ARCA title all but assured by Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault

Episode 180

September 24, 2017

Win number seven of the 2017 ARCA Racing Series. This one at Kentucky Speedway Friday evening. It was great to see Bangor based Cross Insurance sponsoring the car for this race and the season finale at Kansas. AT Racing photo

 Seventh win in a dream season

Another green-white-checkers decided the Crosley Brands 150 at Kentucky Speedway, Sparta, Kentucky. As he has many times this year, Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault was in the right place at the right time after the yellow flag flew. On the restart with 14 laps to go leaders Riley Herbst, Dalton Sargeant, and Chase Purdy slid high in turn one with Theriault taking the low groove and sprinting to the front.

When another late race caution forced a green-white-checkered finish, Theriault held back Creed who went high in turn three and was passed by Zane Smith. Smith was unable to get to Theriault’s bumper and finished second.

The top five were Theriault, second Zane Smith, Sheldon Creed third, fourth Dalton Sargeant and Shane Lee fifth. Theriault’s point lead is 400 over second place Dalton Sargeant and 700 over Shane Lee in third.

The seventh win is the most since the 2009 season when Connecticut’s Parker Klingerman, won nine races. The most wins in a season is 25 held by Jack Bowsher in 1965. Bowsher also has the most wins in a row with 6.

We must now wait 25 days for Theriault’s final race of the 2017 season, October 20, the Kansas 150 at Kansas Speedway. The race will be televised at 9:30 pm Eastern Time on Fox Sports 2.

One reason for success in 2017 is the connection between driver and crew chief. Theriault and Donnie Richeson confer at Chicagoland last weekend. Great team chemistry is one of those intangibles that make up a winning team. AT Racing photo

When other top teams have more money and larger crews sometimes you can make up for this deficit with hard work and extra effort. Austin Theriault working on the #52 car in the garage area. AT Racing photo

Kody Swanson clinched USAC title and takes a tumble

In 2016 at the season finale at Eldora Speedway, Kody Swanson held a fifteen point lead over second place Chris Windom. Bent suspension parts and an ill handling Silver Crown car combined with a Windom win relegated Kody Swanson to second place in last seasons points standings. Had Swanson won he would have been one of the few to win three Silver Crown titles in a row.

Swanson took the loss with characteristic sportsmanship despite the chance to set a record. He was one of the first to congratulate Windom on his 2016 title.

This year the California native took no chances. He entered the final race with over a 105 point lead over second place Jerry Coons Junior which assured him of the 2017 USAC Silver Crown championship. This is the third such championship in the last four years.

Kody Swanson was awarded the USAC 2017 Silver Crown Championship before the race at Eldora Speedway. Joining him were family, friends, and crew of the #63 team. Kelly Okland photo

After taking the pole position, Swanson was passed at the beginning of the 50 lap race by Tyler Courtney. Courtney would go on to lead all fifty laps and win his first Silver Crown race.

For Swanson disaster struck on lap 32 as he was running 6th. He struck the turn 2 wall and went on a series of spins and flips which ended with a small fire. Swanson walked away from the crash and was awarded 20th place, his worst showing of the 2017 season. Eldora had bit him again.

Go to Collin Markle’s Facebook page for the complete sequence of the crash by Kody Swanson at Eldora. The best part of the accident was that all the safety equipment worked and Swanson walked away unhurt.

The beginning of the lap 32 crash in turn two captured by Collin Markle. Photo courtesy Collin Markle

Tumbling action of the #63 driven by Kody Swanson at Eldora Speedway. Photo courtesy of Collin Markle

Kody Swanson comes to rest on his side with a small fire in the engine compartment. Swanson was okay and walked away from the carnage. Photo courtesy Collin Markle

Swanson walked away from the crash thank the Lord. He will be recognized as the USAC Silver Crown Champion at their award ceremony December 6 at the Performance Racing Industry Show in Indianapolis, Indiana.

NASCAR Monster Energy Series last fall event held at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NHMS)

NASCAR has decided to eliminate the fall race at NHMS after this last weekend’s event. The summer date is retained. I am unable to understand why the event in the fall could not remain on the schedule unless the Las Vegas replacement race promised more money, spectators, or national audience.

Logistically from my limited perspective the fall race made more sense than the summer date. The temperatures in the fall are typically cooler with fall foliage beginning to add a splash of color in the area.

The summer race can be very hot to the point that the aluminum bleachers are uncomfortable to sit in. Will the truck race be eliminated from the schedule? To me the truck race can be more exciting than its big brother races, Xfinity and Monster Cup.

Regardless, I thought you might like to see some photos and get remarks from a couple racers who were at the track.

Steve Doody on right with former boss Jeff Koons in the Kyle Busch pits. Steve Doody photo

You may recall the series of articles I did on “Making a Living in Motorsports” One person featured was Steve Doody of Washburn who was the show car specialist for Penske’s Verizon Indy Cars, Matt Kenseth’s Roush-Fenway Dewalt and Sheetrock cars, aa well as Carl Edwards/Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs cars.

Doody describes being re-united with Jeff Koons of Joe Gibbs Racing, “Met up with my showcar boss who is also on Kyle’s pit crew. Jeff Koons does pit support as a tire specialist plus handles front tire changer air hose so he does not trip on it coming around to left side.”

Penske’s #22 Joey Logano waits impatiently for his car to get through pre-qualifying inspection. Because the car did not get through inspection in time, Logano could not qualify. Steve Doody photo

Kyle Busch’s #18 awaits its turn to qualify. Busch qualified on the pole. Got to wonder why the crew man has the hammer at the left front? Steve Doody photo

Kyle Busch in Victory Circle at NHMS. The pole winner dominated the latter portion of the race. Steve Doody photo

Doody summed up the race from his perspective, “It was Kyle’s race to win. He had real fast car and his pit crew keep him out front. As you remember the over-the-wall group is from Suarez (#19) team who are Gibbs best five.”

