LOUDON, N.H. — Austin Theriault’s debut in stock car racing’s major leagues didn’t go according to plan Friday, at least early on.

After his crew took significant time in the garage to make adjustments to his No. 52 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet while other cars were on the track, the Fort Kent native car was left with only a brief practice run in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“They had to change something because NASCAR wanted them to after they went through (pre-qualifying) technical inspection,” Theriault said. “It just took a lot of time to get it changed. We have an oil leak, so they’re going to take care of that.”

Theriault finally got on the track with roughly 10 minutes remaining in the lone practice of the day before qualifying for Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301, but as soon has he got to the exit of pit road the session was halted for a crash involving series regular Denny Hamlin.

Once practice resumed it ended almost as suddenly as it started, with Ryan Newman bringing an early end to the practice for his own on-track incident.

Theriault got roughly half a lap of practice time.

“Qualifying will be my first couple laps basically on the track,” he said. “I don’t think we completed a lap of practice. Fortunately the way the schedule is laid out, once we get qualifying in we’ve got a couple hours or something on Saturday. That’s going to be good for us, so we’ll be able to get things straightened out.

“These cars have a lot of downforce now and the horsepower’s reduced. I’m making a mental note for qualifying that you can drive them pretty hard.”

Of the 37 cars entered in the event, Theriault’s was the only one not to record a full lap in the practice session. All cars will qualify for the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301.

Chase Elliott turned the fastest lap of the weekend’s opening practice, getting around the 1.058-mile oval with an average speed of 137.086 mph. He was the only driver to top the 137 mph line.

Qualifying for Sunday’s race is at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, following a pair of NASCAR Xfinity Series practices and a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour All-Star race.

There are two Cup Series practices slated for Saturday, totaling roughly two hours of on-track time.


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