BROOKLYN, Mich. – After a much welcomed one-week break from NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) competition, Niece Motorsports rookie Justin Fontaine heads to Michigan International Speedway hoping for some luck in the Irish Hills.
With just two races remaining in the regular season, Fontaine hopes to see an opportunity open that would send his No. 45 ProMATIC Automation Inc. Chevrolet to Victory Lane and the post-season Playoffs.
“It was nice to get a breather, but I’m ready to get back to work,” said Fontaine who spent the downtime in his hometown of Asheville, N.C. “We’ve made some gains through the summer stretch – but I’d like to go to Michigan this weekend and have a good run with our ProMATIC Automation team.”
Fontaine has one prior start at Michigan International Speedway coming last June in the ARCA Racing Series. The 20-year-old showed immediate speed in his No. 33 ProMATIC Automation car, qualified well – but battled a mechanical issue during the race that thwarted a good finish.
Still, the race wasn’t all for naught.
Fontaine believes there are still some fundamentals from the race that he can apply to his Truck Series debut at the 2.0-mile oval.
“I really enjoyed racing at Michigan and I’m excited to get back there again,” offered Fontaine. “It’s a fast race track and can be line sensitive. Even though the truck and ARCA car are different, I feel like my experience there should give me some good footing for this weekend’s race.”
Most teams consider Saturday’s Corrigan Oil 200 as a mini-restrictor plate race. With aerodynamics at a premium and drafting a key to successfully negotiating the 100-lap race, Fontaine is hoping those elements will put his Niece Motorsports team in a good position.
“Cody (Efaw, crew chief) and I have really been able to build on some momentum the last couple of weeks, even if we haven’t had the finishes to show for it,” added Fontaine. “When it comes to the race on Saturday – the style should be similar to Daytona and Las Vegas – two races we did very well at the beginning of the year.
“We’ll play our strategy – keep ourselves on the lead lap and execute when it matters most and hope the finish gives us momentum for my Bristol Motor Speedway debut next week.”
In the last six races, the North Carolinian has posted four top-17 finishes including a 17th place finish two weeks ago at Pocono Raceway. Fontaine says his team’s effort has been resilient.
“I have some of the hardest working guys and gals in the garage,” Fontaine added. “Our team has a lot of heart and passion -- all with the same goal. The encouraging part for our team is that we’ve been able to showcase our speed lately – now we just need to work harder to execute better and that’s exactly what we have planned for Michigan.”
After 14 races, Fontaine sits 16th in the series’ standings. He carries an average finish of 19.5 entering Michigan. He earned a career-best ninth place result at Las Vegas in March.
In addition to a full-time NASCAR driver, Fontaine just completed his freshman year as a student at the University of North Carolina (Charlotte), where he is pursuing a business degree.
The Corrigan Oil 200 (100 laps | 200 miles) is the 15th of 23 races on the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck schedule. Practice begins on Fri., Aug. 10 from 1:00 p.m. – 1:55 p.m., while final practice is set for 3:00 p.m. – 3:55 p.m. Qualifying is set for race day, Sat., Aug. 11 beginning at 9:30 a.m. The 32-truck field will take the green flag shortly after 1:00 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 (Eastern).