LOUDON, N.H. — Austin Theriault learned a lot from his previous trip to New Hampshire Motor Speedway. And it showed.
The Fort Kent teenager passed 30 cars in the final 50-lap segment of the American-Canadian Tour All-Star Challenge to finish second Saturday evening.
“What an incredible day,” said Theriault, who finished fifth in the first 25-lap segment to post a seven-point total and finish second overall.
Drivers earn points for each segment based on their finishing positions. The winner gets one point, second gets two points and so on. The top 36 cars from the first race were inverted for the final portion. The lowest combined score wins the 75-lap All-Star Challenge.
Seven-time ACT Late Model champion Brian Hoar of Williston, Vt., was second in the first segment and won the second race by just half a car-length over Theriault to post the overall victory.
The 17-year-old Theriault made his Loudon debut in the ACT Invitational last fall, placing 30th.
“I think I learned to be a little more aggressive,” said Theriault. “If you’re in a pack of cars, you can’t dive bomb it too much and get into the back of a guy. You have to get the nose down.”
He also gave credit to his family-run team.
“I think the car was the biggest difference. Half of it was me and half of it was the car,” he said.
Theriault’s crew chief Mickey Green of West Paris was impressed with his driver.
“He did a great job. It took him probably 10 laps into the second segment before he figured out how to drive it in (to the corners). But he really got it,” said Green.
“We didn’t know we’d be running this car here until about a week ago,” said Green, referring to Theriault parting ways with Rick Paya Motorsports. “We just worked over 80 hours on it.”
It was Hoar’s fifth win of the season but first ever at NHMS.
“This is really big,” said Paya, who is Hoar’s car owner, crew chief and spotter. “This is our Daytona 500 for sure. I’ve won at a lot of other places, but this is really special.”
“We had an awesome car all week. Just incredible,” said Hoar.
Eddie MacDonald of Rowley, Mass., won the first race and was leading with 14 laps remaining in the second race when his ignition failed under caution. He was 18th overall.
“I think Eddie and I were the class of the field most of the day,” said Hoar. “It’s too bad what happened. I had run Eddie down and I was looking forward to a good restart.”
Patrick Laperle of St-Denis, Quebec, was third. Brad Leighton of Center Harbor, N.H., and Joey Laquerre of East Montpelier, Vt., rounded out the top five.
Ricky Rolfe of Albany Township equaled his finish from September with seventh.
“We definitely had a good car,” said Rolfe, who was 16th in the first segment and seventh in the second. “I love coming here. It’s fun, it’s fast.”
Pittston’s Ben Ashline had a rough welcoming to the Magic Mile.
“Guys were looking four wide on us and we all kind of screwed up and I was the guy on the outside. Wham!” said Ashline. He was 25th in the first race and 27th in the final to place 28th overall. “(With) concrete in the rim, you know it was a good one.”
“This whole ordeal is cool as hell,” Ashline added. “I’ve never been to a track this size and I’ve never been in a place this prestigious.”
Other Maine finishers included Frenchville native Shawn Martin of Turner (17th), Brad Babb of Windham (21st), Dave Farrington Jr. of Jay (27th), Turner’s Glen Luce (33rd) and Rowland Robinson Jr. of Birch Harbor (41st). Strong’s Scott Luce led six laps in the final segment before retiring; he was 40th overall.
The ACT Late Model tour next heads to Oxford Plains Speedway on Saturday for a 150-lap race.