Theriault closes in on ARCA title

Episode 179

September 17, 2017

Sometimes you win and sometimes you finish well.

A relaxed Austin Theriault is able to show his classic grin at the post race interview at Chicagoland Speedway ARCA race. Theriault finished second to Christopher Bell when Bell went from eighth to first in a green-white-checker banzi move in less than one lap. Austin Theriault Racing photo

Finishing well is what Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault needs to do for the remaining two races on the ARCA schedule. With a lead of 375 points, it is time to try some tactics which will result in a win.

Pit stops have been a critical part of Theriault’s success this season. Consistent and fast work by his crew has allowed him to pit with quick stops. Photo courtesy of Rowdy Maglite

The move that Christopher Bell made on the green-white-checkered last lap of the Chicagoland race was incredible! Eighth to first was a sight to behold. Granted he was on new tires, however, that type of move is a display of what a future NASCAR top-tier racer will try.

Theriault, in my opinion has the racing acumen typified by a driver like Matt Kenseth who hangs around, hangs around until the end. All of a sudden you notice him knocking on your rear bumper.

What would this success mean for Austin in 2018? I have no idea. I do not know what is going on in the background. The next few weeks and months will reveal many mysteries about next year.

Despite his 375 point lead over second place Dalton Sargeant, I suspect Theriault will keep working hard as he prepares for the General Tire Super Weekend: Crosley Brands 150 at Kentucky Speedway Friday evening September 22 at 8pm. The ARCA Racing Series will be sharing Kentucky Speedway with the Xfinity Series, which races Saturday evening at 8 pm.

Something to note is the quick turnaround on Friday for the ARCA teams since the Xfinity teams have practice until 7:25 pm, a mere 35 minutes before the start of the ARCA race. Details like that can sometimes have an influence on how the race starts for some teams. The organized teams will move seamlessly into place while the less prepared or staffed teams may be scrambling.

The ARCA race will be on Fox Sports 1 while the Xfinity race will be shown on NBCSN.

Theriault’s final race for 2017 will be at Kansas Speedway on October 20, a wait of nearly a month for the Kansas 150 which will be televised on Fox Sports 2. Then it is back to Indianapolis December 9 at the Performance Racing Industries (PRI) Show for the awards banquet. This is where Austin began his journey with Ken Schrader in 2017.

Swanson wins in sprint car action at Lawrenceburg Speedway

Kody Swanson, driving the #20 Nolen Racing sprint car, in Winner’s Circle at Lawrenceburg Speedway. Jordan Swanson photo

Many of you who follow UpNorth Motorsports know that in addition to Austin Theriault, I follow the career of Kody Swanson who I have known for several years. This year Swanson and Theriault are on similar pathways to championships in their respective racing series: Theriault in ARCA and Swanson the USAC Silver Crown.

Both men hold big leads in their respective racing series.

Last Saturday evening, Swanson’s prowess behind the wheel of the Nolen Racing #20N dirt sprint car came to the forefront as he took the feature win at Lawrenceburg Speedway, a high-banked clay oval in Lawrenceburg, Indiana.

Swanson started from the pole position in the nineteen car field which included many who call the track their home track and have the “home-field” advantage.

With smoke and clay rolling from a right rear tire that seems to be screaming for mercy, Kody Swanson, the “California Kid” now living in Zionsville, Indiana takes the checkered in Saturday’s sprint car race at Lawrenceburg Speedway. Photo courtesy Brandon Murray

Swanson wraps up his title race next Saturday at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio in the USAC Four Crown Nationals. He carries a 105 point lead over Jerry Coons, Junior.  The USAC Silver Crown Awards Banquet will also be during the PRI Show in Indianapolis. Once again Theriault and Swanson will be at the same venue at the same time.

If Swanson wins the Silver Crown title, this will be the third year out of the last four that he is the series champion. One bad race last year at Gateway Speedway in St. Louis allowed Chris Windom to close within a dozen points going into the finale at Eldora Speedway.

Windom won the Eldora race and Swanson bent his front suspension yet finished in the top five. That was not good enough as Windom won the championship by a few points. With a huge lead it appears there will not be a repeat of last year next Saturday.

