SOUTH PARIS, Maine – Austin Theriault opened the 2012 ACT Late Model Tour season with a third-place finish in the NH Governor's Cup 150 at Lee USA Speedway on Sunday, April 15 – giving the 18-year-old driver from Fort Kent, Maine, his seventh straight Top-10 finish dating back to last July.
Crew chief Mickey Green of Crazy Horse Racing was thrilled to get the year off to such a great start.
“We're really happy to come out of there with third,” said Green, who has served as Theriault's crew chief since 2010. “The car was really good, and Austin did a great job.”
Theriault qualified 19th for the Governor's Cup and moved into the Top-10 before the halfway mark. A pit stop for fresh tires following a long green-flag run midway through the event helped the No. 57 Pelletier Ford Ford Fusion gain the track position that put the leaders in sight.
A rash of restarts in the closing laps of the event, however, halted his forward march. At the checkered flag, Theriault had gained 16 spots from his starting spot – more than any other driver in the 28-car field.
“I had a really fast car. The guys worked their butts off all day,” Theriault said. “There were five or six cautions in a row, and that was bad for us. It took us five or six laps – sometimes longer, depending how long the caution was – for the tires to come back in. By that time, (leaders Brian Hoar and Wayne Helliwell) had put some distance on us.”
In a car built by Crazy Horse Racing, Theriault finished third in the final 2011 ACT Late Model Tour standings. The driver believes they will be in the championship hunt yet again this season with the No. 57.
“It'll be tight all year (atop the standings),” Theriault said. “The way the Top-4 or Top-5 was (on Sunday), I think it's going to be a snapshot of how the year's going to go. It's going to be really tight, and if we can run consistent, we'll be right there.”
Theriault credits Crazy Horse Racing with taking him from promising rookie in 2010 to title contender in less than three years time.
“They're really there for us. They give us a good foundation to work with, a good solid foundation,” he said. “It's up to us to make use of that foundation. They're great people, and they're really dedicated to what they do. They give the shirt of their back to all their customers – anybody would tell you that.”
“I wouldn't wanted to be driving anybody else's ACT cars.”
Other notable drivers in Crazy Horse equipment at Lee USA Speedway included Quinny Welch of Lancaster, N.H., who rebounded to finish 14th after a disappointing day in practice on Saturday. Luke Hinkley of Claremont, N.H., finished 16th, while Quebec driver and former Castrol Series champion Donald Theetge started inside the Top-10 and finished 20th after a broken swaybar sidelined him early. Mike Kennison, also of Lancaster, was one of the 28 drivers – out of 41 total entries – to qualify for the race.
The ACT Late Model Tour next heads to Thunder Road International Speedbowl for the Merchants Bank 150 on Sunday, April 29.
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