PHOTO: Austin Theriault will run his sophomore American-Canadian Tour season in an RPM Motorsports car. (Justin St. Louis/VMM photo)

(From team press release)

GEORGIA, Vt. — Multi-time American-Canadian Tour championship team RPM Motorsports will expand to a two-car operation in 2011. RPM owner Rick Paya announced Tuesday that he intends to field a second entry for second-year driver Austin Theriault.

Theriault, of Fort Kent, Me., will compete full-time on the ACT Late Model Tour in 2011 in the RPM Motorsports No. 57vt Ford Fusion.

‘I’m really excited to be working with those guys,’ said the 16-year-old Theriault, who finished seventh in the series’ overall standings as a rookie last season. ‘They’ve brought a lot to the ACT series and racing on a whole in this region, and they know a lot more than I do.

‘Hopefully, I can draw on that information that they’ve collected over the years and it will make me a better driver.’

RPM owns seven ACT championships, including the last two with driver and seven-time series champion Brian Hoar. Paya is looking forward to having Theriault in the fold.

‘At this point, obviously, we want that eighth championship ‘ Paya said. ‘I think it will be great to take a young driver like Austin and help him develop his career.’

Theriault posted five top-10 finishes in 10 ACT starts last season, with a career-best finish of second at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in July, while driving for his family-owned team. He’s hoping the move to RPM will produce that elusive first career victory.

Theriault’s crew chief Mickey Green will also join RPM as a co-crew chief with Paya. Several other crew members from Theriault’s team are also joining the new No. 57vt in the transition.

‘I’m sure the media and other people will have some expectations for me,’ Theriault said. ‘But, really, we’re just looking forward to running well every week. The beginning of the year will be a learning curve for me, definitely. The cars will be a little different, but working with Rick and Brian, we’ll just take things as they come.’

This move marks the first time that RPM runs a two-car team for the entire season. The organization ran a second car for a few races in 2008 with a pair of veteran drivers occupying the seat.

Paya believes a second car will make RPM stronger after a year in which Hoar won three races and finished in the top-5 in 10 of his 13 starts.

‘We have the infrastructure in place and we have the equipment to do this the right way,’ Paya said. ‘I think we’re going to have a good year, and we’re going to have some fun doing it, too.’

‘I’m pretty pumped,’ Hoar said. ‘Austin’s a very, very talented young guy, and he impressed the heck out of both Rick and I last year. I think he’s got a lot of potential, and I think he’s going to wake a lot of people up this year with what he does on the track.’

ACT president Tom Curley voiced his support of RPM adding Theriault to the mix.

‘(Theriault) has made a great decision joining with the RPM team,’ Curley said. ‘Rick is a proven winner as an owner, crew chief and manager. His positive and stable disposition will be a great fit for Austin, his family and those team members that will join them.

‘And having a Brian Hoar as a mentor is about as good as it gets.’

Theriault made his ACT debut in the 2009 season finale at Oxford Plains Speedway, where he was the second-highest finishing rookie in only his second career Late Model start. He finished seventh in his Thunder Road International Speedbowl debut last June, was invited to the second annual ACT Invitational at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September and qualified for the prestigious Milk Bowl at Thunder Road in October. Theriault also finihsed fifth in the ACT all-star event — the Showdown At Chaudiere 200 — in Quebec in August.

All involved feel the sky is the limit for Theriault.

‘People will have expectations for him. We know that,’ Paya said. ‘But he finishes races, he keeps his composure and he knows how to handle himself with the media and the public. Those are some of the key things.’

‘We can’t wait to get started.’