Lindsey Laverriere was succesful in getting to met points leader Martin Truex Jr. and obtaining his autograph at NMHS. Laverriere is the fiance of Evan Beaulieu who races Super Late Models at Beech Ridge Speedway. Photo courtesy Evan Beaulieu

Beech Ridge racer Evan Beaulieu, Durham, who you may recall from an earlier Episode when I interviewed him when he was displaying his new Super Late Model at the Portland Motorsports Expo, was at the track. Beaulieu was able to get Dale Earnhardt Jr. autograph before Earnhardt retires.  His fiancée Lindsey was able to get Martin Truex Jr. autograph as well.

Beaulieu summed up his weekend experience by saying, “Another great weekend at NHMS in the books. Wasn’t the greatest races I’ve ever seen, but had a blast with dad and Lindsey.”

“Finally got Dale Jr’s autograph last night and Lindsey got Truex’s at Trackside Live. That show should be back on TV, Jr was hilarious and he pretty much took over as the host. Sad to see this race go, can’t wait for July again.”

County Street Stock driver competes at Speedway 95

Presque Isle’s Jon Dixon trailered his #90 Street Stock race car to Speedway 95 in Hermon to compete in the Saturday Series Casella Recycling Street Stock 30 lap race.

Jon Dixon with his #90 Street Stock Chevy at Speedway 95. Jon Dixon Racing photo

Since Spud Speedway no longer has stock car racing, Jon Dixon of Presque Isle and Wayne Howlett Junior, Mapleton have raced at Speedway 95 this season. Neither has won any races yet seem to enjoy themselves. In addition Jesse Michaud of Caribou has made a few appearance with the Wicked Good Vintage Tour this summer.

Jon Dixon prepares to practice at Speedway 95 in preparation for their Saturday Series Street Stock 30 lap race. Jon Dixon Racing photo

Dixon summed up his Speedway 95 experience saying, “Not so great,  but got some great advice and the car handled better in the feature but overheated. [There were] 21 cars in Street Stock last week and sixteen last night.”

As of publishing time this evening I have no word whether Dixon competed at Unity Raceway Sunday.

Northern Maine Karting Champions get the “royal treatment”

Junior Cage Kart Champion Bryan Searles of Presque Isle and Senior Cage Kart Champion Damian Theriault were each treated to limousine rides to school by Aroostook Limousines of Presque Isle.

Each was picked up by Aroostook Limousines, along with some of the friends, and brought to their respective school and dropped of at the front entrance as a reward for winning the Friday Night Karting Series at Spud Speedway.

L to r Alexa Perkins, Mapleton, Julia Blake, Mapleton, NMKA Champion Bryan Searles, Presque Isle, Chase Plourde, Presque Isle, and Bailey Hewitt, Mapleton join together to celebrate a limo ride to Presque Isle Middle School. Team BAS Racing photo

Chauffeur Darick Williams of Aroostook Limousines in Presque Isle getting Bryan Searles and friends ready for their ride to Presque Isle Middle School. Team BAS Racing photo

Damian Theriault , NMKA Senior Cage Kart Champion center was joined by Chris Haney on left and Andrew Mendez on the right. Team JRT photo

Racer Don Rideout gets married

Racer Don Rideout and leader of the “Bumble Bee Crew” Alanna McHenan wedding invitation. HTF Motorsports photo

I do not usually include weddings in UpNorth Motorsports, however, I do want to say some things about this one.  The people involved in this sacrament of marriage are special folks in the racing community.

Donald Rideout and the “Bumble Bee Crew”  at Spud Speedway making their 2013 donation to Camp Adventure, an Aroostook County based camp for those with childhood diabetes . Cheryl Morris photo

Over the course of four years, this group raised the equivalent in total donations to send 30 youngsters to Camp Adventure for one summer. They did it by selling raffle tickets for a race car as well as corporate and individual donations.

They worked tirelessly to make the racing community aware of the need to support this worthy cause for kids. The group would sit with their bright yellow shirts in a special section of the grandstands at Spud Speedway to cheer on their driver Donald Rideout.

Donald Rideout on the outside in his Acura Integra using all of the track and then some to get by Kevin Lloyd in turn two at Spud Speedway. Lynn Martin photo

The night before the wedding, the bride-to-be, Alanna, surprised Donald with a model of the team’s last race car, an Acura Integra. Bumble Bee Crew photo

A view of the Bumble Bee hood on the Donald Rideout Acura. The lettering was done by Joey Lapierre of Boulevard Graphix in Limestone. Bumble Bee Crew photo

Closing with Mazda Prototype photos

Mazda Motorsports introduced their new Daytona Prototype international (DPi) the RT 24 24-P at a test at Hockenheimring, Germany. The team is run by Joest Racing the same people who ran the Audi Prototype LeMans winning team. The team will be based in the USA and will make their competition debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January 2018.

Mazda Motorsports RT 24-P DPi being unloaded from the Joest Racing transporter at Hockenheimring, Germany for shakedown tests. Mazda Motorports photo

Front view of the Mazda Motorsports RT 24-P DPi in the garage at Hockenheimring. Mazda Motorsports photo

At speed with the new Mazda DPi at Hockenheimring. Mazda Motorsports photo

An update on RYAN Motorsports next week and the latest in motorsports activity. Looking forward to this week.

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