild ride to take the Flying Tiger Mini Milk Bowl.

Following opening ceremonies, the first of three Vermont Milk Bowl segments was underway beneath the green flag. An early caution for the spinning Alex Labbe would stack the field once again with Marcel Gravel taking the early lead over Christopher Pelkey and Jimmy Hebert. Hebert would divebomb under Gravel to steal away the lead on lap 20 before the second caution for the stopped Lessard #48QC on lap 29. Hebert would grab the edge on Gravel at the restart but “Micro Marcel” would overtake the former Flying Tiger champion once again.

2022 King of the Road Christopher Pelkey would show his cards early, powering hard off the outside groove to motor around both Hebert and Gravel to steal away the segment lead on lap 42. Without looking back, Pelkey would handily win Segment One followed by Hebert, Gravel, Derrick O’Donnell and Cody Blake to round out the top-5.

The first segment for the Mini Milk Bowl was complete and utter chaos as 30 four-cylinder wonders took to the Thunder Road high banks. With their ranks flooded with new and never-before-seen teams, the Road Warrior faithful had their work cut out for them. “Flyin’” Fred Fleury stuck to his moniker as he sliced through the field, as did Taylor Sayers, Jamie York and Josh Vilbrin. Sayers would take the segment one win after apparent winner Alex Theroux failed post-race technical inspection. Fleury and York would round out the top finishers.

Not letting the Warriors have all the fun, the Street Stocks followed with their second segment to conclude their Mini Milk Bowl championship. Led to green by Haidyn Pearce and Josh Lovely, Lovely would get the jump after a rough run on Qualifying Day. Pearce would get spun around in the early goings to bring out the first caution, stacking the field once again. Through Lovely’s commanding lead, former track champion Jeffery Martin battled up to pick a fight with the leader. Under the checkered flag Martin would take the segment win over Lovely and Jesse Laquerre. Groton, Vermont’s Luke Peters would claim the 2022 Street Stock Mini Milk Bowl with an eight-point overall score to beat out 2022 track champion Dean Switser Jr. and Justin “El Chopo” Blakely.

photo by Alan Ward
Groton’s Luke Peters earned the biggest win of his young career, stealing away the Stock Mini Milk Bowl.

The inverted finish from Segment One gave the crowd Segment Two as the Late Models retook the track. Led to green by top White Mountain Motorsports Park competitor Jesse Switser and Thunder Road rookie Keegan Lamson, Switser would show the way early before Patrick Laperle entered the picture. “Le Grande” Laperle took over the lead on lap five and held on over Thunder Road regular Darrell Morin. Overall point leader Pelkey played safe in the back end of the field while Jimmy Hebert marched up through the pack on the outside lane and it almost cost him dearly.

Brendan Moodie went into the spin cycle in the middle of turns three and four, narrowly missing the Hebert machine as fellow overall leaders Marcel Gravel and Derrick O’Donnell turned into the infield grass as the caution flag flew. On the restart Laperle powered back into the lead over Morin as the overall leaders stayed boxed in on the inside groove out back. A lap 43 catastrophe would strike Laperle as a downing tire stopped him in turn four to bring out the caution after leading most of the event. The final restart pitted Morin against three-time Milk Bowl champion Jason Corliss.

After a brutal weekend that saw the champ have to win the B-Feature to make the show, Corliss showed the field he still had it, taking down the Segment Two win followed by a hard charging Scott Dragon who overtook Morin in the closing stages. Brooks Clark and Jimmy Renfrew Jr. would round out the top-five.

photo by Alan Ward
Former winner Jason Corliss took over Segment Two late to take the checkers in the 60th Vermont Milk Bowl.

The Road Warriors returned to settle their Mini Milk Bowl. It was all up to Fred Fleury, Taylor Sayers and Jamie York to muscle their way up through the field once more and so they did. All three nearly lost their chance with the 95VT of Alex Theroux stopped in the middle of turns three and four with Dan Garrett flying headlong into him after the caution flag was flown. On the restart, the race was on between Fleury and Sayers. On the final lap Fleury was ahead on the bottom as Sayers pushed with everything he had, edging Fleury at the line for the overall win. Taylor Sayers would join the winner’s circle as a Mini Milk Bowl champion with Fred Fleury and Jason Ball rounding out the podium.

