Inside the final stretch of four races to conclude the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season, Niece Motorsports rookie driver Justin Fontaine (@driverFontaine) returns to Martinsville (Va.) Speedway hoping to improve on his spring performance in Saturday afternoon’s Texas Roadhouse 200.
Developing his craft on the short tracks in the northeast, Fontaine was hoping his first tango with Martinsville in the spring would deliver his third top-10 finish of the season. Instead, Fontaine was dealt a banged-up truck and a tough finish.
Seven months later, however, the driver of the No. 45 ProMATIC Automation Inc. Chevrolet Silverado returns to the famed paperclip oval seeking a rematch and a good result in the penultimate short track race of the year.
“I’m returning to Martinsville with an open mind,” offered Fontaine who will make his third Truck Series start at the historic Martinsville facility. “Martinsville was the site of my Truck Series debut in 2016 and while it’s proven to be a somewhat difficult track for me, I know that the more laps I turn, the better I’m getting.
“A lot of that goes to my Niece Motorsports team. They are bringing fast race trucks every week. We had a super strong run going at Talladega and was at the wrong place at the wrong time and had nothing to show for our effort. I’d like to be at the right place at the right time on Saturday and give our team a boost heading into the final stretch of races.”
When it comes to Martinsville, Fontaine has quickly learned that it’s a momentum track and sometimes going slower means going faster and patience is everything.
“You would think that looking at Martinsville it would be a pretty easy track to drive. Looks are deceiving,” he laughed. “It’s a fun place to race if you get into a good rhythm – but I’ve learned that Martinsville is also a very technical race track too. At the end of the day, that usually provides great racing for the fans.
“I also learned that in the spring and throughout the year how critical patience is, especially at a place like Martinsville. You can get easily frustrated and that opens up the potential to ruin your day.”
Hunting his third top-10 run of the year and first since Las Vegas in March, Fontaine says in order to be a contender, starting as close to the front as possible is crucial.
“It’s no different than any short track really,” Fontaine offered. “If you start near the front – you have the better chance of keeping your nose clean and pacing yourself for the end of the race. If you start near the back, we as a team are chasing ourselves all race long.
“We have a good plan going to Martinsville this weekend and I hope it means a good result returning to Texas next weekend. I can’t believe the end of the season is going to be here soon. I certainly want to make the best of it.”
During the off-week, Fontaine celebrated his 21st birthday on Oct. 18.
“It was a good birthday with family and friends,” he said. “An even better “late” birthday present would be a career-best finish from now until Homestead. That would be good.”
After 19 races, Fontaine sits 17th in the series’ standings. He carries an average finish of 19.7 entering Martinsville. 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.
For more on Justin Fontaine, please visit JustinFontaine.com, like his Facebook page (Justin Fontaine) or follow him on Twitter @driverFontaine.
The Texas Roadhouse 200 (200 laps | 105.2 miles) is the 20th of 23 races on the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck schedule. Practice begins on Fri., Oct. 26 from 12:05 p.m. – 12:55 p.m., while final practice is set for 2:05 p.m. – 2:55 p.m. Qualifying is set for race day, Sat., Oct. 27 beginning at 10:05 a.m. The 32-truck field will take the green flag shortly after 1:00 p.m. with live coverage on FS1, the Motor Racing Network (Radio) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Satellite Radio, Channel 90). All times are local (Eastern).
Justin Fontaine PR