NNS: JR Motorsports adding Super Late Model driver Austin Theriault for 3 races

Leave a comment

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.

Sebastien Ogier in driver’s seat for sixth straight World Rally Championship title

Sebastien Ogier leads the way in the WRC title chase. Photo: Getty Images
Leave a comment

COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) — Thierry Neuville finished the sixth stage of Rally Australia on Friday without a rear left tire, damaging his chances of catching five-time defending champion Sebastien Ogier for the World Rally Championship title.

The Belgian driver entered the rally just three points behind Ogier in the closest title fight in 15 years.

He held the upper hand on his French rival, building a near-10 second gap through the first five stages at Coffs Harbour before hitting a chicane and finishing the stage with only three tires on his Hyundai.

Neuville was fortunate the puncture occurred late enough in the day to finish all six forestry stages and avoid a retirement. But the mistake cost him 40 seconds and gave Ogier, who is 33 seconds ahead of him, a clear run at his sixth straight championship.

In his last start with Ford before a move to Citroen next year, Ogier struggled as the first to drive the dusty, slippery forest routes.

“I pushed like crazy, I was on the limit over the jump and everywhere, I can’t do (any) more,” Ogier said. “I was on the limit.”

With Ogier on sweeping duties the back markers flourished, and Mads Ostberg took the lead in his return to the series.

Ostberg was forced to miss the previous round in Spain to make way for rally winner and nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb, who was making the last of his three guest appearances for Citroen.

Now back in the seat, Ostberg leads Jari-Matti Latvala by 6.8 seconds in the Australian rally, with sixth-stage winner Craig Breen in third.

Ogier was seventh, 38.2 seconds off the pace, but only needs to finish ahead of Neuville to claim the championship title. Neuville is in 10th place after six stages.

Roles will reverse on Saturday, with Ogier to start further back in the field and do his best on cleaner roads to make up the day-one deficit before Sunday’s final stages.

Andreas Mikkelsen, the 2016 Rally Australia champion, was an early dropout after rolling into a ditch in his Hyundai. Mikkelsen had only just avoided a tractor that had found its way onto the course.

Former winner Molly Taylor and co-driver Malcolm Read were also forced out of their event when their Subaru hit a hay bale at high speed on the morning’s second stage. Both reported soreness but suffered no serious injuries.

The 24-stage rally totals 319 kilometers (197 miles). Ten stages are scheduled Saturday with the final six on Sunday, most of them through forests on the New South Wales state’s north coast about 530 kilometers (325 miles) north of Sydney.