Following the Warriors, it was now time for the Flying Tigers to settle their Saturday score. After wrecking out in lap one of Segment One on Qualifying Day, Colin Cornell took off like a rocket from the pole position over former track champion Joel Hodgdon. As the former champ followed the hard-luck hero, Kyle Streeter’s spinning #37VT in turn three would call out the first caution of the segment. Cornell would lead once again as the principle-players began to make moves in the back of the pack.

Justin Prescott would need to out-do Logan Powers after their 1-2 finish in Segment One and Prescott was fully aware of his predicament. Prescott dove his Brian Hoar-throwback under the side-by-side Mark Barnier and Chris Laforest to make it three-wide in turn three and was still looking for more. As he attempted to pass Jamon Perry on the frontstretch, Perry’s loose machine took them both into the infield to bring out the second caution on lap 36. The final four laps would be wild with Prescott returning to his spot just one car ahead of Logan Powers. In the restart shuffle, the two would find themselves neck-and-neck by the time they came into turn three for the final time. Prescott would squeeze between Powers and Zach Audet through three and four before slamming into the “Widowmaker” front stretch wall, taking Powers with him in a spectacular melee under the twin checkers at the line. Logan Powers would earn the 2022 Flying Tiger Mini Milk Bowl victory just two points ahead of Justin Prescott with Mike MacAskill motoring up to a third-place finish.

photo by Alan Ward
Barre’s own Taylor Sayers earned the Road Warrior Mini Milk Bowl the hard way, just edging his closest competitor at the line.

Finally, it was time to crown the 60th Vermont Milk Bowl champion. At this point Scott Dragon leads the overall score with Corliss, Hebert, Pelkey, DJ Shaw and young Kaiden Fisher all within striking distance. Once again inverted, Matt Smith and Joey Pole brought the field to green for their final 50 lap sprint. Smith would take the early lead as Pole slid backwards on the outside with Cody Blake all over his rear bumper in second. Former winners Pole and Laperle held a spirited side-by-side joust for the fifth spot as Pelkey and Hebert began working their way through the field.

Lap 22 would find caution number one as Stephen Donahue went spinning in turn three. Believing Jimmy Renfrew Jr. to be the cause, Donahue waited to strike. On the caution laps Donahue stopped ahead of Renfrew, threw his Chevy SS into reverse and piled up onto the hood of the #00NH Renfrew Motorsports Ford Mustang. Donahue was immediately disqualified from the event, escorted off the property with further fines and suspensions to be released in the coming days.

On the restart Derrick O’Donnell took advantage of Matt Smith’s drive on the inside lane to steal second away from Blake. The final caution on lap 31 for debris across turn one set up a drag race between O’Donnell and Blake with the former three-peat champion pulling away. Christopher Pelkey sat comfortably in fifth as Jimmy Hebert sat dangerously in eighth. On lap 40, Pelkey would take a make-or-break risk to dive between Matt Smith and Patrick Laperle in turns three and four, powering across the start/finish line in third. The move would pay off in spades as Pelkey would come under the checkered flags with 21 overall points to Hebert’s 22 and claim his first Vermont Milk Bowl. Derrick O’Donnell would earn third with 23 points, D.J. Shaw would take 26 points for fourth and Scott Dragon came home sixth with 27 points.

By winning the 60th Vermont Milk, Christopher Pelkey becomes the 38th different driver to pull-off the “Toughest Short Track Stock Car Race in North America.” Pelkey also joins an elite list of eight, now nine, drivers who have won the Thunder Road King of the Road track championship and the Vermont Milk Bowl in the same season, joining such legends and heroes as Harold Hanaford, Dave Dion, Stub Fadden and Brian Hoar.

