By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
Despite a breakout 2017 season, ARCA Racing Series Champion Austin Theriault’s plans for 2018 are still in the dark. Theriault’s journey to his first national series championship has been a long and winding road.
Theriault dominated the 2017 ARCA Racing Series season. In 20 races, he finished in the top-10 19 times. The Fort Kent, ME native also earned seven victories and 16 top-five finishes. Theriault also became the first driver in ARCA history to win on all five styles of racetracks (dirt track, intermediate track, road course, short track, and superspeedway). All of this has come in just four years of racing on the national circuit, and two years after breaking his back in a crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a great journey the past three or four years since making the jump from the regional parts of New England to coming down here and trying to make this a career,” Theriault admitted, regardless of the challenges he’s faced. “Along the way, there certainly have been some challenges as well as some things to celebrate. Last year was a good opportunity because it was my first chance to race fulltime for a championship in a national series, not counting late models in New England. It provided a chance for me to prove myself at the national level, go out there and race every week.”
Prior to his ARCA Championship with Ken Schrader Racing, Theriault had run part-time for several organizations. He ran six NASCAR Xfinity Series races with a best finish of 15th in his debut with JR Motorsports in 2014. 2015 saw Theriault drive for Brad Keselowski Racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, scoring two top fives and four top-10s. In 2016 he competed in 11 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races and was voted the Most Popular Driver.
“The part-time stuff was good, but with a lot of breaks, it was hard to gain momentum, and confidence,” Theriault explained. “I feel like that was really important for us. I had a group of guys that were committed to being successful, putting in a lot of time and effort throughout the year, and it paid off in the end.”
Although his 2018 plans are questionable at the moment, Theriault is still optimistic for the upcoming season. Successes, like the ones that he had earlier this year, rarely go unnoticed by those in the industry.
“I don’t totally know what my plans are for next year. This is a good time of the year, it’s the holiday season. But, for some, there’s a lot of unknowns, and that’s where I’m at right now. Hopefully things come together for next year. Sometimes this sport can push you down, keep you away, but as long as you’re trying your hardest to keep yourself in the sport, it’ll reward you.”
Ultimately, Theriault is hoping for just that, to be rewarded for everything that he has accomplished.