ARCA Champion, Austin Theriault Talks with Media before Kansas Finale

Austin Theriault on Fan4Racing Radio, Monday, October 23, 2017, at 8:40 pm ET. Photo – ARS

Austin Theriault is our guest on Fan4Racing NASCAR & Race Talk, Monday, October 23, 2017, at 8:40 pm ET. Call 929-477-1790 or tweet @Fan4RacingSite or @Sal_Sigala with any questions or comments during our LIVE broadcast.

Before racing the ARCA Racing Series season finale at Kansas Speedway, champions Austin Theriault and team owner Ken Schrader spoke with media members about their incredible 2017 season. En route to winning the 2017 ARCA championship, they won seven races, the General Tire Superspeedway title, the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge championship and more. 

This was the second championship for Schrader as a team owner, the first for Theriault and crew chief Donnie Richeson also won the Cometic Crew Chief of the Year award.

“I had some of the most fun at Springfield and DuQuoin that I ever had in a racecar,” said Theriault, who finished second in his first dirt track start at Springfield and won next time out at DuQuoin. “It goes back to the basics of racing…you just have to make sure you get through the corner without wrecking. I asked a lot of questions about racing on the dirt; but at the end of the day it goes back to the basics. To get a pole and win at the dirt tracks was a high point. Even the mile-and-a-halves…they gave us the most trouble…but we still got a win at Kentucky.

“The road course was interesting. I am by no means a road course expert…I have very little experience on road courses…but we still came out with a win. That was exciting for the whole team. I realized at that point…the fastest car doesn’t always win. You just have to be there when I counts.”

After a reminder of the team’s other accomplishments, Theriault had more to say.

“It’s an honor to be ARCA’s Sioux Chief Short Track champion and the General Tire Superspeedway champion. The awards that ARCA puts forth…it’s almost like…you look at ’em…you circle ’em. We ran the table and that just shows that’s why we’re in the position we are.”

As most champions do after every race, Theriault and his team are already looking forward to their next race and looking for improvements along the way.

“As long as you can see cars in front of you, you’ve got work to do,” says Theriault. “We were respectable everywhere…not always the fastest car; but in position to capitalize on wins. If we can get faster, who knows what we could accomplish.”

To understand the real significance of this title and season, it’s important to know Theriault’s backstory.  After earning his first ARCA win at Michigan in 2014, he raced with Brad Keselowski Racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2015. But at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Theriault was in a career-changing crash that left him with a broken back. In 2016, Theriault found a few mediocre rides, with similar results.

But then he casually bumped into Ken and Ann Schrader at a trade show for the Performance Racing Industry at Indianapolis in December.

“He didn’t have a car to drive and I didn’t have a driver,” said Schrader. “He came up to me at PRI. My wife said, ‘hey I like that guy…how good is he?’ I just told her that he was someone who can make it happen for us this year.”

Schrader was quick to also acknowledge the rest of the team helping to make it all happen this season.

“The guys in the shop beat their brains out all year,” continued Schrader. “Whatever it took…they did it…all nighters…it was all there. Donnie (Richeson/crew chief) hadn’t had the chance to run for championship. He always had different drivers in and out of the car. He just hasn’t had the chance to run for a championship. I’m proud of all the guys…they earned every bit of this championship. Really happy for Donnie. He’s been at this so long, and this is his first championship.”

Theriault and his No. 52 KSR team also earned another milestone throughout their stellar season by becoming the first team in 65 consecutive years of ARCA competition to win on all of ARCA’s track types in a single season.

“That means a lot to me, I mean a lot,” says Theriault. “People say I’m a veteran; but I have no more than five or six XFINITY starts and maybe eight or nine Truck starts. It helped me to get to this point. We work hard and try and study these track as much as possible. We’re very thankful the way the races turned out so good for us. Winning at all those different tracks makes it even more special.”

Starting the season with their first victory at Daytona, Theriault then had more six more wins at Elko Speedway, Madison International Speedway, Salem Speedway – all short paved tracks; then went on to victories at DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, a dirt track, Road America, a road course, and Kentucky Speedway, an intermediate track.

With all the hard work of this season now in the record books, Theriault’s future is certainly looking brighter. So what does the future hold for the 2017 ARCA champ?

Schrader has a wish for Theriault for the 2018 season and if that doesn’t work out, he has a backup plan in place.

“If I could have any favorite scenario,” says Schrader. “It would be to have one of the those really good teams call him from over there (NASCAR). If that doesn’t happen, hell yeah I want him back.”