Dale Earnhardt Jr. hires Austin Theriault for three Nationwide races

NASCAR's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., co-owns the JR Motorsports Nationwide Series organization.

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The 20-year-old late model racer from Fort Kent, Maine, will make his debut on May 18 at Iowa Speedway, driving the No. 5 Chevrolet with primary branding from SPY, the eyewear brand behind team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Signature 88 Collection and innovative Happy Lens technology. The upper rear quarterpanels of the car will carry the logo of Dirty Mo Radio, the Internet home for Earnhardt Jr.-related podcasts throughout the NASCAR season.

"I am excited to be continuing my professional development with JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series," Theriault said. "I have been working hard for this opportunity, and to be associated with JR Motorsports and SPY is a dream come true."

Nationwide Series races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July 12) and Kentucky Speedway (Sept. 20) will fill out Theriault’s three-race schedule. The seat of the No. 5 is being filled by multiple drivers throughout the season.

"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 Kelley Earnhardt Miller, general manager of JR Motorsports. "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."

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Theriault was the 2012 Maine Vintage Race Car Association’s Driver of the Year, and he made his NASCAR K&N Pro Series debut after winning "Maine Young Guns" inaugural competition in 2012. It was that same year he became a part-time developmental driver for Brad Keselowski Racing.

Theriault’s Super Late Model success in 2013 included three Pro All Star Series (PASS) wins. His victories came in the Rumble in the Pines at Southern National Motorsports Park, the South Carolina Clash at Dillon Motor Speedway, and the PASS 400 Championship Race at Beech Ridge Motor Speedway. His win in the South Carolina Clash came by way of a last-lap pass that resulted in the closest finish in PASS South history. Theriault finished the season with three wins and eight top-10s in 25 races.