First Maine Driver to Win at Daytona International Speedway and He Is From the County

Episode 199

February 19, 2017

The Theriault family celebrates in Victory Lane after Austin won the ARCA Lucas Oil 200. L to r Steve, sister Brittany, Austin, and Terry. Photo courtesy Judy Green & Crazy Horse Racing

The Theriault family of Fort Kent, Maine celebrate in Gatorade Victory Lane at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) after Austin won the ARCA Lucas Oil 200. L to r Steve, sister Brittany, Austin, and Terry. Photo courtesy Jamie Rockwell

Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault Is First Maine Driver to Win at Daytona International Speedway

Aroostook County is constantly being bombarded with negative news it seems. Drugs, high unemployment, poverty and bad news sometimes can seem like normal. This weekend made some of that bad news at least get bumped off center stage when 22-year-old Austin Theriault became the first Maine race car driver to win at Daytona International Speedway.

With help from my trusty racing history researcher, Gary Saucier of Fort Fairfield, we believe Austin Theriault’s win at DIS early Saturday evening was the first trip to Victory Lane for any driver from Maine. This includes any of the major series that visit Daytona which is arguably one of the best known tracks in the world. Newburgh, Maine native Rickie Craven finished third at the 1997 Daytona 500.

Maine native Austin Theriault emerges from the Ken Schrader OLAA #52 Chevrolet after winning the Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona. Judy Green Crazy Horse Racing photo

Maine native Austin Theriault emerges from the Ken Schrader Orlando Longwood Auto Auction #52 Chevrolet after winning the Lucas Oil  Complete Engine Treatment 200 Driven by General Tire at Daytona. Judy Green Crazy Horse Racing photo

“Winning Daytona was huge”, said Theriault. It is an accomplishment for everyone on this #52 team. It was nice to see the team and the looks on their faces.”

“This is my crew chief, Donnie Richeson’s first Daytona win. He has tried several times and I was glad to win this for him.”

“The win here was special because there were lots of people from the County. It was probably as special to them as it was to me. My grandfather was here. He and his friends used to watch races from Daytona on TV in the 1980’s. He never dreamed his grandson would some day win at Daytona.”

“We’re positive and very fortunate to have people help us. Ken Schrader (team owner) let’s us come up with our own plan. He stays behind the scenes. He is always there if we have questions. He is there to support us.”

“Being competitive is important part of our plan. Being competitive needs to go hand in hand with the overall racing plan. We will be focusing on ARCA races and getting some wins under our belt.”

The ARCA Series next race is the Music City 200 at the .6 mile Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tennessee April 8, 2017.

Support for Fort Kent native Austin Theriault was on display at the home of Roger Belanger, a long time fan. Belanger and Richard Theriault the grandfather of Austin grew up together. Belanger said, "I got Austin's first autograph when he was 14". The retired SAD 27 bus driver resides in Fort Kent with his wife of 52 years, Juanita. HTF Motorsports photo

Support for Fort Kent native Austin Theriault was on display at the home of Roger Belanger, a long time fan. Belanger and Richard Theriault the grandfather of Austin grew up together. Belanger said, “I got Austin’s first autograph when he was 14”. The retired SAD 27 bus driver resides in Fort Kent with Juanita his wife of 52 years. HTF Motorsports photo

The Race

My brother and I gathered at his home in Caribou to watch the ARCA race on the big screen TV on which we had watched the 2016 Daytona 500 at our friend Fred Fletcher’s apartment. Little did we know that would be the last time we viewed any race from Daytona since Fred passed away in April 2016. My brother acquired the TV so we would think of Fred whenever we watched races together.

Theriault started the race in ninth position and worked his way to the front,first trying the outside and later dropping into the inside line. The first caution saw him pick up a few spots on a gas only stop. The first six cars decided not to pit, thus when they did pit, Theriault was able to move into the top 5.

Canadian Terry Jones led the most laps of the race, yet was unable to fend off Theriault when he made his move on lap 73. The third and final caution red flag came out on lap 74 when Justin Fontaine, Bobby Gerhart, and Codie Rohrbaugh collided and caused damage to the SAFER barrier.

