Favorites Cyr and Laperle Have Different Goals for ACT LM Season Finale
When you get dozens and dozens of ACT Late Models, with their spec engines and spec shocks together for one race anything can happen.  That makes it hard to predict a winner – especially for an event with the unique format (more on that later) of this coming weekend’s Milk Bowl at Thunder Road Speedbowl (VT).
“The last three [Milk Bowl] races, I finished on the Podium,” said Laperle.  “Last year, I won.  The year before, I finished third.  In 2003, I didn’t go because I was racing in Montreal, but the year before that I finished second.”

That record doesn’t make Laperle unbeatable at Thunder Road though.  Without the luxury of points and provisionals, he first needs to race his way into the starting field – which is something that is not always easy at Thunder Road.

“This year, we’ve gone to two races at Thunder Road and didn’t qualify for either one,” said Laperle.  “So hopefully, we’ll be good this weekend.  We were trying new stuff for the last two races, but this time we’re going back to what we know works.”
But if you pressed a hardcore fan or observer hard enough for an answer, there are likely two names that would come up as the most likely to succeed in this year’s race – five time ACT champion Jean-Paul Cyr and defending Milk Bowl winner Patrick Laperle.

Both men are very aware of the history surrounding the race.  Before either one turned a single lap around Thunder Road, they were young fans of the sport who watched their heroes motor around the tight high-banked Vermont oval.

Now, they are the ones making the history.

“I’ve been to Thunder Road for so many years,” said Laperle.  “My Uncle raced there when I was small.  To
dominating the race is highly unlikely.  This format keeps both competitors and fans on their toes.

“I love it the way that they do it,” said Leperle of the format.

Time trials for the Milk Bowl will take place on Saturday afternoon, September 30th, with the main events being held on Sunday afternoon, October 1st. will be on hand this weekend to bring you all of the stories from the 43rd annual short track classic.

just have my name with all of those guys who have won that race is something.  I’m only the second guy from Quebec, along with Jean Paul Cabana, to win it.  I think that there are only four Canadians to win that race – Dave Whitlock and Randy MacDonald.  Four names in 42 years.  It’s pretty neat to be in that group.”

While Laperle is focused solely on winning the race, Cyr has another objective this weekend.  He heads into the event with the ACT Late Model healthy 72-point lead in the standings.  A solid run will clinch his sixth tour title, putting him into a tie with one of his racing heroes, Robbie Crouch.

“It will be an honor to tie Robbie’s record,” said Cyr. “Growing up, I always felt that he was the best out on the track. I’ve always looked up to him in the racing community and I try to race like he did. As nice as it is to catch him in championships, I’d really like to match his Milk Bowl wins.”

Cyr has won the race before, but it was 10 years ago.  Since his 1996 victory, he has had to be somewhat conservative in the final event on the ACT Late Model calendar because of his championship aspirations.  This season though, Cyr has some extra breathing room and can race more aggressively for a Milk Bowl victory.
“This year’s New England Dodge Dealers Milk Bowl will be different from those I’ve run in the past,” Cyr said. “I have a good point lead so I can just go out there and concentrate on winning the race. For the past three or four years I’ve been a bit conservative at the Milk Bowl just to make sure we held on to the title.  My crew and I are looking forward to the 43rd Milk Bowl.  We’re very focused on the event but there’s no telling what can happen at that race, so we’ll just see what happens.”

On the other hand, Laperle has not had to worry about points.  The barnstorming Canadian racer picks and chooses his race events based on the prestige and purse money at stake.  He’ll run an ACT-type Late Model one week and a Super Late Model someplace else the next.  Laperle follows no set tour schedule and points are the furthest thing from his mind.  Victories are all that matter and that has translated well into Milk Bowl success.
Jean-Paul Cyr is looking to make history in the championship-department in the ACT Late Model season finale.  (Alan Ward Photo)
Part of what makes the Milk Bowl unique is the format of the race.  It is not a straight-up 150 lapper.  In fact, the winner might not be the first guy to cross under a checkered flag all day long.

The Milk Bowl is made up of three 50-lap segments.  After the first and second segments, the field is inverted.  After the third segment, a score is calculated based on a driver’s finish in each 50 lap mini-race.  First place in a segment earns a one, second place a two and so on.  The driver with the lowest score after the three races is declared the Milk Bowl winner.

A flag-to-flag winner is impossible and one driver
There will be plenty of side-by-side racing this weekend at Thunder Road.  (Alan Ward Photo)
While Patrick Laperle only cares about winnign the race.  (51 Photo)