Austin Theriault: Papa John’s 100
Five Flags Speedway Race Preview

Brad Keselowski Racing development driver Austin Theriault of Fort Kent, Maine, climbs back into the BKR No. 29 Checkered Flag Foundation Dodge for the Papa John’s 100, the second round of the “Buddy’s Blizzard Series” at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., on Friday, April 27. Theriault heads to the Super Late Model event fresh off of two consecutive Top-10 finishes with BKR, including a career-best seventh-place effort at The Rattler 250 at South Alabama Speedway in March. This will mark Theriault’s first trip to Five Flags Speedway, home to the prestigious Snowball Derby each December.

WHO: Austin Theriault, Fort Kent, Maine
TEAM: Brad Keselowski Racing No. 29 Checkered Flag Foundation Dodge
CREW CHIEF: Gary Crooks, Mooresville, N.C.


WHAT: Papa John’s 100, Buddy’s Blizzard Series Round No. 2
WHERE: Five Flags Speedway, Pensacola, Fla. (.500-mile banked oval)
WHEN: Qualifying, 7 p.m., Friday, April 27; Race, 8 p.m., Friday, April 27


Austin Theriault has competed in four events for Brad Keselowski Racing, posting a career-best Super Late Model finish of seventh last time out at The Rattler 250 in March.

Austin Theriault finished third in the final ACT Late Model Tour standings in 2011, his highest career finish, on the strength of six consecutive Top-5 finishes to close out the season.

Crew chief Gary Crooks also serves as a PASS North Series crew chief for Mulkern Racing, which won two races as a team in 2011.

Austin Theriault plans to enter the Snowball Derby for the first time this December, a race that is also held at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla.

AUSTIN THERIAULT, Driver of the BKR No. 29 Checkered Flag Foundation Dodge, On what he expects at the Papa John’s 100: “Really, it’s just about getting a head start on the Snowball Derby. We’re going to go there and try to win, but we’re also going there and trying get all the info we can about the track. I’m going to try and find the groove and find what works, but it will just be another opportunity for all the guys to work together, too.

“We’re on a good stretch here, where every week working with (crew chief Gary Crooks) is pretty cool. He’s a great guy, and I’m still learning as a driver. He’s always there to critique me and tell me what I can do better. We’ll use this, again, as another learning opportunity, another growing opportunity.”

On whether he finally feels like he’s fitting in at BKR: “Yeah, I do. It almost feels like the family I have up here (in New England) with the ACT Late Model Tour team. Everything flows well. Everybody’s easy to get along with. They’re a fun group to be around. I enjoy going out and racing with them every time. Every time we have a race, I’m looking forward to it, and I’m looking forward to this weekend, too.”

GARY CROOKS, Crew chief for the BKR No. 29 Checkered Flag Foundation Dodge, On the challenge this weekend presents: “It’s important for Austin to walk away from there and have something to think about. Pensacola isn’t like any other place he’s been to. For as fast as it is and for as little grip it has, it’s important for him to go there and be able to experience it and get a feel for it.”

“(Drivers) all have a tendency to try to get in the corner way hard, and it kills the right front. It’s important to know where you’re limits are in the corners, both on entry and on exit. I need him to have that education before we go back with a $30,000 bill on the line in the Snowball Derby.”

On what makes Five Flags Speedway unique: “It’s a very fast race track, very hard on tires. You only get 10-15 laps on a set of tires with what you have, and you never really know comparing lap times to other guys. Some guys are on new tires, some guys are on old tires (in practice). You have an idea of when you have a good race car, but you don’t really know until green flag drops if you have a car capable of winning. Guys who race there six or seven times a year, they have a better grasp on that.”

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