Austin Theriault Ready To Seal The Deal At NHMS
17-year-old Hopes To Cash In First Victory This Weekend
FORT KENT, Maine – Austin Theriault enjoyed every minute of his coming-out party at New Hampshire Motor Speedway last month.
On Saturday, Theriault hopes to celebrate an even better performance.
The 17-year-old ACT Late Model Tour sophomore driver joins 42 other Late Model teams from across the northeast and Canada in the 3rd annual ACT Invitational at New Hampshire on Saturday. Teams will practice in the morning before taking the green flag for the 50-lap ACT Invitational shortly after 5:30 p.m.
“It definitely drives different than any other track. No matter what car you’re in, you have to approach this kind of track differently,” Theriault said of the flat, 1.058-mile oval.” Loudon – I wouldn’t call it a crap-shoot – but there’s a lot more variables there than in regular short-track racing.”
At the inaugural ACT All-Star Challenge in August, the first-ever Tour points race at NHMS, Theriault roared from 32nd to second over the final 50 laps to finish as the runner-up to Brian Hoar, the winningest driver in ACT history. That effort was part of an impressive run that has now seen Theriault leap to fourth in the season standings – despite running one fewer race than everybody else in the Top-7.
His second-place finish in the All-Star Challenge was part of a streak that has seen Theriault post five straight Top-5 finishes to date in the No. 57 Varney Insurance Ford.
“We learn every week. Compared to last year, we’re a much better team as far as paying attention to details and fine-tuning at the track. I think that’s made the biggest difference,” Theriault said. “It’s not something we have that no one else has – it’s something we’ve been able to put into one good package. Right now, we’re a pretty respectable team when it comes to racing on the ACT Tour, as far as being able to put everything together.”
There is the very real possibility that Theriault, who made his New Hampshire debut last season as a rookie in this race, can finally get that first ACT victory. He’s put himself in position to do that virtually every week since finishing third in the TD Bank Oxford 250 in July – when he became the youngest podium finisher in the nearly four-decade history of that event.
And there’s no better stage for doing that than New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“I think I learned to be a little more aggressive,” Theriault said of racing at NHMS. “You really have to drive it down into the corners. A lot of this series is downforce, especially at Loudon. The car was a lot better (in Augusta) than it was last year.
“I think having a good car here makes the biggest difference.”