Repairs to the SAFER barrier as well as clean up after the crash was going to take too much time thus Theriault was named the winner after lap 75 of the scheduled 80 lap race.

Second place Terry Jones commented that it would have been good to bring the race trophy back to Canada. I drove to Fort Kent to get an estimate of how close the trophy was to Canada. My guesstimate is less than four miles. And that Mr. Jones is how close it is going to get to Canada.

The first mile marker on Route 1 which extends to Key West, Florida located about 3 miles from Theriault's home. HTF Motorsports photo Motorsports

The first mile marker on Route 1 which extends to Key West, Florida located less than 4 miles from Theriault’s home. HTF Motorsports photo Motorsports

Justin Fontaine was injured in the crash which ended the race. He sat upside down in his car until after the safety crew assessed his condition and gently rolled the car back on all four wheels. He was then cut out of the car and transferred to a local Daytona hospital where it was determined that he had a compression fracture of the  L1 vertebrae. Fontaine was held overnight for observation and released early Sunday afternoon.

Will this be the year that the Welcome to Fort Kent sign will need to have "Home of the 2017 ARCA Champion"? Stay tuned to find out. HTF Motorsports photo

Will this be the year that the Welcome to Fort Kent sign will need to have “Home of the 2017 ARCA Champion”? Stay tuned to find out. HTF Motorsports photo

Speaking of Fort Kent…

I know this does not tie directly in to motorsports news, however, I was made aware that Lowell Bailey this week became the first USA Bi-athlete to win a World Cup Championship race. Bailey spent some time training at the 10th Mountain facility in Fort Kent. He also, according to Brent Jepson, my biathalon go-to guy, finished second at a World Cup race held at Fort Kent a few years ago.

Bailey who lives in Lake Placid, New York,  won the 20km race at Hochfilzen, Austria by 3.3 seconds and missed zero targets.

Update on Brenda Sue Carver

You may recall from Episode #125, October 2, 2016 that Brenda Sue Carver of Texas suffered severe traumatic injuries when she lost control of her motorcycle at an estimated 140 mph at the Loring Timing Association (LTA)  Fall Event 2016.

She had to have her right leg amputated just above the knee. She spent weeks at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor recovering enough to make the trip home to Seguin, Texas.

I had a Facebook chat with her daughter Shanna Carver Hunter about Brenda Sue. She said, “Hi Tom! You know, my mom has been nothing short of an absolute miracle. She is recovering SO well.”

“She gets around on crutches, she drives, she can go up and down stairs, and she even got back on a motorcycle! She only rode it up and down her street, but that in itself is completely amazing.”

“She was fitted for a prosthetic this week as well. She still has her down days where she feels like everything is just too hard and takes too long, but overall she is doing SO well. She’s an inspiration. I don’t know if I could ever have her strength.”

I found this latest adventure from Brenda Sue at San Antonio Raceway with video courtesy Monica Nelson, Texas Outlaw Cycles. One of these days I will figure out how to make one of these links so all you need to do is click on it.

https://youtu.be/HYQds-E-sIE 

I will keep you up-to-date on the progress of Brenda Sue as she moves forward in her pathway to recovery.

Speaking of recovery would you join me in praying for Erny “The Flying Frenchman” Levesque. His health is of great concern to his son and others. I am sure they would appreciate you lifting the 89 year old in prayer.

My Daytona Picks

For the Daytona 500 I can be just as wrong as anybody so here goes:

Carl Edwards…oops

Martin Truexx Jr. gets on that four car Gibbs train and rides it to the front.

Sentimental picks

Trevor Bayne, Ryan Blaney, Michael McDowell

Who is your pick(s)?

Let’s go racing,

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria

 

 

 

Tom Hale

About Tom Hale

Tom wrote 14 years as freelancer for the Bangor Daily Sports covering motorsports in Maine. Now blogging and concentrating on human interest stories about people and places in racing.