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Rookie Truck Series driver will ‘indefinitely’ step away after 2018 season

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Justin Fontaine, citing the stress of his career on his family and lack of sponsorship, stated Monday on Twitter and Facebook that “barring a major influx of sponsorship funds, I will be indefinitely stepping away from Motorsports competition” after the Camping World Truck Series finale in Miami in November.

Fontaine, 20, has two top-10 finishes for Niece Motorsports, including a 10th-place finish at Daytona International Speedway to open the season. The rookie started 30th and finished 14th last week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It was his best finish since placing 14th at Chicagoland Speedway in late June. Fontaine ranks 15th in points.

Fontaine wrote Monday about the stress his career has put on himself and family members.

“Following the event at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, which I retired early due to (a) self-inflicted on-track accident, I went back to the hauler and literally broke down. My rookie season at Niece Motorsports started out strong with two top-10 finishes in the first three races – however our finishes plateaued in the weeks that followed.

“We had a string of poor results that I had only myself and inexperience to blame. Frankly, it was a bitter pill to swallow, but it became reality. My dad came up to the lounge after the Charlotte race to calm (me) down, and we had an honest conversation about my career and desires.

“My goals for nearly 10 years have been clear to me, however, the reality of making those dreams come true are much more complicated, and in many ways out of my control.

“The stress for me and more importantly my family is more than I can shoulder any longer.

“We often do not think about the impact our careers have on our families, but I was forced to see it firsthand when my mom, dad and brothers walked into my hospital room in tears after the ARCA crash in Daytona that nearly took away my ability to walk in February 2017.

“If I can help it, I do not want to see that again. That experience affected me very deeply and knowing that the lifestyle and career I love so much could bring that much emotional distress was overwhelming.”

 

Brett Moffitt wins Truck race at Michigan

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Brett Moffitt passed Johnny Sauter in the final corner on the last lap to win his fourth win of the season. With this victory, he was able to tie Sauter for the most wins with one race remaining in the regular season. Moffitt crossed the finish line with a bumper advantage over Sauter.

John Hunter Nemechek, Noah Gragson and Todd Gilliland rounded out the top five.

The final run to the checkers was set up when a late-race caution was waved for an incident involving Myatt Snider, Dalton Sargeant and Grant Enfinger.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Stewart Friesen

STAGE 2 WINNER: Grant Enfinger

HOW BRETT MOFFITT WON: Stalking Johnny Sauter during the final 10 laps, Moffitt laid off Sauter on the final lap and got a run entering turn three. With a little aero dynamic push from John Hunter Nemechek, he was able to get a run to the inside of the No. 21 and won the drag race to the finish line.

MORE: Complete Results
MORE: Points Standings

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Noah Gragson finished fourth to score his ninth consecutive top-10 in the Truck series. … JH Nemechek’s third-place finish was his fourth consecutive result of seventh or better.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Matt Mills spun in a single-truck incident on lap 27 and backed hard into the wall. … Running 19th at the time, Justin Fontaine spun on lap 35 and made heavy contact with the right side. … With 22 laps to go, Snider was hit from behind by Sargeant and spun into Enfinger entering pit road.

NOTABLE: Friesen seemed to gain an advantage when he got onto pit road when caution waved, but was penalized for improper fueling on that stop because his fuel man pushed his truck out of the stall. That dropped him from first to the last car on the lead lap (19th). Friesen charged back to eighth at the finish.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “I knew Johnny (Sauter) was fast. Our Toyota engine, we were lacking a little raw speed today with that. So I was really waiting to time it. … The whole last however many laps I was behind him, I was running wide open. When I’d get to him and I’d push him with that air bubble between our bumpers, so I tried to back up 1, tried to let him get out there a little bit. I knew the 8 was behind us and I was hoping, he’d actually be able to get to us and push us.” – Brett Moffitt on FS1.

WHAT’S NEXT: UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway at 8:30 p.m. ET on Aug. 16 on FS1.

Truck practice report at Kentucky

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FINAL PRACTICE

Ben Rhodes bounded to the top of the speed chart in the final minutes of the final practice session with a lap of 182.834 mph.

He beat Grant Enfinger (181.873 mph) by .151 seconds – nearly a full mile per hour.

Chris Eggleston (181.622), Matt Crafton (181.232) and Brandon Jones (181.190) rounded out the top five.

Noah Gragson appeared to blow an engine during final practice, causing an extended delay for cleanup. NASCAR extended the session to noon (five minutes) as a result. He was fourth on the speed chart at the time with a speed of 180.977 mph. His speed eventually landed seventh on the chart.

Justin Haley – who was fastest in the first session – was unable to back up his speed and posted the 15th fastest lap (180.000) in final practice.

Johnny Sauter had the quickest 10 lap average of 179.411 mph.

Click here for the complete practice report.

FIRST PRACTICE

Haley posted the fastest single lap in the first practice session for the Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway with a speed of 182.076 mph.

He beat Stewart Friesen (181.788) by .047 seconds.

Myatt Snider (181.616), Brandon Jones (181.336) and Dalton Sargeant (180.947) rounded out the top five.

Gragson had the quickest 10 lap average of 180.112 mph

Justin Fontaine (176.840) posted the most laps with 33.

Click here for the complete practice report.

Justin Haley wins first Truck race at Gateway

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Justin Haley won his first career Camping World Truck Series in a three-lap shootout at the end of the Eaton 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park.