UNOFFICIAL RESULTS

(Finish; Car #; Driver; Hometown; Final Score = Seg. #1 Finish + Seg. #2 Finish + Seg. #3 Finish)

60th Vermont Milk Bowl – Three 50 Lap Segments

1. 64VT. Christopher Pelkey. Graniteville, 21 = 1+17+3

2. 58VT, Jimmy Hebert, Williamstown, 22 = 2+15+5

3. 7K, Derrick O’Donnell, Haverhill, N.H., 23 = 4+18+1

4. 04VT, D.J. Shaw, Center Conway, N.H., 26 = 6+13+7

5. 0VT, Scott Dragon, Milton, 27 = 12+2+13

6. 18VT, Kaiden Fisher, Shelburne, 28 = 7+11+10

7. 99VT, Cody Blake, Barre, 31 = 5+24+2

8. 88VT, Nick Sweet, Barre, 31 = 14+8+9

9. 86VT, Marcel Gravel, Wolcott, 33 = 3+19+11

10. 94VT, Brendan Moodie, Wolcott, 35 = 8+12+15

11. 97NH, Joey Polewarczyk Jr, Hudson, N.H., 40 = 9+25+6

12. 00NH, Jimmy Renfrew, Candia, N.H., 41 = 15 +5+21

13. 51VT, Jason Corliss, Barre, 41 = 16 +1+24

14. 27VT, Kyle Pembroke, Montpelier, 43 = 11+20+12

15. 17VT, Darrell Morin, Westford, 43 = 22+3+18

16. 16VT, Brandon Lanphear, Morrisville, 43 = 17+6+20

17. 9ME, Shawn Swallow, Groveton, N.H., 43 = 10+10+23

18. 68VT, Brooks Clark, Fayston, 44 = 23 +4+17

19. 21QC, Alexandre Tardif, Notre Dame des Pins, QC, 47 = 18+21+8

20. 91QC, Patrick Laperle, St-Denis, QC, 50 = 24 +22+4,

21. 36QC, Alex Labbe, St- Albert, QC, 50 = 20 +14+16

22. 45NH, Kasey Beattie, St. Johnsbury, 51 = 21 +16+14

23. 25NH, Jesse Switser, W. Burke, 58 = 26 +7+25

24. 36NH, Erick Sands, Derry, N.H., 69 = 27 +23+19

25. 04ME, Matt Smith, Fairfax, 72 = 19+26+27

26. 55VT, Keegan Lamson, Berlin, 74 = 25+27+22

27. 7NH, Cody LeBlanc, Berlin, 82 = 28+28+26

28. 48QC, Raphael Lessard, Quebec City, QC, 87 = 29 +29+29

DSQ 2VT, Stephen Donahue, Graniteville, VT**

**Disqualified for Contact with Intent

Flying Tigers – Mini Milk Bowl Overall

1. 11NC, Logan Powers, Middlesex, 6 = 1+5

2. 45BH, Justin Prescott, Williston, 8 = 2+6

3. 3VT, Mike MacAskill, Williamstown, 12 = 5+7

4. 35VT, Derrick Calkins, Hinesburg, 12 = 4=8

5. 45VT, Adam Maynard, Milton, 15 = 6+9

6. 07VT, Sam Caron, Milton, 15 = 3+12

7. 01VT, Mike Martin, Craftsbury Common, 16 = 13+3

8. 67VT, Kevin Streeter, Waitsfield, 16 = 12 +4

9. 8VT, Mike Billado, Grand Isle, 20 = 7+13

10. 56VT, Chris Laforest, Barre, 22 = 11 +11

11. 68NH, Tanner Woodard, Waterbury Ctr., 24 = 10 +14

12. 68VT, Jason Woodard, Waterbury Ctr., 24 = 8+16

13. 36VT, Joel Hodgdon, Craftsbury Common, 25 = 23+2

14. 54VT, Colin Cornell, E. Burke, 28 = 27+1

15. 37VT, Kyle Streeter, Waterbury Ctr., 28 = 9+19

16. 38VT, Zach Audet, Morrisville, 31 = 21+10

17. 13VT, Brian Delphia, Duxbury, 31 = 16 +15

18. 78VT, Tyler Pepin, Barre, 35 = 17+18

19. 08VT, Phil Potvin, Underhill, 35 = 15+20

20. 0VT, Mark Barnier, Essex Jct., 39 = 22+17

21. 33VT, Matt Ballard, Williamstown, 39 = 18+21

22. 15NH, Joey Laquerre, E. Montpelier, 39 = 14+25

