ARCA series points leader Austin Theriault of Fort Kent notched his third victory of the season Friday night when held off Zane Smith at the Montgomery Ward 200 at Madison International Speedway in Wisconsin.
Theriault qualified third and was among six drivers who held the lead at one point in the race on the half-mile track.
His crew continually improved the No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Toyota which enabled him to lead the final 35 laps and take the checkered flag.
Theriault had his hands full with Smith and Christian Eckes in the closing laps.
There was a caution with 10 laps to go but, on the restart, Theriault was able to pull away from Eckes, who had nearly caught him when the caution flag came out, and stay ahead of the hard-charging Smith. Theriault crossed the finish line two car-lengths ahead of Smith.
“I think that last caution saved us,” Theriault told Autoweek. “The 15 (Eckes) caught us and I missed my line a couple times. I’m not sure if we could have held him off. But the caution allowed our tires to cool down and we got going again.”
Eckes dropped back to fifth.
Smith said he caught the “left-front corner in traffic coming to the checkered flag, racing for the win. We could have timed that lap a little better but, other than that, I think we did just about everything we could do.”
Theriault credited his team for the win.
“We don’t always have the fastest car in the beginning, but this team races smart. We were good when it counted,” said Theriault. “You gotta’ take what the car gives you. We lost positions at the beginning but we stayed consistent and we didn’t drive over our heads. We kept ourselves in position the whole race and went when we could.”
On his Twitter account, Theriault wrote that he is, “Very thankful for another awesome weekend and a team that’s given me the opportunity to compete for wins every race. They deserve this.”
Theriault now has two wins and a second in his last four races and, on the season, he has seven top-fives in nine races including the series-leading three wins. Nobody else has more than one win.
The 23-year-old Theriault now has a 175-point lead over Dalton Sargeant in the points race. Sargeant finished sixth.
The next ARCA series race will be the Fans with Benefits 150 at Iowa Speedway on July 8. That will be the 10th of 20 races on the schedule.