Theriault’s Rookie Stock Keeps Rising
16-year-old ACT driver finding consistency in season’s 2nd half

FORT KENT, Maine — Austin Theriault felt like he was starring in an episode on the old VH1 reality show “The Surreal Life” during a recent trip to New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“We were in the Cup garages,” Theriault said of the two-day test for ACT Late Model Tour teams last week at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series facility, New England’s largest track. “It was surreal. Put it this way: The first time I went out on the track, I didn’t want to come back in.

“That’s how much I enjoyed it there.”

That test session has proven a great illustration of the 16-year-old ACT rookie’s season to date. A largely untested commodity heading into the year, he’s leading the ACT Rookie of the Year standings, was one of nearly 80 teams invited to the New Hampshire test and this week was invited to compete in the Showdown at Chaudiere — the ACT “all-star” event pitting 12 American-based Late Model teams against 12 Canadian ones at Autodrome Chaudiere in Vallee-Jonction, Quebec, this Saturday night, Aug. 28.

Confidence has been the key for Theriault and the No. 57 Varney Insurance/Hogan Tire/Daigle&Houghton Ford Fusion.

“We’ve just gotten a lot of confidence knowing how far we’ve come in a short time,” said Theriault, who posted his fifth top-10 of the season at Circuit St. Croix two weeks ago, “and how far we have left to go. It’s humbling when you go to a place like New Hampshire Motor Speedway and know how few people get the opportunity to race there.

“I had a lot of fun there. We all had a lot of fun there — the whole team really did. Before the year started, we never expected we’d be there at that level right now, not at this point.”

Theriault sits ninth in the overall ACT standings and enjoys a five-point lead over Bradley Babb in the Rookie of the Year battle. He’s climbed the ladder in both championship chases by being a remarkable force of consistency — having finished 11th or better in each of the last four races.

This week, Theriault will take the same car that carried him to a career-best finish of second at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway last month and a respectable 11th-place showing at Waterford Speedbowl last weekend after recovering from an early trip through the infield grass.

“We’re going to go into this weekend and look at it kind of like a test,” he said. “There’s not as mch pressure with a race like this. We have some new stuff we want to try with the car, and this is a good chance to do that.

“We’re going there to have fun, and hopefully to help rack up some points for the American team.”

Theriault and the rest of the ACT Late Model Tour return to their championship battle with the Labor Day Classic 200 at Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vt., on September 5.