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Last Lap Drama Gives Theriault ARCA Win At Road America

Austin Theriault and crew in victory lane after winning the ARCA racing series presented by Menards event at Road America. [Dave Jensen Photo]

Austin Theriault and crew in victory lane after winning the ARCA racing series presented by Menards event at Road America. [Dave Jensen Photo]

by Paul Gohde

Austin Theriault wasn’t too surprised Sunday when he went into Turn 1 in fifth place and came out of Turn 5 in the lead on the last lap of the Road America ARCA 100 at Elkhart Lake’s Road America.

“A lot of people were coming and going on that last lap after the restart. Guys that gained spots in Turn 1 lost it all in Turn 5,” explained the Ken Schrader Ford driver who inherited the lead and won his fourth ARCA Series race of 2017. “I kind of expected that to happen… I know where my limit is and I hit it. Some went over their limit and we were there to pounce.”

Losers in the two-turn demo derby included leaders Austin Cindric and Cole Custer in Turn 1 and Matt Tifft and Brian Wong in Turn 5. Cindric, the 18-year-old who started on the pole, finished 12th and Custer 11th.

PJ Jones, who was subbing for AJ Fike, led early in his Don Fike Ford but fell to 13th before rallying to finish third, just behind Riley Herbst’s Toyota.

Theriault, the Fort Kent, ME driver in his first season of ARCA racing, averaged 102.729 mph and admitted that it truly was a gift to come out of the last lap carnage with the lead. “I saw it all in front of me. I didn’t think we’d come out with the lead, but there we were 5-6 car lengths in the lead.’

And what about your car-owner Ken Schrader? “I left my cell phone in the hauler. I’ll have to get back and call him. He’ll be happy.” Can’t ask for more than that.

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Paul Gohde
Paul Gohde heard the sound of race cars early in his life. Growing up in suburban Milwaukee, just north of Wisconsin State Fair Park in the 1950's, Paul had no idea what "that noise" was all about that he heard several times a year. Finally, through prodding by friends of his parents, he was taken to several Thursday night modified stock car races on the old quarter-mile dirt track that was in the infield of the one-mile oval -and he was hooked. The first Milwaukee Mile event that he attended was the 1959 Rex Mays Classic won by Johnny Thomson in the pink Racing Associates lay-down Offy built by the legendary Lujie Lesovsky. After the 100-miler Gohde got the winner's autograph in the pits, something he couldn't do when he saw Hank Aaron hit a home run at County Stadium, and, again, he was hooked. Paul began attending the Indianapolis 500 in 1961, and saw A. J. Foyt's first Indy win. He began covering races in 1965 for Racing Wheels newspaper in Vancouver, WA as a reporter/photographer and his first credentialed race was Jim Clark's historic Indy win.Paul has also done reporting, columns and photography for Midwest Racing News since the mid-sixties, with the 1967 Hoosier 100 being his first big race to report for them. He is a retired middle-grade teacher, an avid collector of vintage racing memorabilia, and a tour guide at Miller Park. Paul loves to explore abandoned race tracks both here and in Europe, with the Brooklands track in Weybridge England being his favorite. Married to Paula, they have three adult children and two cats. Paul loves the diversity of all types of racing, "a factor that got me hooked in the first place."