There will be better days for Austin Theriault.
Theriault claimed a 14th place finish in the Toyota Tundra 250 Friday evening at Kansas Speedway, experiencing a most challenging day at the 1.5-mile speedway.
After posting the seventh best speed in final practice Thursday afternoon, Theriault was involved in an accident during qualifying with teammate Tyler Reddick. Reddick spun off Turn 2 and Theriault, with no place to go, ran directly into him. The incident forced the team to quickly prepare a backup No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford F-150 and Theriault started the 167 lap race from the rear of the 32 truck field.
From the opening laps of the race it was clear that Theriault (@AustinTheriault) would have his hands full with a tight handling truck. He and crew chief Chad Kendrick made an early stop during the first caution on lap 13 for a chassis adjustment and fuel. But when the race went back green two laps later it was still a handful for the young driver who kept a cool head under difficult circumstances.
On lap 42 Theriault spun off Turn 4, bringing out the second caution. He avoided contact with the wall and his fellow competitors with an amazing save but fell a lap down to the leaders. Theriault pitted on lap 44 for four tires and adjustments. When the race went green on lap 47 the handling condition on his truck didn't immediately improve.
Crew chief Chad Kendrick and the team kept making adjustments at every opportunity (they also pitted for four tires and adjustments during the third caution on lap 69). During their final stop on lap 113 the team hit on a setup that greatly improved Theriault's lap times. Over the final 52 laps the young driver ran lap times comparable to those inside the top 10 but even with the improvement it was too late to improve Austin's finishing position. But with no prior NCWTS experience on intermediate size tracks prior to Kansas, what he learned will be valuable in next start at Texas Motor Speedway.