Justin Fontaine heads to Iowa prepared to rebound
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie Justin Fontaine (@driverFontaine) heads to Iowa Speedway for Saturday night’s M&M’s 200 presented by Casey’s General Store poised to rebound after back-to-back disappointing finishes at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway, respectively.
Fontaine’s season driving the No. 45 ProMATIC Automation Chevrolet for Niece Motorsports started off strong, with two top-10 finishes in the first three races. Since Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway in March, the Asheville, N.C. native has been hungry for a return to the top-10.
Heading to Iowa Speedway for the series’ third short track race of the season, the former ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards competitor sees the event as a perfect opportunity to put his No. 45 team back on the radar.
“It’s been a couple tough races, but I’m eager to get back to some familiar territory this weekend at Iowa,” said Fontaine. “I’ve been very fortunate to have some fast No. 45 ProMATIC Automation Chevrolets, but from a mistake at Charlotte to a right-front tire failure at Texas – we’ve lost some momentum.
“Iowa is a good place to get some of that mojo back. It’s a standalone race, so there’s a lot of attention on us, and I think my Niece Motorsports team is capable of going to Iowa this weekend and getting our third top-10 of 2018.”
Last summer, Fontaine showed strength and maturity at the 0.875-mile short track. From qualifying a career-best eighth in his No. 33 ProMATIC Automation truck – the 20-year-old easily showed the speed and finesse to score a compelling finish in the race, but fell victim to a mechanical failure while running in the top-10.
With the track’s layout and mentality still fresh in his mind, Fontaine believes he knows what it will take to be successful Saturday night.
“Balance and speed,” he described. “We had a lot of speed in our ARCA car last year – just had some bad luck. I was able to get off the corners pretty well and carry that speed down the straightaways.
“We’ll need to do the same with our truck. Iowa also seems sensitive to weather. We’ll practice and qualify during the day at maximum heat, but we’ll finish under the lights with some cooler conditions. I’ll have to work to make sure we keep fine-tuning our truck to make sure we’re prepared for Stage 3 and the finish.”
Knowing that the Truck Series is at the beginning of a four-week stretch, Fontaine says it will be important for his Niece Motorsports team to make the best of the upcoming races at Iowa, Gateway and Chicagoland.
“We lost some points over the last couple of weeks, so we’re kind of in recovery mode,” added Fontaine. “One thing I noticed with the Texas race is that a number of teams made some gambles at the end of the stages to score some stage points.
“I think before too long, we’re going to need to do the same thing. We have good trucks. Everyone is working hard, we just need some luck to come our way and the finishes will come.”
After eight races, Fontaine sits 17th in the series’ standings. He carries an average finish of 20.2 entering Iowa.
In addition to a full-time NASCAR driver, Fontaine is also finishing his freshman year as a student at the University of North Carolina (Charlotte), where he is pursuing a business degree.
For more on Justin Fontaine, please visit JustinFontaine.com, like his Facebook page (Justin Fontaine) or follow him on Twitter @driverFontaine.
The M&M’s 200 presented by Casey’s General Store (200 laps | 175 miles) is the ninth of 23 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races on the 2018 schedule. Practice begins on Sat., June 16 from 8:35 a.m. – 9:25 a.m. A final practice session is set for 10:05 a.m. – 10:55 p.m. Qualifying is set for later in the day beginning at 3:30 p.m. The 32-truck field will take the green flag shortly after 6:00 p.m. with live coverage on FOX Sports 1, the Motor Racing Network (Radio) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Satellite Radio, Channel 90). All times are local (Central).
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