BRADLEY, Maine — Deane Smart would love to win a Late Model points championship.
He has won several titles at Hermon’s Speedway 95 and Unity Raceway, but there is room on his mantlepiece for his first Late Model championship.
And he has two chances to claim one.
He is currently leading the Late Model points at Unity Raceway, where he races on Friday night, and he is fourth at Speedway 95, where he runs on Saturday nights.
“We’ve had a pretty good summer so far,” said Hermon native Smart. “We had a couple of bad weeks at the beginning but since then, we’ve run in the top three almost every week at both tracks. The car has been going really good.”
Smart has a 102-point lead over Liberty’s Ryan St. Clair in the Unity standings, and he trails Ellsworth’s Andy Saunders by 80 points in the Speedway 95 points. He is just two points behind third place Andrew McLaughlin of Harrington.
He acknowledges that racing back-to-back nights is “a lot of work.
“We were only going to run a few nights at Unity… the big races. But we want to help out Jere Humphrey so we’ve been there every night,” said Smart, a 1987 Old Town High School graduate.
Humphrey is leasing the track from Ralph and Nancy Nason for the first time this year.
Smart said Unity Raceway and Speedway 95 have similar rules packages so he races his same Chevy Monte Carlo at both tracks.
“All you have to do is change 50 pounds. Unity allows your car to be 2,850 pounds — it’s 2,900 at Speedway 95,” explained Smart. “I normally [make up the difference] with gas. After I finish racing at 95, I don’t fill up the gas tank. I have a 22-gallon tank so there is plenty of gas left after I race at 95.”
He figures he uses six or seven gallons of gas to race and “gas weighs about eight pounds a gallon.”
He said the tracks are different but “you don’t have to make too many adjustments on your car from one track to the other.
“[Speedway 95] is pretty much a circle. Unity has a couple of straightaways and the corners are a lot tighter,” said Smart.
He has been racing for 20 years and figures he has won championships in every class but the Late Models and any four-cylinder classes, which he has never run.
Smart has one race car but his boss at RL Sales & Service in Milford, Bob Leighton, has provided him with a backup in case he wrecks.
Smart has also been pleased with his son debut in racing.
Brad, 20, is currently third in points in the Sportsman class in his first year of racing.
“He had never been in a race car. We built him one this winter, and he has really surprised me. Next year, we’ll put him in a nice car,” said the proud father.
Deane Smart is hoping to finally annex that Late Model title this year.
“It would be nice to win both but winning one would be good. It would give me that Late Model championship I’ve been looking for,” said Deane.
Theriault staying busy
Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault, a developmental driver for Brad Keselowski Racing, had a busy seven days last week.
He had three races and finished in the top five in all three.
He finished fifth in the IWK 250 at Riverside International Speedway in Antigonish, Nova Scotia, on Saturday, July 20; notched a fourth-place finish in the 40th annual TD Bank 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway the next night and took home another fifth at the ARCA/CRA Super Series Night of Stars 100 at Lucas Oil Raceway in Salem, Ind., last Friday night.
“We had a decent three-race run,” said Theriault on Tuesday. “I felt like the cars, for the most part, were capable of contending for wins. At the Oxford 250, we ran out of time at the end.”
It was his third straight top-four finish at the TD Bank 250 as he had a pair of thirds the previous two years when it was a Late Model event.
The races at Riverside and Lucas Oil Raceway represented the first time he had raced at either track.
“The Lucas Oil track was flat like Maine tracks, but it was a lot faster — potentially close to twice as fast. And the grooves were a little different. It was harder to pass than it is at a lot of other tracks,” said Theriault. “Coming to new tracks is a challenge. You have to adapt quickly and make changes quickly. You have to stay up on the track conditions. You try to get comfortable in the car but you also want the car to have speed when you need it. There’s a balance between the two of them.”
He now has a string of nine straight top-five finishes in Super Late Model cars and six consecutive top-six showings for BK Racing.
“That’s encouraging. Wins are always better than top fives, but bringing the race car home in one piece is also important. You’re able to build a foundation and a program for the next race. You aren’t wearing your crew guys out by making them stay up late repairing your car,” said Theriault.
Next week will be another busy one for him.
He will run a 150-lap Pro All-Stars Series North division race at Autodrome Chaudiere in Quebec next Tuesday night with Sprint Cup star Kyle Busch included in the field. Then he will go to New Hampshire for the Friday wedding of his sister, Brittany, to American-Canadian Tour driver Joey Polewarczyk Jr. and, finally, he will fly to Georgia on Saturday morning for the Slack Auto Parts World Crown 300 at Gresham Motorsports Park on Saturday night.
“It’s going to be a tight schedule but, hopefully, the weather will be good and the flights will go off on time,” said Theriault.