SEEKONK, Mass. — track release — Seekonk Speedway photo —
How many times have we seen a young-gun make their mark in a Saturday night division? It is happening once again.
Austin Blais, a high-school student out of Somerset, Massachusetts, has really started started to make strides after what was going to be a difficult jump to the Late Model division in 2015.
For Austin, an off-season jump from the Street Stocks to the Late Models was all about the timing for the team. His father came up with the money and purchased the old No. 46 Late Model, which was driven by Dylan Estrella for the duration of the 2014 racing season. The sponsors behind the ride also pitched in to help grab the necessary finances to grab one of the best rides Seekonk Speedway has to offer.
Blais knew the car was exactly what he needed to be competitive in a tough Late Model field, especially since Estrella scored eight victories in 2014 and was one of the most dominant cars in the field week in and week out.
Obviously for Blais, the goal is to complete all 30 laps each and every Saturday night and come away with solid finishes. While in the process, Blais hopes to gain experience with the car, something he had never had much of before coming into this season.
Minus one ride with the T Moreshead Landscaping No. 0 Late Model in September of last year, Blais came into 2015 testing cold turkey in the ride. He comes off a SYRA 750 championship a few years ago, when he drove a family owned machine right into glory. Not only that, Blais collected four wins in a row that season and put the whole division and the track on watch.
A jump to the Street Stock division in 2013 seemed like it would be a tough one for the youngster, but he quickly found himself carrying the checkered flag in his second season of action. Blais collected Rookie of the Year honors in the Street Stock class in 2013 and went into 2014 chasing a championship amongst some of the toughest Street Stock drivers New England has to offer.
He finished second in the division point standings by season’s end and collected five feature wins in 2014. Along with the victories, Blais grabbed ten top five finishes and fourteen top ten finishes. In what as an 18 race campaign, Blais came out with an average finish of sixth place, something no one would have believed would happen.
This past Saturday evening, Blais weeved his way from mid-pack through traffic and drove himself into the top five in the 30 lap NASCAR Whelen All American Series feature event.
Blais, a rookie contender in only his fourth career Late Model start, was racing with Bobby Pelland (the defending track champion), Dylan Estrella (a 17 time track winner) and Charlie Rose Jr. (a long-time track racer and former Pro Stock competitor.) Blais found himself crossing under the start/finish line at the end of the main event in third place.
Watch out Seekonk Speedway, Austin Blais is turning heads in race three. A win in the Late Model division will be under his belt before too much longer.