CARIBOU, Maine — Austin Theriault added a nugget to his already memorable season Sunday afternoon.
The 18-year-old from Fort Kent, who is third in points in the American Canadian Tour’s Late Model cars and also runs selected Super Late Model races for Brad Keselowski Racing, returned to his home track and took the checkered flag in the fourth annual Last Chance Motorsports 150 at Spud Speedway.
Theriault was supposed to race Saturday night in the ACT’s nonpoints race, the Showdown at Chaudiere 200 in Vallee-Jonction, Quebec, but it was postponed due to rain and rescheduled for Sunday afternoon.
That left Theriault pondering a decision.
“But I was committed to [Spud Speedway] and the sponsors. The sponsors help us fund the [Austin Theriault Racing] race team,” he said.
He was also eager to return to his home track where he began his career.
Theriault won the first Spud Speedway 150 as a 15-year-old.
“I wanted to go back and show support for the track. I had heard that they have been struggling so I just wanted to put on a good race for the fans and end the year on a good note,” said Theriault.
Sunday’s race concluded the race season at Spud Speedway.
Theriault and his race team drove four hours late Saturday night from Quebec to Fort Kent after the ACT race had been postponed.
He said his car was “loose” in the early stages of the race but a number of cautions, including a pre-arranged competition caution, allowed his team to make adjustments to his car and it paid off as he took the lead halfway through the race and held on.
“We started in the back but we were lucky because the cautions bunched the field up,” said Theriault. “The car was good on long runs but some of the other cars were a little better than we were on the short runs.”
There were several late-race cautions which caused some anxious moments for Theriault on the restarts.
“There were probably three or four cautions in the final 10 laps,” he said.
“The more cautions that come out, the chances are higher that you’re going to screw up. It was a challenge. I could have spun my tires or miss a shift on the restarts or somebody could have gotten the jump on me or someone from behind could have lifted me off the ground.”
Any of those occurrences could have cost him the win.
“But we were OK on the restarts. We were good enough to hold them off,” said Theriault. “There was a lot of [stiff] competition. It was a nail-biter.”
He said defending two-time winner Shawn Martin of Frenchville “had a tire go down” during the race.
Mike Hopkins of Hermon finished second in the race and David Folsom of Skowhegan took third.
Theriault picked up his first ACT victory at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in Scarborough earlier this summer and said every win is satisfying.
“Every race we go to we like to win. But it doesn’t always happen so whenever things come together and you pull one off, it’s a good feeling,” said Theriault. “I’m happy to get another win for the team. They had a busy weekend. They worked real hard.”
He was also pleased to see a good turnout for the event.
“The grandstands looked full,” said Theriault, who pocketed $2,000 for the win along with some lap-leader money although he’s not sure how much lap money he made.
Theriault still has a busy September ahead.
He is heading to Iowa Speedway for Friday’s Iowa 150 Midwest American Speed Association race where he will be driving for Brad Keselowski Racing.
It will be the first time he has raced at the .875-mile tri-oval.
“I’m looking forward to it. It’s a different dynamic from short-track racing,” said Theriault. “It’s all about being smooth and staying in your groove. It’s a pretty fast track and it’s banked. You can generate some good speed there.”
Spud Speedway’s track is a third of a mile.
The following weekend, Sept. 22, Theriault will run the ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and make his debut in Old Orchard Beach native Archie St. Hilaire’s K and N Pro Series East car after winning the Maine Young Guns competition.