Fort Kent Driver Pulling Double Duty For BKR At Five Flags Speedway
PENSACOLA, Fla. – Looking to build on the momentum of his two best career Super Late Model finishes in his last two starts, Austin Theriault returns to the Brad Keselowski Racing No. 29 Checkered Flag Foundation Dodge Charger this weekend for the 45th annual Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla.
Theriault is attempting to make his first start in the prestigious end-of-the-season event. Practice begins on Thursday, while WXBM Pole Qualifying is slated for Friday night, November 30, with the Snowball Derby 300 on Sunday, December 2, at 2 p.m.
“We're going into it with a sense of confidence,” said Theriault, who will attempt to qualify for the Snowball Derby as well as Saturday night's Snowflake 100 for crate engine-powered Super Late Models. “We're not over-confident, but we have some confidence and the guys are working really hard at the shop. I spent the week down there before (the Governor's Cup 200 at New Smyrna Speedway), and it's definitely something they pour their heart out on and you can see the results at the track.
“I'm really proud to be driving for that team.”
Theriault has some experience in big open shows. He has finished third in each of the last two summers at the Oxford 250 at Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford, Maine. In his most recent Super Late Model start, he posted his first podium finish for BKR at the Governor's Cup 200 just a few weeks after winning a 150-lap PASS North Series event at Oxford Plains.
With more than 70 cars already entered in the Snowball Derby, including NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers Kyle Busch, David Ragan and Landon Cassill, qualifying takes on added significance this weekend. The Top-30 in time trials Friday lock in their Sunday starting spots.
“It's hard to really prepare yourself 100 percent for a big race like that,” said Theriault, who finished fifth in the Papa Johns 100 at Five Flags in April. “There's a lot of variables going into a race like that. You can prepare psychologically and make sure everything's in tip-top shape with the car and everything like that, but it's about trying to bring everything and not leave anything out on the table (during qualifying). If you do that, you're chances of making it are still somewhat slim, just because there are so many cars there.
“That's what you've got to go into the weekend thinking. As a driver, you don't want to leave anything out and you have to know your team is behind you 100 percent.”
Experience in a crate engine-powered Super Late Model will benefit Theriault in the Snowflake 100 on Saturday night. His victory in October at Oxford Plains Speedway came in a Super Late Model with a crate engine.
While he said that the Snowflake car is more of a “momentum car,” there is something to be gained by competing in both events this weekend. There's the added seat time that comes with extra practice sessions and a 100-lap race the night before the Snowball Derby 300. Five Flags Speedway, Theriault said, is a tricky animal.
“It's all about getting off the corners there,” Theriault said. “There's some grip at the track, but it's all about being able to use the horsepower. There's not a whole lot of bite, and you've got to do what you can to use it. The person who is able to do that best is going to be the one that hits it on Sunday afternoon.”
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