Brad Keselowski Racing development driver Austin Theriault of Fort Kent, Maine, makes his 2012 season debut in the CRA-sanctioned Speedfest 200 at Watermelon Capital Speedway in Cordele, Ga., on Sunday, January 29. Theriault is making his third career start in the BKR No. 29 Checkered Flag Foundation Dodge Super Late Model after two races in the seat for the team late in 2011, but it will mark Theriault's first career appearance at Watermelon Capital. The .375-mile banked oval plays host to Speedfest for the first time in 2012, after NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Busch won back-to-back Speedfest 200's at Lanier National Speedway in 2009 and 2010 and Chase Elliott won last year's event.
WHO: Austin Theriault, Fort Kent, Maine
TEAM: Brad Keselowski Racing No. 29 Checkered Flag Foundation Dodge
CREW CHIEF: Gary Crooks, Mooresville, N.C.
BEST CAREER SPEEDFEST 200 FINISH: N/A
LAST RACE AT WATERMELON CAPITAL SPEEDWAY: N/A
WHAT: CRA Speedfest 200
WHERE: Watermelon Capital Speedway, Cordele, Ga. (.375-mile D-oval)
WHEN: Qualifying, 4 p.m., Saturday, January 28; Race, 2 p.m., Sunday, January, 29
DID YOU KNOW?
- Austin Theriault competed in two races for Brad Keselowski Racing in 2011, posting a best finish of 12th in the PASS-sanctioned Mason-Dixon Meltdown at Concord Motorsports Park in Concord, N.C., in November.
- Austin Theriault finished third in the final ACT Late Model Tour standings in 2011, his highest career finish, on the strength of six consecutive Top-5 finishes to close out the season.
- Crew chief Gary Crooks also serves as a PASS North Series crew chief for Mulkern Racing, which won two races as a team in 2011.
- Austin Theriault celebrated his 18th birthday this week.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
AUSTIN THERIAULT, Driver of the BKR No. 29 Checkered Flag Foundation Dodge, On getting the 2012 season started this week at Speedfest 200: “We're definitely excited to get things moving forward this year. Once again, we're going into uncharted waters, so to speak. It's a different track and a different car for me, but I'm confident that we're with the right people this year and we'll get some finishes.
“Hopefully, we'll be able to open some eyes and build on what we've started.”
On his goals for the weekend: “It's kind of hard to say exactly what's good and what's bad, but I think a good weekend would be just to go out and qualify. I'm confident we'll get qualified, but it's a big race and there's some good guys that will be there. The main thing will be staying out of trouble and being there at the end of the race.
“I don't really know much about the track. I've seen some photos and videos of it. It seems medium-banked and fairly fast for its size. It's just another thing we've got to overcome, and I'm pretty confident that we will. It's the same thing we talked about when we started with (the ACT Late Model Tour) – it's new tracks and building new experiences.”
On having already worked with BKR at the end of 2011: “It's sort of an advantage. You're not going into it not knowing exactly who you're working with. I know the guys, and I know who they are. We didn't spend a whole lot of time together last year, but once we get there this weekend we can focus on the task at hand and not have to worry about fitting in and building up the chemistry.”
GARY CROOKS, Crew chief for the BKR No. 29 Checkered Flag Foundation Dodge, On the challenge this weekend presents: “I don't think it's going to be any easier right at this moment for us. It's still a new situation, really. We've been to a couple races, but we've got a whole new car, we've got a new track that Austin's never been to and a track I've only been to once in the last seven or eight years.
“I look at it as our first race to build on, really.”
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