FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – 11.27.11
CONCORD, N.C. – Austin Theriault finished 12th in the PASS-sanctioned Mason-Dixon Meltdown 200 at Concord Motorsports Park on Saturday, wrapping up an impressive debut with Brad Keselowski Racing (BKR) this month.
Theriault made his first start with the team in the crash-marred World Crown 300 at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Ga., two weeks earlier.
“The opportunity to race for BKR is something not a lot of people can say they have,” said Theriault, 17, of Fort Kent, Maine. “Just being able to show your talent on the southern stage is something a lot of people want to be able to do. Anything we can do in the future with (Gary Crooks and Wayne Setteringon) at BKR will be great for us.
“Everything's looking pretty decent right now. We came out of these two races looking like there's going to be an ongoing future relationship. I'm not sure about specifics right now – it's too soon to know anything for certain – but I'm excited about whatever the future holds.”
Theriault made just his fourth career Super Late Model start in the Mason-Dixon Meltdown 200 and qualified seventh out of 35 cars on the fast, challenging half-mile tri-oval at Concord Motorsports Park. He ran with the leaders inside the Top-10 until losing track position following an early pit stop for adjustments, where a one-groove race track and a long green-flag run made it difficult to get back to the front.
BKR crew chief Gary Crooks said the No. 29 Brad Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation Dodge team was impressed with Theriault's performance.
“We're all racers and we all want to win, obviously,” Crooks said. “But Austin really did a great job. He's learning the cars, learning how to give feedback, all of that stuff. He held his own out there, and we were really happy with the job he did for us.”
Theriault first joined BKR for the World Crown 300 in mid-November, qualifying 19th in a stellar field. An early wreck not of his doing took him out of contention in that race – but his performance in both practice and qualifying before the green flag earned him a second shot in the BKR ride.
Theriault, who finished third in the ACT Late Model Tour standings in 2011, said there has been a learning curve in moving to Super Late Models.
“It's been different,” Theriault said. “Going from Late Models to Super Late Models, there are some adjustments you have to make. They actually drive pretty similarly – but there's different learning curves. There's a whole lot more you can do with a Super Late Model as a driver, in terms of giving feedback about what the car is doing.
“Really, it's all about giving feedback to Gary (Crooks) and all the guys on the BKR team, and just jelling in with the team at this point. Everything's clicked pretty well. It's been a great experience. I've learned a lot.”
Finishing 12th and on the lead lap at Concord was a big step in the right direction for Theriault.
“The race didn't quite turn out the way everybody had expected – but from practice to qualifying and even into the race, everything seemed to go pretty well,” Theriault said. “You can always look back at what you could have done different during a race, but overall – for how tough that track was – we came out pretty well with the car in one piece.
“It was important to go out and finish the race. Finishing great is a plus, but what is it they say? You've first got to finish before you can finish first, right? So I'm happy with how things have gone.”
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