LAPERLE TAKES MILK BOWL HOME TO CANADA by Justin St. Louis
Milk Bowl's $10,000 Winner Decided in Final 10 Laps
As the American-Canadian Tour field rolled out for the third round of the historic New England Dodge Dealers Milk Bowl at Thunder Road, Patrick Laperle was in control. With what appeared to be the fastest car in the field, many felt he simply could not lose. Laperle began the third segment of the Milk Bowl with a six-point advantage over Brent Dragon, Dave Pembroke, and Jean-Paul Cyr.
segment two, first in segment three). Laperle, with finishes of seventh and first in the first two rounds, had an 18-point score going for him. To win the Milk Bowl, he would need to finish sixth or better.
At the restart, Laperle shot through the field like a cannon. Just three laps after having no chance, Laperle found himself in the money spot. A pass of Dave Whitcomb on lap 42 sealed the Milk Bowl's fate. Laperle bought himself some insurance by moving to fifth under Steve Fisher on lap 45. That's all it took.
In the cumulatively-scored, three-segment event, one point is awarded to the winner of each segment, two points for second, etc., and the lowest total score after three 50-lap segments earns the win. Although Laperle was forced to start at the tail for the final segment (the finish of the previous segment is inverted to start the next - Laperle won segment #2), he needed only to finish within five positions of the trio. No problem.
As the green flag flew, however, the hopes of the Laperle supporters were quickly dashed. The blue and orange Demers Ambulances/Precision JLM #91 Chevrolet slapped the wall hard and fell far behind the pack. As the lap counter began to click, things only looked worse. Dragon was on a tear moving from 14th to seventh, and Laperle was not getting any faster.
a sixth-place overall finish, while Eric Williams, John Donahue, Eric Chase, and rookie Ryan Nolin rounded out the Top 10 in order.
Speed51.com will have all the Leftovers this week, including a record-breaking time trial session, reflections on the ACT season, and Patrick Laperle's take on his "French" kiss of the Milk Bowl beauty queen - a genuine Vermont Ayrshire cow! Stay tuned!
Laperle meets Dickens, the 2005 Milk Bowl Queen. (51 photo)
"It's the Milk Bowl, it's the biggest race of the year, and it's Ten Grand!" Laperle said. "Plattsburgh (Airborne) was $2,500 each time, at Oxford they gave me more than $5,000, and Unity was $12,000. That's almost $35,000 this year in four races. Pretty good, huh?"
Brent Dragon's win in the third segment was enough to clinch the runner-up position with 15 points. Mark Lamberton's score of 22 points (13th, third, and sixth) earned him third place, ahead of Scott Payea (15th, fourth, and fourth = 23 points) in fourth and Chad Wheeler (sixth, ninth, and ninth = 24) in fifth. Jean-Paul Cyr locked up his third straight ACT Championship with
But on lap nine, top ten drivers Chad Wheeler and Eric Chase spun off Turn three, bringing the caution flag out. Laperle brought his car straight to the pit area for repairs. As the green flag came back out, he found himself mired in 24th place.
Dragon wasted little time in getting to the front, and by lap 33 had nosed in front of Rich Lowrey for the lead. Laperle had picked off positions, including passing a struggling Cyr for 14th place, but was far out of the picture. In fact, the best Laperle could have hoped for was around a fifth-place overall finish, likely behind probable winner Dragon, Pembroke, rookie Scott Payea, Mark Lamberton, and a resurgent Chad Wheeler.
Laperle, his team, and the overflow crowd at Thunder Road were ecstatic.
"To win the Milk Bowl," said an emotional Laperle in victory lane, "Wow, what a feeling!"
His victory marks the first Milk Bowl triumph by a Canadian driver since multi-time CASCAR Champion Dave Whitlock of Petrolia, Ontario won back-to-back in 1994 and 1995. It's the first win for a Quebec driver in 18 years, since Laperle's friend and mentor, Jean-Paul Cabana, won in 1987.
"I started coming here in 1998. My first year I put Cabana in the car because I was scared of Turn four."
"It's the best day of my life," he said. "Unbelievable, man, the Milk Bowl! I was crying on the last lap, I was so happy. In the first segment, the car was bad. Loose, loose, loose. I finished seventh but I don't know why. We took out some gear and put some wedge in the car, and we made a good call because it was so bad. In the second segment the car came alive."
Like everyone else, Laperle thought in the closing laps that he had no chance of winning.
"With ten laps to go I was tenth," he said, "and I finished fifth! Unbelievable. When I had that big trophy I was crying, it was like the Stanley Cup."
The Milk Bowl win capped a dream season for Laperle, one that also saw him win ACT's prestigious Fall Foliage 150 at Airborne Speedway last month, the Pro All Stars Series Unity 250 in June, and open competition event at Airborne. The $10,000 ACTion Super Series purse in the Milk Bowl made it that much sweeter, and raised Laperle's already-impressive earnings total.
Dave Wilcox heads for a chat with A.J. Begin (66) after their lap 131 wreck. (Leif Tillotson photo)
And then it got interesting.
On lap 40, Pembroke found an opening and dove under Ron Henry for fourth place in Turn three. Suddenly the hole closed, and in the blink of an eye Pembroke found his car wrecked, along with Henry, Pete Fecteau, and Trampas Demers.
The wreck moved Laperle into 10th place, and with ten laps remaining, the young Frenchman re-entered the picture. With Dragon leading, he had no more cars to pass and therefore no way to further improve his point tally, which stood at 15 (second in segment one, 12th in
Laperle in the final segment of the Milk Bowl. (Leif Tillotson photo)
Laperle and crew raise the Milk Bowl trophy in celebration. (Leif Tillotson photo)