FORT KENT, Maine – While the rest of the ACT Late Model Tour world eagerly anticipates a two-man battle for the 2012 championship this weekend at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y., Austin Theriault is quietly preparing for his own run at the title.
The third-year ACT driver sits third in the standings, just 38 points out of the series lead with only the Fall Foliage 200 this this Saturday, October 6, remaining on the schedule.
“We know what works, and we know what can happen in these races,” said Theriault, 18, of Fort Kent, Maine. “You can’t put yourself out of it and close the door on a championship – you have to be prepared to open the door if it opens. We’re going in with the mindset of trying to win the race this weekend and then seeing where the points shake out.”
The Brad Keselowski Racing development driver has experience with wild point swings. His victory at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in July cut 26 points out of his deficit in the ACT standings at the time.
“This kind of track is Austin’s strong suit, I think,” said crew chief Mickey Green of the half-mile Airborne Speedway. “We’ve figured something out on the longer, flatter tracks. It’s got some banking, but when you compare it to a place like a Thunder Road, we’re better on an Airborne type of track. We’re excited about this weekend. I don’t see why we can’t have a good run and be in contention for the the win, and when you look at what happened at Beech Ridge, you never know where the points will end up.”
Theriault’s best runs this season have been on the largest tracks the series visits. He’s finished in the Top-5 at Devil’s Bowl Speedway, Sanair Super Speedway, Oxford Plains Speedway and Beech Ridge – all tracks that are flat and longer than one-third mile in length.
To date, he is the only ACT Late Model Tour driver to record Top-10 finishes in all nine points races this season.
“We tend to run good at the flat tracks, and I would call Airborne a big, flat track,” Theriault said. “It’s kind of like Sanair, but your missing the tri-oval. We’re taking the same setup we took to Sanair, and hopefully it will work out. I’m pretty confident in what we’re going to bring.”
So he heads into the final 200 laps of the season with one eye on scoring a second career ACT victory and the other on scoring an upset in the ACT standings.
“We’re going into the weekend focusing more on getting our last win a points-counting race for the year,” Theriault said. “Mathematically, the championship is still very possible – but the chances and probability are kind of against us right now. The only thing we can do is go in there with a lot less pressure than say, (leaders Wayne Helliwell Jr. and Brian Hoar), because the championship will come down to the wire for those guys.
“For us, it’s about maybe taking some chances we wouldn’t otherwise take and trying to come out of there with a win.”