DuQUOIN, Ill. — Austin Theriault put an exclamation point on a picture-perfect day for Ken Schrader Racing Monday afternoon at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.
Right after the bossman Ken Schrader wheeled his own No. 9 Federated Auto Parts Modified to Victory Lane — holding off Tony Stewart for the win — Theriault steered Schrader’s No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Toyota to his fifth ARCA Racing Series win of the season.
Monday’s running of the General Tire GRABBER 100 marked the 64th edition of the Southern Illinois 100.
Theriault outhustled late-race leader Shane Lee into turn one during a second green-white-checker attempt and pulled away as Lee got the chrome horn from Sheldon Creed.
While Creed and Lee banged around back and forth, Theriault drove away from everyone, winning by just over a second at the checkered flag.
“We got a good restart,” said Theriault, who finished second at Springfield’s Illinois State Fairgrounds, the other mile-dirt track on the series schedule. “I had to get him on that restart … otherwise we would have ended up in the fence.”
Both Lee and Creed could have ended up in the “fence” when Lee got a shot from behind from Creed, before Lee paid it back with a shot of his own.
“It was just hard racing there, all going for the win,” said Creed. “My plan was to push the 22 (Lee) and get him in front of the 52. It didn’t pan out like we wanted. Me and Lee were going for our first win … it was just hard racing.”
Creed, in the No. 78 United Rentals-Mason Mitchell Motorsports Chevrolet, came home second, a career-best for the Alpine, Calif. driver.
If it ended up a decent day for Creed, it was pure heartbreak for Lee, who not only led the most laps (48) but had a three-second lead inside of 10 to go before late-race cautions bunched up the field for back-to-back green-white-checker restarts.
Lee told a different version of what happened on the final restart.
“I knew when he (Creed) started third behind us, I knew our day was done,” said Lee, who backed up to sixth in the final running order. “He always drives like that. We took the best car and finished sixth.”
The green-white-checker finish that preceded the final one played out even worse for several potential winners.
The field got three-wide in turn one and then ran out of room coming off turn two, with a crash breaking out and collecting polesitter Will Kimmel, Tanner Thorson, Brandon Grosso, Tyler Dippel, Riley Herbst and Ryan Unzicker.
While Kimmel, Unzicker and Grosso were able to continue, the rest were through for the day.
Gus Dean who managed to clear the carnage with an evasive, bonsai-style move on the bottom, finishing third ahead of Unzicker, Grosso and Lee.
Theriauit’s win helped pad his championship lead with four races remaining.
“It’s almost unbelievable when you think about it,” Theriault said of winning on dirt. “The 22 and the 78 were fighting for the bottom and I saw an opening … that’s when we got a run on the outside.”
“There’s a lot of patience that goes with these dirt races. You have to adjust your lines corner to corner … and you’ve gotta be able to hang it out there and keep it there. Today was not easy, but it was fun. The line was all over the place, which makes it fun. But we didn’t walk away with this one.”
Kimmel led the first 18 laps from the pole before Creed took control on the 19th circuit. After that, Unzicker raced his way into the lead for seven laps before Creed came back to the front.
However, once Lee took control on lap 59, he was able to pull away from the pack as necessary over the back half before the late cautions changed everything.
Full race results can be viewed on the next page…