23. 62VT, Jamon Perry, Hardwick, 42 = 19+23

24. 23NY, Cam Gadue, Highgate, 44 = 20+24

25. 2NH, Mike Clark, Littleton, N.H., 46 = 24+22

26. 8NH, Rich Lowrey, South Hero, 52 = 25+27

27. 20VT, Robert Gordon, Milton, 53 = 26+27

Street Stocks – Mini Milk Bowl Overall

1. 26, Luke Peters, Groton, 8 = 1+7

2. 16, Dean Switser Jr., Waterford, 11 = 2+9

3. 17, Justin Blakely, Graniteville, 15 = 5+10

4. 22, Thomas Smith, Williamstown, 15 = 4+11

5. 48, Taylor Hoar, South Hero, 15 = 3+12

6. 71, Jesse Laquerre, Berlin, 17 = 14+3

7. 30, Danny Doyle, Rochester, 19 = 11+8

8. 24, Todd Raymo, Swanton, 22 = 9+13

9. 98, Jeffrey Martin, Barre, 23 = 22+1

10. 5, Kyle Gravel, Wolcott, 24 = 20+4

11. 5VT, Derek Farnham, Bethel, 24 = 7+17

12. 54, Josh Lovely, Williamstown, 25 = 23+2

13. 69, Christopher Davis, Berlin, 25 = 19+6

14. 3, Michael Gay, S. Burlington, 25 = 10+15

15. 77, Bert Duffy, Milton, 26 = 21+5

16. 04, Scott Weston, Berlin, 28 = 6+22

17. 33, Curtis Franks, Topsham, 29 = 13+16

18. 73, Paige Whittemore, Graniteville, 30 = 12+18

19. 29, Gary Mullen, Tunbridge, 32 = 18+14

20. 8, Ryan Foster, Waterbury, 33 = 8+25

21. 6, Eric MacLaughlin, Milton, 36 = 17+19

22. 96, Thomas Peck, Waterbury, 36 = 15+21

23. 12, Mekaylah Bowen, Morrisville, 41 = 16+25

24. 1, Shea Wheeler, Waterbury, 45 = 25+20

25. 2, Haidyn Pearce, Chelsea, 47 = 24+23

Road Warriors – Mini Milk Bowl Overall

1. 95, Taylor Sayers, Barre, 6 = 1+5

2. 99, Fred Fleury, Graniteville, 8 = 2+6

3. 57VT, Jason Ball, Lyndonville, 10 = 9+1

4. 68, Jamie York, Graniteville, 10 = 3+7

5. 07, Josh Vilbrin, Northfield, 13 = 4+9

6. 93, Karl Sheldon, St. Johnsbury, 15 = 7+8

7. 65x, Luke Marcheski, St. Albans, 16 = 12+4

8. 8, Ryan Foster, Waterbury, 17 = 14+3

9. 00, Peter Childs, Orange, 17 = 6+11

10. 71, Jason Kirby, Milton, 19 = 17+2

11. 88, Frank Putney, Graniteville, 20 = 10+10

12. 85, John Drown, Littleton, N.H., 27 = 15+12

13. 06, Eric Charbonneau, Groveton, N.H., 29 = 11+18

14. 54, Dan Garrett, Jr., Berlin, 30 = 8+22

15. 74, Keegan Tabor, Williamstown, 33 = 19+14

16. 08, Shawn Moquin, Milton, 33 = 13+20

17. 33, Brayden Murphy, Barre, 35 = 18+17

18. 6x, Ty Haywood, Newbury, 35 = 16+19

19. 88VT, Brian Putney, E. Corinth, 35 = 5+30

20. 19, Neal Foster, Moretown, 36 = 20+16

21. 03, Robert Catchapaw, Waterbury, 40 = 27+13

22. 13, Brandon Rouleau, Manchester, 44 = 29+15

23. 44VT, Jesse Bundy, Hinesburg, 49 = 26+23

24. 95VT, Alex Theroux, Lyndonville, 51 = 30+21

25. 16, Nate Brien, Williamstown, 51 = 21+30

26. 24, Bobby Bell, Danville, 52 = 22+30

27. 50, Nick Copping, Barre, 53 = 23+30

28. 77, Tyler Whittemore, Barre, 54 = 24+30

29. 12, Jacob Hall-Larson, Northfield, 55 = 25+30

30. 31, Tyler Wheatley, Brookfield, 58 = 28+30