Justin Fontaine carries confidence to Gateway Truck Series debut
Banking his best NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) finish since Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway earlier this season, Justin Fontaine (@driverFontaine) and his Niece Motorsports team carry confidence trekking to Gateway (Ill.) Motorsports Park, the site of Saturday night’s Villa Lighting delivers the Eaton 200.
This past Saturday night at Iowa Speedway, the No. 45 ProMATIC Automation team overcame several hurdles throughout the day to post a competitive lead-lap 12th-place finish.
With series’ rookie Fontaine re-gaining some much-needed confidence after a tough May stretch – he is optimistic he can continue the uphill climb back to the top-10 in his Gateway debut.
“Man, I’m still pretty jazzed up about our performance at Iowa,” said Fontaine. “The day didn’t start off too well, but after some reassurance from my team and letting the race come to us, we were able to run competitively inside the top-10 before settling for 12th.
“That finish was still really good and what we needed after Charlotte and Texas. I know Gateway isn’t going to be a cakewalk this weekend. I think it’s going to be a tough race, but if we can take that same strategy that we used at Iowa, I think we’re going to be OK.”
To help Fontaine adjust to his new Gateway surroundings, the Villa Lighting delivers the Eaton 200 will feature three practice sessions, totaling nearly three hours. While Fontaine realizes it will be important to take care of his No. 45 ProMATIC Automation Chevrolet during those practice runs, the track time will offer priceless seat time to get acquainted with Gateway’s 1.25-mile surroundings.
“Any extra practice time is important, but it’s always better for me when it comes at a track that I’ve never been to,” sounded Fontaine. “I’m no expert when it comes to Gateway, but I think you’re going to see the track change a lot between the first and final practice session on Friday.
“It’s going to be important for us to keep on pace with that. I feel like the second practice will be ideal to qualifying (on Saturday) and the final practice will be closer to race time, so we just need to make sure we find that balance between the two and then work during the stages to keep our truck on the lead lap and in contention.
“At Iowa, our strategy was to race the track and not necessarily the other trucks, and that paid off for us in a big way. That’s my approach again this weekend. If we do that, maybe we can catch some breaks along the way and dial in our third top-10 finish of the season.
“That would be really cool to get these guys another top-10 and head to Chicago next weekend, one of my favorite race tracks.”
After nine races, Fontaine sits 15th in the series’ standings. He carries an average finish of 19.3 entering Gateway. The Asheville, N.C. native earned a career-best ninth place result at Las Vegas in March.
In addition to a full-time NASCAR driver, Fontaine just finished 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 Villa Lighting delivers the Eaton 200 (160 laps | 200 miles) is the 10th of 23 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races on the 2018 schedule. Practice begins on Fri., June 22 from 2:35 p.m. – 3:25 p.m. A second practice session is set for 4:35 p.m. – 5:25 p.m., while a rare third practice run has been etched in from 6:35 p.m. – 7:25 p.m. Qualifying is set for race day, Sat., June 23 beginning at 4:45 p.m. The 32-truck field will take the green flag shortly after 7:30 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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