It has been a whirlwind month for Fort Kent auto racer Austin Theriault.
Suddenly, he finds himself out of a ride despite racking up five top-five finishes in a six-race span and climbing to third place at one point in the K and N Pro Series East points season standings for Hattori Racing Enterprises.
A seventh-place finish was the only one not in the top five during that stretch.
Theriault said he was “surprised” to be let go but called it a “business decision” and bears no ill will toward Hattori Racing Enterprises.
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“Professional business and racing is full of twists and turns. It is a constantly changing environment,” said Theriault on Friday. “You have to roll with life.
“I’m just looking ahead now,” he added, declining to elaborate further.
A representative contacted at Hattori Racing said “there was no one available” to discuss the reasons behind the decision to cut ties with Theriault.
In his last race for Hattori Racing, the Bully Hill Vineyards 150 at Watkins Glen International on Aug. 5, mechanical problems resulted in a 20th-place finish among 21 cars.
He was then replaced by Spencer Davis for the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140 at Greenville Pickens Speedway (South Carolina) on Sept. 5. He has since learned that he won’t be driving for the final two races at the New Jersey Motorsports Park on Saturday and the Dover 125 at Dover International Speedway on Sept. 30.
Theriault had six top-five and seven top-10 finishes in 11 races.
“I feel proud of the effort we put in all year. We had some challenges to overcome at the beginning of the season,” Theriault said. “We hit our stride midway through the season and had some strong, consistent finishes. I was proud of the fact we built a solid foundation for them for years to come. We all enjoyed working with each other,” said the 22-year-old Theriault.
He said he is going to use his newfound free time to focus on landing a full-time ride in the Xfinity or Camping World Truck Series for next season.
He has four Xfinity Series and 10 Camping World Truck Series races on his resume.
In the interim, Theriault drove in an Xfinity Series race on Sept. 9 at Richmond International Raceway for Obaika Racing in a last-minute deal. He wound up 37th among 40 cars because his car overheated and completed just 84 of the 250 laps.
“I just found out a few days before the race that they needed a driver,” said Theriault. “They’ve had quite a few drivers throughout the year.
“I tried to make the best out of the opportunity,” he said. “It’s always difficult to prepare yourself 100 percent in that short amount of time. We struggled with speed and stuff. We had a lot to overcome. We did the best we could.”