Embracing a slew of new race tracks in five of the last six NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races, Niece Motorsports rookie Justin Fontaine is excited to head to Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway, site of Friday night’s World of Westgate 200.
Feeling energized after a two-week break from competition and settling into the fall semester of college, the Asheville, N.C.-native returns to the 1.5-mile speedway hoping to rekindle some of the same luck he encountered in March.
In his Las Vegas truck debut, Fontaine qualified a season-high 17th and utilized some strategy during the third stage to put his No. 45 ProMATIC Automation Chevrolet in contention for a strong finish.
Not only did Fontaine capitalize on the finish with a career-best ninth place result, but the 20-year-old also led his first laps of Truck Series competition.
This weekend, the former ARCA Racing Series competitor hopes to double-down and score big in Sin City.
“I’ve been getting excited about going back to Las Vegas now for the past couple of weeks,” Fontaine said.
“It was a track I really adapted to and I think a lot of that was the support from my Niece Motorsports team and the good No. 45 ProMATIC Automation Chevrolet truck they brought me.
“It was also a huge learning experience for me. I’m still learning a lot with these trucks. I learned a lot about the draft, handling and even saving fuel. With more experience and laps under my belt, I’m hoping that all that knowledge will put us in a position to have an even better race than we did in March.”
Fontaine knows that repeating his second top-10 finish of the year won’t be easy, but he is willing to put forth the effort for his Niece Motorsports team.
“The competition is very strong right now and it’s a Playoff race,” Fontaine explained. “I have to be respectful of my competitors, but I also realize that we are in our own race too. We’re fighting for our chance in the spotlight. There’s a lot of people that get our team to the track every weekend and I don’t want to disappoint them.
“We’ll just keep doing what we’ve been doing and hope when the checkered flag falls we’ll feel like we’ve hit the jackpot.”
With six races left in his freshman season of competition, Fontaine doesn’t make excuses for his learning curve, but says the final stretch could have the potential for his team to make some noise.
“I really think some of these races this fall will play into our hands,” sounded Fontaine. “From Las Vegas to Talladega, Martinsville, Texas and so on.
There’s a lot of tracks where I feel we can go back for the second time and be better – and for those that I’ve never been to, the confidence in myself and from my team should give us the boost we need to try and turn some heads.
“I’m eager to see what we can accomplish.”
After 17 races, Fontaine sits 16th in the series’ standings. He carries an average finish of 20.0 entering Las Vegas. He earned a career-best ninth place result at Las Vegas in March.
In addition to a full-time NASCAR driver, Fontaine just started his sophomore year as a student at the University of North Carolina (Charlotte), where he is pursuing a political science degree.
“School is going well so far,” added Fontaine. “I haven’t been back for very long, but I’m having fun and have a lot of support. Sure, you may find me at the track doing some homework during our downtime – but I’m committed to giving 150 percent behind the wheel and my academics.”
For more on Justin Fontaine, please visit JustinFontaine.com, like his Facebook page (Justin Fontaine) or follow him on Twitter @driverFontaine.
The World of Westgate 200 (134 laps | 201 miles) is the 18th of 23 races on the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck schedule. Practice begins on Thurs., Sept. 13 from 2:05 p.m. – 2:55 p.m., while final practice is set for 4:05 p.m. – 4:55 p.m. Qualifying is set for race day, Fri., Sept. 14 beginning at 3:05 p.m. The 32-truck field will take the green flag shortly after 6:00 p.m. with live coverage on FS1, the Motor Racing Network (Radio) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Satellite Radio, Channel 90). All times are local (Pacific).
Justin Fontaine PR