April 13, 2013

Local Motorsports: Just 19, he's gone far from Fort Kent

By Paul Betit pbetit@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Austin Theriault has moved to North Carolina, but that doesn't mean he's done racing in Maine.

The 19-year-old from Fort Kent is scheduled to drive a Super Late Model in 16 races as a developmental driver for the Brad Keselowski Racing team, but he also is scheduled to come north to run six races in Maine.

"We're not running a full tour for points," Theriault said. "What we did was we picked and chose which races we felt (where) we're going to get the most exposure."

When driving for BKR, Theriault will run races in the PASS South tour, Super Southern Series and the Champion Racing Association tour in the Midwest.

"Because I run so much down here (in North Carolina) in the Super Late Model, I felt I needed more seat time in that type of car in order to continue to develop and grow as a driver," Theriault said.

In his first PASS South race last month, Theriault led a 29-car field across the finish line in the South Carolina Clash at Dillon Motor Speedway.

Last Saturday night he finished ninth among 31 drivers in the first Southern Super Series race of the season for Super Late Models at historic Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville in Tennessee.

Theriault made the move south from his hometown in Aroostook County two months ago.

"It was definitely an adjustment, but just like any kid who (has) graduated from high school, you're trying to figure out what your life is going to be like," he said. "It is a change but I feel like I've acclimated pretty well now. I've got a good group of people that I work with and I'm looking forward to the rest of the season."

Theriault hasn't completely cut his ties to Maine racing.

He will drive a family-owned SLM in six races in Maine, including the TD Bank Oxford 250, three PASS North races at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway and two PASS North races at Oxford Plains, starting with the season-opening 150-lap event April 21.

Last weekend, Theriault was named the Maine Vintage Race Car Association's Driver of the Year for 2012.

Last season, he posted an ACT Late Model win at Beech Ridge in July and a PASS North series victory in the season finale at Oxford Plains Speedway in October.

He also posted his second consecutive third-place finish in the prestigious Oxford 250.

RACING CONTINUES Saturday afternoon at the renamed Wiscasset Speedway.

The three-eighth-mile track opened for its regular schedule of auto racing last Saturday after nearly three years of dormancy.

"We were thrilled with what we had and that people braved the cold," said Vanessa Jordan, who bought the track last summer with her husband, Richard.

In all, 46 cars raced in five divisions on opening day.

Of that total, 21 cars raced as part of the NELCAR Legends tour. The other 25 cars were spread over the Pro Stock, Super Stocks, Thunder 4's and the 4-cylinder Pro Stock racing divisions.

"We are not at all discouraged," Vanessa Jordan said. "It was a good shakedown cruise."

Racing starts at 1 p.m. on Saturday in the Late Model, Outlaw Minis, Mini-Trucks and Strictly Street divisions.

In addition, the 4-cylinder Enduros will race 10 laps in reverse gear.

REID LANPHER, a 14-year-old driver from Manchester, also is making his mark out of state this spring.

Last Saturday night, Lanpher finished third in the second half of the Dirty Dozen Cup Twin 100s for Late Model Stocks at the Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, S.C.

Lanpher, who also is scheduled to drive in the PASS North's season opening race for Super Late Models at Oxford Plains next weekend, moved up to drive full-size cars after spending last season racing in NELCAR's Legends tour.

ACT WILL kick off its season this weekend at Lee USA Speedway in Lee, N.H.

The regional tour's Late Model Sportsmen are scheduled to practice Saturday at 2:20 p.m.

Qualifying heats are set for 1:30 p.m. Sunday with the 150-lap final starting at 4 p.m.

The 14-race tour will make one stop in Maine this summer on Aug. 17 at Beech Ridge.

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

pbetit@pressherald.com

Twitter: PaulBetitPPH

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