By Brian Eberly, Contributing Writer
Driver lineups in the ARCA Racing Series are taking shape in advance of this weekend’s test session at Daytona International Speedway, with Ken Schrader Racing announcing Austin Theriault as the driver of the team’s No. 52 for the full 20-race schedule. Veteran crew chief Donnie Richeson, who has led a variety of drivers to victory lane during his 15-year tenure, will continue as the team’s crew chief.
Theriault won in his ARCA debut in August 2014 at Michigan International Speedway behind the wheel of a Venturini Motorsports Toyota and finished fifth at Pocono Raceway in the only other ARCA start of his career.
Over the past three seasons, the 22-year-old driver has competed in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series East (11 starts), Camping World Truck Series (11 starts) and XFINITY Series (6 starts). Theriault recorded eight top-five finishes in 28 starts between the three series.
“It’s a huge opportunity for me to be able to run my first-ever full season at a national level with KSR,” said Theriault via a team release. “With the support of Kenny and Donnie, I believe we can challenge for wins race-to-race and be in contention for a championship. Returning to tracks such as Daytona, Iowa and Michigan will allow me to build on my previous experiences. Driving at historic places like Salem and DuQuoin for the first time will be fun.”
Theriault was involved in a huge crash in the Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in October 2015 while driving the No. 29 Ford for Brad Keselowski Racing. The vicious wreck into a portion of the wall where there was no SAFER barrier resulted in two compressed vertebrae in his back and sidelined him for several races. Theriault returned for the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway and ran the majority of the K&N Pro Series schedule in 2016.
No primary sponsor has been announced yet, but long-time partner Federated Auto Parts will continue to support the team.
“We are looking forward to an exciting season with Austin. He has proven to be a fierce competitor at every level of racing since his first mini stock race at the age of 13,” team owner Schrader said. I see a great deal of potential for the 2017 season. Austin has competed at a number of the tracks on the ARCA schedule and his previous success offers a great boost for our team.”
After this weekend’s open test session at Daytona International Speedway, Theriault and the Ken Schrader Racing crew will return to the 2.5-mile iconic track for the season-opening Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 Driven by General Tire on Saturday, February 18.