JR Motorsports already has one young gun on its Nationwide Series team with 18-year-old Chase Elliott. Later this season, it will add another.
Austin Theriault, 20, who raced for Brad Keselowski’s Super Late Model team in the past two seasons, will drive JRM’s No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro in three Nationwide events at Iowa Speedway (May 18), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July 12), and Kentucky Speedway (Sept. 20).
A product of the vibrant New England racing scene, Theriault earned three Pro All Stars Series victories last year. He has also spent time in the American-Canadian Tour and the NASCAR K&N Pro East Series.
“Our company is known for putting young talent in cars and giving them a shot on one of NASCAR’s biggest stages, and that is what we are giving Austin with this three-race opportunity,” said JRM general manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller in a statement.
“This keeps our No. 5 car on the track, and it gives Austin the chance to show what he’s got with a lot more eyeballs taking notice.”
Eyewear brand SPY will sponsor Theriault for the Iowa race as an extension of its partnership with Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s “Dirty Mo Radio” podcasts.
“I am excited to be continuing my professional development with JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series,” Theriault said in his own thoughts. “I have been working hard for this opportunity, and to be associated with JR Motorsports and SPY is a dream come true.”
The part-time No. 5 has been driven primarily by Kevin Harvick this year in Nationwide, and currently sits fourth in the series’ owner’s standings.
We’ve written before about Daniel Ricciardo’s love of Dale Earnhardt and his love of the No. 3, which Ricciardo has selected as his permanent number for the duration of his Formula 1 career. And additionally, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has offered up the opportunity that one day Ricciardo could race a JR Motorsports car in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, and Ricciardo has said he’d be up for it.
And although Earnhardt Jr. has only used the No. 3 on a handful of occasions in his career in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Ricciardo knows how much the number means to the NASCAR veteran as he prepares for his final few starts in the Cup Series the tail-end of this year.
After the Mexican Grand Prix next week, Ricciardo is set to stay in North America for the off-week between the Mexican and Brazilian Grands Prix.
In that break, he said he’ll see Earnhardt Jr. in person at the Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (Sunday, Nov. 5, 2 p.m. ET, NBCSN) to ensure he gets to see him before he retires from full-time competition.
Ricciardo explained his planning during Thursday’s pre-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass, speaking to NBCSN’s Will Buxton at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin.
“Well I’ll see him for the first time in Dallas. I’m gonna go to the NASCAR race in two weeks time at Texas Motor Speedway,” Ricciardo told NBCSN.
“Yeah, so, I gotta see him race before he hangs up the helmet.
“The Earnhardt family is a huge name in motorsport, not only in America but all over the world. Yeah I wish him well.”
Ricciardo is also optimistic he’ll get the chance to do a helmet swap with Earnhardt Jr. at the event.
“Hopefully I get to see him perform well in Texas. I’m gonna try to do a helmet swap with him. We’ll see how we go.”
Stay tuned for more on this over the coming weeks.