Austin Theriault of Fort Kent, Maine, will try and etch his name in the history books when he heads to Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vt., for the 50 annual People’s United Milk Bowl on Sunday, September 30. The 18-year-old Brad Keselowski Racing development driver has qualified twice for the Milk Bowl in as many attempts, and he’s hoping that the AT Racing No. 57 Pelletier Ford Ford Fusion will be in contention for the overall win in the unique, three-segment event. Theriault has finished inside the Top-10 on both ACT Late Model Tour events at Thunder Road this season, including a fifth-place finish in the Labor Day Classic 200 on Sunday, September 2.
WHO: Austin Theriault, Fort Kent, Maine
TEAM: AT Racing No. 57 Pelletier Ford Ford Fusion
CREW CHIEF: Mickey Green, South Paris, Maine
BEST CAREER MILK BOWL FINISH: 9 (October 2011)
MOST RECENT MILK BOWL FINISH: 9 (October 2011)
WHAT: 50 annual People’s United Milk Bowl
WHERE: Thunder Road International Speedbowl, Barre, Vt. (.25-mile banked oval)
WHEN: Friday, September 28 – Practice, 11 a.m.; Saturday, September 29 – Practice, 9:30 a.m.; Qualifying, 1:30 p.m.; Sunday, September 30 – Race, 1:30 p.m.
DID YOU KNOW?
Austin Theriault has qualified in each of his two attempts to make a Milk Bowl starting field.
Austin Theriault drove from 29th on the starting grid to finish fifth in his most recent effort at Thunder Road International Speedbowl, the Labor Day Classic 200.
Austin Theriault will run the Winchester 400 in Winchester, Indiana, in a Brad Keselowski Racing Super Late Model on October 14.
Austin Theriault is third in the ACT Late Model Tour standings with one points race remaining.
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
AUSTIN THERIAULT, Driver of the AT Racing No. 57 Pelletier Ford Ford Fusion, On the 50th running of the People’s United Milk Bowl this weekend: “We’re excited for it, but Thunder Road’s been a love-hate relationship for us. It’s a very unique track, and it puts on an exciting show. But we’ve yet to really break out and set the world on fire over there. It’s going to be a big weekend – it’s a big weekend for us, but it’s still somewhat of an unknown. Every time we go there, we’re not sure exactly what we’ve got.
“We’ve got good equipment – but it’s about being able to put practice, qualifying and a race together. We’ve always had a good car in practice, gone out for qualifying and been thrown a curveball. We’re just going to go out and get comfortable. The ($50,000 to win all three segments) bonus is going to add a lot of drama to the race. There will be no mercy out there, definitely.”
On having a full day of practice on Friday at Thunder Road before qualifying day on Saturday: “I generally feel like the more time we have, the better off we’ll be. I know there are circumstances where a team might have too much time and end up adjusting themselves right out, but there’s something about the time we have and how we’re able to use it as a team, and I think the results show that.
“It’s just about going out and getting a feel. Not over-thinking, not over-adjusting things. The track does change a lot. The pressure may be off this weekend – but it’s still a big event. We’re taking the same mindset we always do.”
On how a driver and team approach the race knowing that they’ll be racing in traffic throughout the day: “Other than the mindset of getting through traffic and being able to beat the guys in front of you – it’s about getting in the right holes, putting yourself in the right position. You know you’re going to be in positions you wouldn’t normally put yourself in and be comfortable. I’ve never put one together yet in the Milk Bowl, so I know I don’t have the magic formula.”
On the $50,000 bonus being offered to any driver who can win all three segments: “It adds some drama to the race. It’s a really hard job to win all three – it hasn’t been done a whole lot, and the last guy to do it was in 1986.
“All I know is that I’d hate to be the guy leading with five to go in the final segment, knowing the second place guy has already won the first two segments.”
MICKEY GREEN, Crew chief on the AT Racing No. 57 Pelletier Ford Ford Fusion, On how a team prepares for such a unique event like the Milk Bowl: “It’s all about strategy – do you play conservative and try and get a Top-3 in every segment, or do you go out and try to win the ones you can? I think you’ve got to be in single-digits (with your final point total) to win it. You might not have to win the segments but if you get three thirds, that’s a good day.
“It’s a lot about setup, because you know you’re going to be racing in traffic all day. We’re going to have to practice in traffic a lot on Friday and Saturday morning. We’re going to go to a Saturday night short-track type of thinking, not a 150-lap, 200-lap way of thinking. That’s a big step on my shoulders and Austin’s shoulders.”
The ACT Late Model Tour wraps up the 2012 season with the Fall Foliage 200 at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y., on Saturday, October 6… Austin Theriault finished fifth in the event in 2011.