For the first time in 15 years, a driver from Maine will start a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race this summer.

Fort Kent native Austin Theriault has reached an agreement to drive for Rick Ware Racing in the Foxwoods 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 21. Theriault will drive the No. 52 Bangor Savings Bank Ford at the Loudon track, where his teammate will be fellow New Englander Andy Seuss of Hempstead, New Hampshire.

Seuss will also be making his series debut that weekend.

“I’ve spent countless years watching the Cup races and all the other races in the grandstands at Loudon, even when I was racing Late Models,” Theriault said via telephone Saturday. “Back then, I was so hyper-focused on my next step that I wasn’t always seeing the big picture.

“Seeing it come 360 degrees to where it all started for me, and now to make my (Cup) debut on that track, it’s a really cool story.”

The last driver from Maine to compete in a NASCAR Cup Series race was Ricky Craven. The Newburgh racer made his final career start at Talladega in 2004.

Theriault, 25, has been out of a full-time ride since winning the ARCA Racing Series title in 2017. Prior to that, he ran full-time in the American-Canadian Tour with a win at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway in 2012, before running Pro All Stars Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series, Truck Series and Xfinity Series races over a four-year span.

He finished fifth at NHMS in a K&N Pro Series East race at NHMS in 2016.

“It takes many years of trying to achieve the goal that you set out to achieve, and that gives you a perspective on how difficult the journey can be,” Theriault said. “People spend years clawing for opportunities (in all types of series), and I’m glad to have this one.”

Nine different drivers have raced for RWR this season at the Cup level, combining for 33 starts. The organization has yet to record a top-10 finish in 2019.

“We are proud to be giving deserving drivers their chance, and RWR has been fortunate to give some outstanding drivers their chance in the Cup Series over the years,” team owner Rick Ware said in a press release. “We are just as excited to see Austin Theriault showcase his talents on this big stage.”

For Theriault, it’s a bit surreal that his dream will come true at NHMS of all places — where he saw NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin win the last of his 40 career Cup victories in 2009.

“I wanted it to be Loudon,” Theriault said. “I put a lot of time and effort into it. Almost a year. I felt like making my debut at Loudon would help in a lot of ways — it’s a story, it’s my home track, it gives something for all of us to talk about, including all of the people who have supported me from the beginning.”


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