County kart racers winding down the 2017 season

NMKA Junior Cage Kart champion, Bryan Searles of Presque Isle ventured once again to Richmond Karting Speedway where he fought the racing gremlins. His Public relations Director (Mom) Stephanie Ball described the action at Richmond, “Despite our best efforts, Bryan fought the track hard today.”

“It started out foggy and the track was slippery, then suddenly hot and sunny which tightened up the track. We made adjustment after adjustment, but the track continued to change dramatically.”

BAS crew-member and younger sister Ronnie-Lynn makes adjustments on the #07 kart of her brother Bryan. BAS Racing photo

One of BAS Racing sponsors, JRT Customs, attempting to get Searles kart to handle better by putting him on the scales. Sometimes your best efforts do not yield your best results. BAS Racing photo

“Even being tight, he had good lap times today. It wasn’t enough though. Bryan got into some traffic in both the heat and the feature, each time getting jostled pretty well and getting thrown to the back. He finished 6th in the heat and 7th in the feature. He’ll get them next time!”

I liked this photo of Team JRT at Richmond. The four kart team will be reduced by one as the team elder, Marcel Bosse, announced his retirement from driving after this season. The team experienced good results at each of the three tracks they frequented in 2017. Team JRT photo

Brenda Sue Carver Update

Brenda Sue Carver has been through many trials and tribulations since losing control of her racing motorcycle at the Loring Timing Association 2016 Harvest Event. After spending months at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, Maine where in order to save her life her right leg was amputated just above the knee.

When she finally arrived back home in Texas, she struggled to get some degree of normalcy back into her life. The Hanger Clinic donated many hours with rehab services and with the help of the San Antonio Amputee Foundation run by Mona Patel she received a new prosthetic leg.

As reported in an earlier episode, Brenda Sue made her motorcycle drag racing return earlier this spring at San Antonio Dragway. She also posted a video of the event.

Land Speed Racer Brenda Sue Carver makes her return to motorcycle drag racing earlier this year at San Antonio Dragway. Brenda Sue Carver photo

Carver reported that she is registered the Texas Mile Land Speed Races the last weekend of October. She plans to be aboard the same bike she set many of the records she now holds.
Carver noted that in addition to land speed racing, “I am bound and determined to be on ‘Dancing With The Stars’. I just have to prove I am a big and bright enough star and get the casting director’s attention”.

The empty “garage” at HTF Motorsports signals the end of another racing season for the #10 team. HTF Motorsports photo

Another kart racing season “in the books”

As noted in the above photo my “garage” is empty one again after the ten race NMKA Friday Night Karting Series at Spud Speedway. I have mixed feelings about the end of the season.

I am glad the season is over from the frustration side of racing my kart. I spent many hours preparing the kart so that it was race ready before hitting the track. From this standpoint, I was successful, not one DNF in 30 races.

I was disappointed that I was unable to finish any better than third in all but two heat races when I finished second. I am not a great loser but realize that in order to move up a couple of places I would need a considerable investment in time and money.

I have wonderful sponsors, however, I suspect not even they would want to invest the money needed to be a race winner. I will hand it to Team JRT, they do their homework and come prepared to win every race.

As I ponder what next year will bring, I know I will be asking the Lord for His guidance on what to do in 2018. I have several ideas that I would like to try including a road course at Spud Speedway and sealed L206 Briggs & Stratton engines.

I must also keep in mind that I am getting older and may have shifting priorities as well as shifting waistline.

Before I close this episode I must say that working with crew chief Dick McNeal in kart racing was a highlight. His selection as “Crew Chief of the Year” made me happy to be associated with him.

A disappointment, which was my fault, was a lack of crew members to record data and assist in race day tasks. That needs to be one of my goals for 2018. I hope that the numbers of racers continues to rise and help the NMKA meet it’s mission to grow the racing community in Northern Maine and Western New Brunswick.

I would be remiss if I did not mention my sponsors/marketing partners for 2018. I believe they did the best job promoting with limo rides, produce, and free passes to Maine Indoor Karting. They include Smiths Farm Stag Brand Vegetables, ACE Auto Rental & Aroostook Limousines, Madore Farms, Pine Tree Cleaning & Restoration, Maine Indoor Karting, and Hale Tree Farms.

Let’s Go Racing

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria

Romans 16:27



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. He races Champ Karts and owns HTF Motorsports in remote Westmanland, Maine