LOUDON, N.H. – Austin Theriault of Fort Kent, Maine, competed in two races as part of the Sylvania 300 weekend’s “Short Track Saturday” at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday, September 22, and left both feeling good about the efforts.
As the 2012 “Maine Young Guns” winner, Theriault made his first career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East start in the No. 38 Go Green Racing Ford Fusion, qualifying 23rd on Friday and finishing 19th in the G-Oil 100 on Saturday. Less than an hour later, he hopped into his family-owned No. 57 Pelletier Ford Ford Fusion for the fourth annual Bond Auto ACT Invitational and drove from 36th in the handicapped starting grid to finish 15th in the 50-lap event.
“We definitely didn’t have the finishes that you want when you come racing,” the 18-year-old Brad Keselowski Racing development driver said. “But overall it was still a good day and the guys on both teams worked hard all weekend to do the best job we could.”
Theriault gained 20 spots in the ACT Invitational by the midway point of the event featuring ACT Late Model Tour, ACT Castrol Series and weekly Late Model competitors from around New England and Canada. But having had to come so far through the field left him with very little left in the car in the late stages of the race.
He raced as high as 10th with 10 laps to go before dropping back to 15th in traffic at the checkered flag.
“It’s so hard to pass here, especially starting 36th,” Theriault said. “It’s just so hard to keep your momentum up on the bottom. It seems like everybody lines up on the outside on the long runs, and you really can’t go anywhere. You have to be a lot faster if you’re going to get by.
“There were times I felt like I was in the gas two or three car lengths earlier than the guy in front of me, but it’s just so hard to keep the momentum up.”
In the G-Oil 100, Theriault made two pit stops early for handling adjustments and surrendered track position in the process. But as the attrition started to pile up around him, he avoided several mid-pack accidents and finished inside the Top-20 in the 36-car field.
Theriault deemed the day a success and said he enjoyed the opportunity to make his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East start.
“We knew that our main goal was to bring it home in one piece and stay on the lead lap and get some time in the car, so we did what we probably needed to in that ride,” he said. “We got a Top-20 finish and stayed out of trouble. The guys worked hard to get that ride ready, and all the guys that made it possible have to be thanked for that.
“I actually had a fun time racing the car itself. It presented a challenge, and even though we never quite figured it out completely, I wouldn’t mind trying it again sometime and see if we can have better results. Everybody worked hard (Saturday), but it just didn’t work out.”
Theriault returns to competition next weekend at Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vt., for the 50th annual Peoples United Milk Bowl.