FORT KENT, Maine – Austin Theriault likes where his Brad Keselowski Racing team is at as it heads into the homestretch of the 2013 season.
Fresh off a podium finish at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway last weekend, the BKR development driver believes that momentum could pay big dividends as he enters this weekend’s Southern Super Series All-American 400 at the history Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tenn.
“I’m really looking forward to running this race,” Theriault said. “It’s one of the biggest races in the country, one of the biggest Super Late Model races that we run all year. Having two big races coming up, it’s important to make good use of the momentum we’ve built up over the last couple of months and have some success. This would be a good time to do that.”
Practice for the All-American 400 takes place both Friday, Nov. 1 and Saturday, Nov. 2, with qualifying on Saturday afternoon. The All-American 400 takes the green at 6 p.m. local time Saturday night.
Theriault and the BKR No. 29 Checkered Flag Foundation Ford finished third in the Governor’s Cup 200 at New Smyrna, and he now has four Top 10 finishes in five Southern Super Series starts this season. Fairgrounds Speedway is a wide, high-banked .625-mile oval, and Theriault believes the team will have to be on top of its game against some of the top Super Late Model teams in the nation.
He finished ninth at the track back in April, his first career visit to Nashville.
“Most critical part of running good here – or anywhere, really – is trying not to make the same mistakes twice,” Theriault said. “We weren’t that good the last time we went to Nashville, so we know what not to do. At the same time, over the past month or so, we feel like we’ve learned some things that will make the whole program better.
“I certainly hope that’s the case. As stiff as the competition is, it’s hard for somebody to say they’re going to go out and win every race. You can say you’re capable of being in contention, and that’s where we’re at now. I can’t tell you that we’re going to go out and be awesome. It’s so competitive and with the nature of these races we’re running, some of it’s luck and the rest of it is just being very smart and not making mistakes.”
Since late-June, Theriault has two wins, seven Top 5s and eight Top 10s in Super Late Model starts across the country. With the All-American 400 this weekend and the Snowball Derby looming on the horizon in a few weeks, Theriault thinks his team has positioned itself to peak at the right time.
“Time is critical, and we don’t have many races left to figure it out, but (last week at New Smyrna) was confirmation that we’re heading in the right direction,” Theriault said. “I’m feeling pretty good about that. We really want to carry that positive energy that was present at New Smyrna and carry it forward to this weekend.
“At Nashville, the challenge is always having a car that’s balanced. On shorter runs, you can run fast, but it’s really about how you are on the long runs. The banking’s not like it is at Winchester, but there is banking. The way these tires are (in the Southern Super Series), they’re a little harder than I’ve raced on, so setup is even more critical in these races. It’s critical anywhere, but you see the separation in the field between the guys that really have it and the guys that don’t when you get to Nashville. It’s one of those tracks where it becomes really evident.”