PHOTO: Austin Theriault took the lead on lap 109 and scored his first career American-Canadian Tour win in the rain shortened 112-lap race at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. (T.J. Ingerson/VMM photo)

–by T.J. Ingerson

SCARBOROUGH, Maine — The argument in Austin Theriault’s young career has been “well, he hasn’t won.”

But, after the 112-lap rain shortened American-Canadian Tour race at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, that is no longer true. Austin Theriault is now an American-Canadian Tour winner.

“It hasn’t quite hit, yet,” the 18-year-old Theriault said. “I’m sure it will later when we’re having a good time after the race.”

Theriault started in the second position under threatening skies and asserted himself into the lead on lap 26. Theriault was able to retain his lead on a lap 69 restart with Jeff Taylor to his outside, but Taylor regained the lead on a lap 83 restart.

Theriault glued his No. 57 Pelletier Ford Fusion to the bumper of Taylor’s No. 88, but was unable to find a way around the veteran. A lap 108 caution changed that, as Theriault was able to move into the preferred outside lane and took the lead on lap 109, and was the leader when the race was called complete at lap 112 for rain.

“I want to thank Jeff (Taylor), I was right on him and might have gotten into him a couple of times, but it was nothing bad and he raced me clean,” Theriault said. “It was just whoever could get on the outside; there wasn’t any bite on the bottom. But I think the best car won tonight. Once we got clear, I don’t think there was anyone that could run with us. We didn’t touch a bolt from the (Oxford) 250, and I’m sure it’s going to stay that way. It’s just an awesome car. It’s a career day for us.”

Theriault looked for a way around Taylor after he surrendered the lead on lap 83, but was unable to do so. The young hotshoe knew a caution flag would give him the outside lane advantage, but knew it could have been a double-edge sword with the rain.

“The rain was one thing to deal with. I didn’t know when it was going to come, but I was kind of hoping for another caution,” Theriault said. “I knew we were quicker than him. When I was in front, I could pull away from him. But once he pulled ahead, I was able to stay right with him. It was all about the line and he had my line. No matter what I did, I couldn’t go past him”

Theriault knew he would have the advantage on the final restart of the race and didn’t want to give it away.

“I was really glad (when the caution came out), but I knew Jeff is pretty good at restarts,” Theriault explained. “He has played games with me before and beat me. I beat him on one restart, then he beat me, and I wasn’t going to let him beat me again. Especially on the top side, with that much of an advantage, I didn’t want to give it up.”

Taylor, of Farmington, Maine, held onto second after the final restart and was okay with the result for being his third race of the season.

“I wish it was the caution before that, but that’s part of the deal,” Taylor said. “What do you do? Those are calls people don’t want to make and you wish it wasn’t raining and you could just race for it. To come out with a second, we can’t complain. We’ve raced three times and have scored two seconds and a sixth.”

Dave Farrington, Jr., had another impressive run and claimed the third spot in the finishing order. The Jay, Maine racer started in the fourth position, moved into third on the first lap, and raced there for the entire race. Glen Luce, of Turner, Maine, had a good run after she started sixth, raced within the top-five all race, and settled for the fourth position. Defending American-Canadian Tour champion Brian Hoar, of Williston, Vt., made a daring three-wide move late in the race to move into the fifth position.

Point leader Wayne Helliwell, Jr., finished in the sixth position after he faded at the start but began to charge back before the rain claimed the race. Brent Dragon continued a string of solid runs and finished eventh. T.J. Brackett started 23rd in the 30-car field and charged to an eighth place finish. Eddie MacDonald finished ninth, while Rowland Robinson, Jr., moved ten positions from his starting position and finished tenth.

Second place point man entering the Beech Ridge 150 and TD Bank 250 winner Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., fought with the handling of his race car and finished 11th.

They say a driver’s first win is the hardest to obtain. Theriault had been knocking on the door for that first win, and was finally able to claim it at Beech Ridge.

“It means a lot for the guys,” Theriault said. “I knew we were capable; we’ve scored top-five (finishes) and scored top-fives down south. It was more about a confidence thing, for me and everybody else. More than anything, this will just boost our confidence. It won’t change anything. People might look at us differently, but it’s more about we know we can win.”

The American-Canadian Tour travels north of the boarder to Canada for a combination event with the ACT Castrol Series under-the-lights at Sanair Super Speedway in St. Pie, Quebec.

American-Canadian Tour — Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, Scarborough, Maine
Saturday, July 28, 2012

(# – denotes rookie)

1. (2) Austin Theriault, Fort Kent, Maine
2. (1) Jeff Taylor, Farmington, Maine
3. (4) Dave Farrington, Jr., Jay, Maine
4. (6) Glen Luce, Turner, Maine
5. (11) Brian Hoar, Williston, Vt.
6. (9) Wayne Helliwell, Jr., Dover, N.H.
7. (3) Brent Dragon, Milton, Vt.
8. (23) T.J. Brackett, Buckfield, Maine
9. (16) Eddie MacDonald, Rowley, Mass.
10. (20) Rowland Robinson, Jr., Birch Harbor, Maine
11. (7) Joey Polewarczyk, Jr., Hudson, N.H.
12. (17) Travis Stearns, Auburn, Maine
13. (5) Jean-Paul Cyr, Milton, Vt.
14. (14) Shawn Martin, Turner, Maine
15. (12) Tim Brackett, Buckfield, Maine
16. (19) Ricky Rolfe, Albany Township, Maine
17. (13) Ray Parent, Tiverton, R.I.
18. (10) # Ben Lynch, Derry, N.H.
19. (15) Randy Potter, Groveton, N.H.
20. (24) # Jimmy Hebert, Williamstown, Vt.
21. (22) Luke Hinkley, Claremont, N.H.
22. (27) Jeff Labrecque, Jr., Rochester, N.H.
23. (25) Chris Smith, Buxton, Maine
24. (28) Pat Floyd, Chester, N.H.
25. (21) Todd Davis, Claremont, N.H.
26. (18) Jamie Fisher, Shelburne, Vt.
27. (8) Scott Luce, Strong, Maine
28. (29) Jimmy Linardy, Somerville, Mass.
29. (30) Spencer MacPherson, Carleton Place, Ont.
30. (26) Mark Lamberton, Mooers Forks, N.Y.