SCARBOROUGH, Maine – Austin Theriault returned for some home cooking and ended up feasting with a dominating performance in the PASS North Southern Maine Chrysler Dodge Jeep 300 at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Theriault unofficially led 192 of the 300 laps for his fourth career PASS-sanctioned victory and the second PASS North Series win of his career.
“I’m kind of speechless right now, but this is huge. This is really a huge win for us,” Theriault said following the longest race on the PASS schedule. “But I’m doing fine. I’ve been more tired before.”
Theriault won the pole during Saturday’s qualifying, but he was content to log laps until Lap 90 when he inherited the top spot. He led all the way until a lap 169 pit stop – emerging first from pit road with four fresh tires and fuel. It took him only a handful of laps after a restart to regain the race lead.
From there, track position became key for the AT Racing No. 57 Daigle Oil/Pelletier Ford Ford Fusion. Theriault lost the lead for another brief stretch after being trapped in the low groove of the .333-mile race track, but a restart on lap 204 – in which the Brad Keselowski Racing development driver restarted on the outside of the front row – handed him the lead he would not relinquish again.
He held off DJ Shaw on a restart with 12 laps to go and sailed off to a five car-length victory.
“These guys are some of the best short-track racers in the country,” Theriault said of the dramatic finish. “It does make you nervous on the final restart with them behind you. I did have to run hard at the end.”
Theriault now has two career wins at Beech Ridge, after winning an ACT Late Model Tour race at the track in July of 2012. The win Sunday was the longest win of the 19-year-old’s career – his first in a race of more than 150 laps.
“First of all, I’ve got to thank the Lord, and second of all, the crew worked hard all weekend on the car,” Theriault said. “I’ve got to say, it was probably the easiest 300 laps I’ve ever driven. The car was just that awesome.
“I’ve got to thank Daigle Oil, Pelletier Ford, Southern Maine Chrysler Dodge Jeep, and especially Scott and Vickie Mulkern. They really helped us out a lot. This is a big win for us.”