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The last time the Camping World Truck Series was on track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Brad Keselowski Racing driver Austin Theriault suffered a terrifying crash after contact from teammate Tyler Reddick, who got loose but was unable to right his truck. The nearly head-on collision with a non-SAFER barrier saw Theriault airlifted to a local hospital before he was released for further evaluation at home.
According to a blog post by team owner Brad Keselowski, “the front of the truck collapsed, driving the steering wheel into Austin’s face and breaking his helmet, and he also took a shot to the lower back.” But despite the injuries, Theriault’s father said in an interview with the Bangor Daily News the day after the accident that “[Austin] fully intends to race again this season” though there is no timetable available as to when his return might come.
The following week, when the Sprint Cup Series raced at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Theriault was there, gingerly walking around in a back brace.
“Obviously a pretty tough impact last Saturday in Vegas. All in all, putting it all into perspective, I’m very fortunate the injuries weren’t worse than they are,” Theriault told FOXSports.com. “Obviously at the time I was in a lot of pain. The doctors did what they could and made the right decisions planning for the worst and getting me to the hospital. Come to find out there were some issues with my back, nothing that prevented me from leaving the hospital that night. It was actually the morning when I got out.”
Enter Brian Keselowski, Brad’s older brother. Knowing that many of the Sprint Cup Series drivers he would normally turn to as a fill-in wouldn’t be interested, Brad, thanks to a flexible partnership with sponsor Cooper Standard, asked his brother to pilot the truck at Talladega Superspeedway this weekend.
“For one thing, Talladega is a dangerous track, and while it’s always a fun race, there’s not a lot to be gained in the way of knowledge from driving there,” Keselowski wrote in his blog. “That narrowed the pool down to drivers from Xfinity, Truck and ARCA, and when I considered the drivers that interested me, none of them was really more qualified than Brian was.”
Because the No. 29 is locked into the field via owner points, Brian will make his Truck Series debut Saturday afternoon.
As for Theriault’s return? He told FOX Sports at Charlotte that “it could be a few weeks, to a month, maybe more.” He will remain in the back brace he was fitted with until doctors determine the 10% compression fracture he suffered has healed enough to remove it. Most recently, Theriault celebrated a small victory on Twitter.
Update: Makes me sound like a child- But I'm really excited, I can put my socks on again without help! Past few days have been good…
— Austin Theriault (@AustinTheriault) October 13, 2015
- For the only time this season, the Camping World Truck Series will air on FOX instead of on its usual home on FOX Sports 1. Coverage for the Fred’s 250 powered by Coca-Cola begins at 1 p.m. ET Saturday.
- NASCAR has changed the green-white-checkered finish rule for this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway only. Instead of the standard three attempts at a GWC finish, drivers will only have one shot to finish Saturday afternoon’s race in overtime.
- Timothy Peters returns to Talladega Superspeedway as the defending winner of this race; he led 31 laps en route to his eighth career win. After struggling for much of the season, the driver of the No. 17 Toyota carries momentum from a runner-up finish at Las Vegas. He has not visited Victory Lane since.
- Two-time NASCAR Southern Whelen Modified champion Andy Seuss will attempt to make his Truck Series debut Saturday afternoon. He will pilot the No. 28 Chevrolet for FDNY Racing, a team built entirely of volunteers that donates its winnings to the Uniformed Firefighters Association Widows and Childrens Fund. For more information, click here.
- At the end of the 2015 season, Johnny Sauter will leave ThorSport Racing to join GMS Racing, though many of the details, like sponsorship and truck number are not yet determined. In 170 Truck Series starts, Sauter boasts 10 wins, 63 top-five and 99 top-10 finishes. He currently sits fourth in the championship standings.
“This opportunity to race with GMS Racing in 2016 is incredible. They’ve quickly built an impressive, race-winning organization in a short period of time and have only gotten stronger as the season has progressed,” Sauter told Catchfence.com. “I can’t wait for Speedweeks at Daytona to get working with everyone, and am excited to rejoin the Chevrolet family as well. GMS Racing brings really fast trucks to the racetrack, and I can’t wait to run up front and compete for race wins with them.”
- Las Vegas winner John Wes Townley plans to return to the Truck Series full-time next season while running a handful of Xfinity Series races.
“It would be like I did this year, but I would just focus on the races I’m strongest at,” Townley told WSB Radio. “And we can just kind of sit down and have more to focus on those weeks, because I feel like this year we just kind of focused on quantity over quality and in order to progress, we need to approach it a little differently. That’s kind of what we are thinking right now.”
- According to a report from the Charlotte Observer, BKR will relocate from Mooresville, N.C. to a larger building at the Statesville Regional Airport, formerly used by the BK Racing Sprint Cup team. The organization expects to be completely moved into its new shop by the beginning of the 2016 season.
“We are proud to be a Ford team, and we’re located literally next door to a GMS Racing, which is a Chevy team, so that should make for a fun neighborhood rivalry,” Keselowski said in a statement. “Our location in Statesville is perfect because we do not have the traffic and congestion that surrounds the greater Charlotte area, plus we can tap into the area’s skilled workforce. The Statesville Regional Airport is a key asset to us because with our hectic travel schedule, it’s critical to have a first-class facility that is located adjacent to BKR.”
- Austin Hill returns to the Truck Series this weekend for the first of three remaining races with Empire Racing Group. The 21-year-old will also pilot the No. 82 Ford at Martsinsville Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway. Hill crashed out of the season opener at Daytona on lap 13 and brought home a respectable 16th-place finish at Dover in late May.
“We had a really fast truck at Daytona with Empire Racing Group at the start of the season. We were the fastest on the board in the first practice there,” Hill said in a team release. “The truck drafted really well, too. That was my first time drafting like that, and I was still trying to figure it out, so in the race I got behind [Johnny] Sauter and was able to really understand how to side draft. Since then, I’ve talked a lot of people about Talladega, and it looks like for as good as we ran at Daytona we should be good on speed this weekend. Also, Talladega is a wider track so there’s more room if you do happen to make a mistake.”
- MAKE Motorsports announced a new partnership with Bad Boy Mowers for Talladega this weekend. Travis Kvapil will pilot the No. 1 Chevrolet adorned with the company’s colors. For more information, click here.
About the author
Content Director Beth heads up management of our 30-person staff, acting as Tom’s main assistant with technology and personnel while working as Frontstretch’s Truck Series expert. The author of Truckin’ Thursdays and the coordinator of the site’s pre and post-race coverage, she also runs a periodic charity column that spotlights when NASCAR gives back. A childhood transplant to Texas, Beth is a 15-year writing veteran who has contributed content to BRANDT and Athlon Sports, among other outlets.
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