No wonder Austin Theriault was so eager to race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Theriault (@AustinTheriault) scored an eighth place finish at the 1.058-mile speedway. The Fort Kent, Maine native grabbed his fourth top 10 finish in seven starts this season plus led the race once for nine laps.
The day started off with a solid ninth place qualifying effort by Theriault. He ran just outside the top 10 during the early stages of the race with a truck that was just a little tight. Austin was 12th at the time of the second caution on lap 37 when crew chief Chad Kendrick called him to the pit lane for four tires and adjustments under yellow on lap 40. Unfortunately the team was penalized by NASCAR for crewmembers going over the wall too soon. The infraction dropped Theriault to 18th when the race went green on lap 44.
Theriault held his own during the next green flag run. He was 17th at the time of the third caution on lap 68 and one lap later he pitted for four tires and another round of adjustments. Austin restarted 17th when the race went green on lap 71.
During the following green flag run, Theriault patiently worked his way through traffic. He was up to 13th place at the 100-lap mark. By stopping for fuel under the previous caution, Austin stayed out while most of his fellow competitors began a series of a green flag stops, a calculated risk the team hoped would pay off with track position later in the race.
Green flag pit stops began on lap 110 and Austin began to cycle his way to the front. He grabbed the lead on lap 130 and held the top spot for the next nine laps. Theriault benefitted from the fourth caution of the race on lap 137 which gave him the opportunity to make his scheduled pit stop under yellow one lap later. Armed with four fresh tires and a round of adjustments he restarted sixth when the race went green on lap 141.
Theriault did a nice job in the closing stages of the 175 lap race. Over the final 34 laps, the young driver fought through two intense restarts - which featured two and sometimes three-wide racing - to grab his top 10 finish. On the final restart, Austin lined up fifth when the green flag waved on lap 166 but the inside lane didn't move quickly, costing him ground to the leaders. Austin did a respectable job in the closing laps and was rewarded with an eighth place finish at the checkered flag.