Fort Kent’s Theriault eyes Spud 150 Late Model feature repeat

By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff
Posted Sept. 02, 2010, at 11:49 p.m.

   A check for $3,000 will be go to the winner of Saturday’s second annual Spud 150 Late Model race at Caribou’s Spud Speedway.

Racing begins at 4.

Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault will return to defend his title.

Theriault is in his rookie year in the American-Canadian Tour’s Late Model series, running ninth in points despite missing two of the 10 races. He is leading the rookie of the year standings, five points ahead of Brad Babb.

Babb has run all 10 races.

Theriault has also run three Pro All-Stars Series Super Late Model races.

Track owner Troy Haney expects Theriault and Liberty’s Josh St. Clair to be two of the top contenders along with “the local guys. Jerry Williams should be right in the mix as well.”

Limestone’s Williams is leading the Late Model points standings at Spud Speedway by one point over Fort Fairfield’s Tharren MacDougal. Presque Isle’s Jeff Willette trails Williams by nine points and Connor’s Milo Haney is 24 points back.

MacDougal, Willette and Haney could also pocket the $3,000.

“I hope the weather holds out,” said Theriault. “It would be nice to defend my title. It’s always nice going back to the track you started at. There’s nothing like coming to see the fans and the people who have supported you and helped you get to the point where you’re at now.”

The Spud 150 has a unique format.

It is split into two 75-lap races with the winner of the second 75-lapper taking home the $3,000.

Heat races will determine the starting grid for the first 75-lap segment. After that concludes, drivers will get to change tires and work on their cars. The winner of the first segment will get a bonus.

Then there will be a drawing and the field will be inverted based on the number drawn.

If 15 cars are on the lead lap after the first 75-lapper, the numbers 0-through-15 will be placed into a bucket and the field will be inverted based on the number drawn.

For example, if the number four is drawn, the top four cars will start at the back of the pack, even behind the cars that weren’t on the lead lap, and the fifth-place car will start on the pole. The car that won the first segment will start last.

The only time the field wouldn’t be inverted is if the number zero is drawn. In that case the cars would start the way they finished the first segment.

“We like to see the fast cars make their way up through the pack. It makes for good racing,” said Haney. “And they can get to the front because our track has a couple of [fast] grooves so they can race side-by-side.”

“It’s interesting. It gives the other guys a chance,” said Theriault. “And if they weren’t dialed in over the first 35-40 laps [in the first segment], they can decide what to do to change the car [during the intermission].

“It also makes it interesting for the fans. They get to see what’s happening on the track during the break,” he said.

Haney said the format is “a little different spin from what everybody else does. It’s our little Oxford 250 or Daytona 500.”

Second place is worth $1,500 and third place is good for $1,000. The fourth-place finisher will earn $900, fifth place will pay $800 and so on. Every driver who finishes 11th or lower will earn $200.

There were 23 cars in the race last year and 20 have pre-registered this year.

Haney said he has had a good first season at the track.

“The car counts are improving all the time,” he said.

He also said the crowds have been good with consecutive weekends of more than 1,000 fans in the grandstands for the first-ever visit by the Pro All-Stars Series tour two weekends ago and the Day of Destruction demolition derby along with other specialty races last weekend.

    Theriault to race at Loudon

The 16-year-old Theriault is back at Fort Kent Community High School where he is a junior and is excited about landing a spot in the starting grid for the ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on the weekend of the Sylvania 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

The 60-lap ACT race will be on Saturday, Sept. 18, with the Cup race the next day.

He qualified from among 80 drivers who tested for the 43 starting spots Aug. 17-18. It was his first time on the track.

“Everything has just fallen together this year,” said Theriault. “At the beginning of the season, we never expected to be where we are right now. It’s kind of been a dream [come true] for all of us, not just me. Everyone has to be encouraged for the rest of this year and next year.”

He said the track was “very fast compared to where I usually run” and the 1.058-mile oval was the longest track he has raced on.

“The track was real smooth,” he added. “And the speeds are twice what I usually drive at.”

He said experiencing different tracks is a valuable learning tool and the testing went well.

“At the end of the first day, we were 10th to 15th quickest,” he said.

He not only will race at Spud Speedway on Saturday, he will drive to Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, Vt., on Sunday for an ACT race, the Bond Auto Labor Day Classic, beginning at 1:30 p.m.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/09/02/sports/fort-kentrsquos-theriault-eyes-spud-150-late-model-feature-repeat-2/ printed on September 23, 2014