Austin Theriault (@AustinTheriault) was back behind the wheel of the Cooper Standard Ford F-150 in the Ford EcoBoost 200 Friday night at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway. After being sidelined since an October crash at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the young driver erased any doubts about his health or ability during the 134 lap, 200 mile race.
Theriault raced three-wide in traffic while battling for position and nicked the outside SAFER barrier in an effort to squeeze every bit of speed possible out of his truck. He was rewarded with a respectable 12th-place finish but like a true racer, the Fort Kent, Maine native was hoping for a better result, saying he wanted to post a top 10 finish in the season finale.
Theriault earned the 18th place starting position during qualifying after his truck skated loose between Turns 3 and 4. He held his ground during the opening laps of the race but steadily began to move closer to the front. Austin was up to 15th position by lap 25 but was hindered by a truck that was simply too free. Theriault made his first scheduled pit stop under green on lap 41 for four tires and adjustments.
He remained 15th after the cycle of stops was complete but moved up to 14th when the second caution slowed the race on lap 62. Theriault pitted one lap later for four tires and adjustments. Excellent pit work moved him up to 13th position when the race went green on lap 66.
The third caution slowed the race on lap 75 and Theriault immediately pitted for four tires and adjustments. He restarted 15th when the green flag waved on lap 78 and immediately began to move forward. Austin was up to 12th place when the fourth and final yellow waved on lap 84. A mix of strategies among the leaders moved Theriault up to fifth when the race went green on lap 88.
Despite only a handful of laps difference between his tires and others on the lead lap, Theriault, despite his best efforts, couldn't stay among the top 10. He was 14th on lap 99 but picked off 13th place on lap 104.
The final 30 laps featured intense racing between Theriault, Spencer Gallagher and Cameron Hayley for positions just outside the top 10 with the trio going three wide at the entrance to Turn 1 on lap 114. As the event entered its closing laps Austin was able to hold on to 12th position.