SPARTA, Ky. — It was right time, right place again for ARCA series points leader Austin Theriault in Friday night’s race at Kentucky Speedway.
Theriault grabbed the lead when the seas parted in front of him on a late-race restart and held off a strong Sheldon Creed in the last two laps to make it four wins in the last five ARCA races for the 23-year-old driver.
In addition to taking home a Crosley jukebox, all the Ken Schrader Racing driver has to do start at Kansas and becomes the 2017 ARcA Racing Series presented by Menards champion.
“It wasn’t easy, none of them are easy,” Theriault said in victory lane. “You got mechanical grip, you got to have the chassis right and you have to have the aerodynamics right. We struggled a little bit, but we gambled at the end and I wasn’t ready to let anybody by us. After a while you know the tricks of the trade to keep them behind you with the air, but we did and it paid off. I have to thank the No. 22, he gave us a pretty good run.”
“Just didn’t have the right gear on the restarts and if weren’t for him, we probably wouldn’t be here. Obviously, this is win No. 7, this is a dream year.”
Creed led a race-high 68 laps on the night and gave it one last-ditch effort to get around Theriault, but it was to no avail. The MDM Motorsports driver slipped in the final corners while relinquishing the runner-up spot to teammate Zane Smith.
“It just came down to the last couple of restarts there and no one made it work from the outside all night,” Creed said. “Clean air is king in these ARCA cars. The car worked so much better, you practice and the car is set up for clean air The car was really good out front and just wish we could’ve done something with the 52. Wish we could’ve got inside of him or got next to him to change up his line but it’s hard when you’re that close to the finish.”
Smith’s race got out to a swirly start when he got all four tires outside the groove and slipped back through the field, also sustaining some damage after contact with the wall. Nevertheless, the California native fell within a few car lengths short of completing the comeback.
“I made a lot of mistakes tonight and I hate it for all of the guys over at MDM,” Smith said. “They gave me a great car and really that’s all I can ask for. That initial start, I touched that grey and it was like ice the whole way around and there really wasn’t much I could do there and then I barely skimmed the fence and we just kept coming down pit road. I got into it at Salem and I did it again, I think I’m just trying too hard maybe or something. The final lap there was the best we ran. The thing was so good, we just needed one spot better
Dalton Sargeant finished fourth as Cunningham Motorsports teammate Shane Lee completed the top-five.
Ty Majeski came home sixth, rebounding after a flat right-front tire as the No. 99 team was able to fix the wounded Ford for a top-10. Majeski ran in Creed’s tire tracks most of the night when the two distanced themselves from the rest of the field
Riley Herbst found himself in a four-wide sandwich on lap 86 and tried to hang on to his No. 18 Toyota, but spun when he made slight contact with the No. 28 Toyota and ended up seventh once the checkered flag flew.
Travis Braden, Blaine Perkins and Justin Fontaine rounded out the top-10.
The race was slowed by seven cautions for 49 laps in the crash-marred event.
Only one more race for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards as they end the 2017 season next month at Kansas Speedway.