With seven laps remaining, then-leader Noah Gragson took the bottom line on a restart. That lined Todd Gilliland up behind Haley and proved to be the difference for both drivers on the front row. Gilliland pushed Haley hard into turn one, but contact between Gragson and Gilliland allowed Haley to gain the advantage.

A quick caution for debris forced Haley to survive one more restart – this time with Johnny Sauter lined up beside him. In a three-lap shootout to the end, Haley held onto the top spot.

Gilliland got around Sauter for second. Sauter finished third.

Myatt Snider finished fourth with Zane Smith rounding out the top five in his first career Truck start.

The race was red flagged on lap 119 to clean up fluid from John Hunter Nemechek. He ran over a piece of debris that punctured an oil line. Justin Fontaine spun in the oil with Tate Fogleman sliding in as well.

The incident had lasting ramifications. On lap 132, Brett Moffitt and Ben Rhodes were battling for fifth. Neither driver wanted to go high into turn one because of the speedy dry. Rhodes crowded Moffitt and both made contact with the wall. Rhodes stayed on track. Moffitt pitted, but was able to climb back into contention for a top 10.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Grant Enfinger

STAGE 2 WINNER: Christian Eckes

HOW JUSTIN HALEY WON: Haley lined up in the outside groove with seven laps to go and got a bump from Todd Gilliland that pushed him to the lead. From there, it was simply a matter of surviving one more restart with the veteran Johnny Sauter lined up to his inside as Haley led the final laps.

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: In his Truck debut, Riley Herbst scored a top-10 finish in eighth. … Jesse Little finished seventh, which was his fourth top-10 finish in the last five races. … In just his third Truck start and first since 2015, Chad Finley managed to stay out of trouble and finished a career-best sixth.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Dalton Sargeant cut a left front tire and pounded the wall with two laps remaining in stage one after contact from Todd Gilliland. … Matt Crafton developed an alternator issue at the end of stage two; they changed a battery and resumed racing, four laps off the pace. … On lap 76, Stewart Friesen got loose underneath Christian Eckes and spun him into the wall. … Battling for sixth on lap 98, Friesen and Johnny Sauter made contact on exiting turn two and Friesen spun into the inside wall. … Grant Enfinger started on the pole, led every lap of the first stage, but cut a tire in the closing laps and finished seven laps off the pace in 21st.

NOTABLE: It was a difficult night for Young Guns. In his second career Truck start, 17-year-old Eckes was wrecked during segment two after contact with Friesen. Making his first start in the Tuck series, 18-year-old Fogleman was collected in an accident triggered by Nemechek’s blown engine.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “We had to change the battery. The alternator’s done. I don’t know; they’re still trying to science it out I guess. You know, it’s a big cost for something we spend a lot of money on – and there’s just no excuse for it. Our day is pretty much over. We’ll use it as a test, go to Chicago and try to kick their ass there.” – Matt Crafton’s crew chief Junior Joiner after an electrical problem plagued them at the end of stage two.

WHAT’S NEXT: Overton’s 225 at Chicagoland Speedway at 9 p.m. ET on June 29 on FS1.

Johnny Sauter wins Truck Series race at Texas

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Johnny Sauter won his fourth race of 2018 and for the fifth time at Texas Motor Speedway by holding off pole sitter Stewart Friesen in a green-white-checkered finish to end the PPG 400.

Sauter started the race in fifth and managed to stay in contact with the leaders, but did not take the lead until the final stages of the race. Using a combination of fuel and tire conservation, he led 51 laps on the way to victory lane.

Stewart Friesen led the field to green from the pole, but got loose in the outside groove early in stage one. He fought back throughout the night – winning stage one and challenging for the lead late in the race. A determined charge in the final 20 laps put him in position to challenge Sauter. Unfortunately he got hung up behind Justin Haley on the final lap and could not get close enough to make the pass for the lead.

The biggest incident of the night came on lap 109. Battling for a position in the top 10, Dalton Sargent and Myatt Snider got together while trying to use Jennifer Jo Cobb as a pick. Snyder made hard contact with the wall and retired on lap 105 in 23rd. Sargent remained on the lead lap and finished just outside the top 10 in 11th. 

STAGE 1 WINNER: Stewart Friesen

STAGE 2 WINNER: Grant Enfinger

HOW SAUTER WON: Sauter stayed out on old tires with 55 laps remaining and stretched his fuel to race to the end.

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Enfinger inherited the lead when Todd Gilliland pitted near the end of the second segment and scored his first stage win of the season; he continued to battle among the leaders before finishing fourth. Friesen matched his career best finish of second; his previous runner up finish came on the dirt track of Eldora Speedway last July. Justin Haley gave his teammate Sauter a huge push on the final restart before getting overhauled by Friesen on the final lap; Haley finished third to score his sixth career top five.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Ben Rhodes developed an engine problem toward the end of stage one and lost multiple laps while trying to diagnose the issue; he finished three laps off the pace in 16th. Justin Fontaine hit the wall hard on lap six and pancaked the right side of his truck – finishing 30th in the 32-car field. Driftwood Texas driver Bayley Currey got loose in the outside lane on lap 11 while running 18th and hit the turn four wall; he finished 29th. With 10 laps remaining in stage one, Brett Moffitt got loose under Austin Wayne Self and spun into the turn one wall. Moffitt brought out a second yellow when he almost spun 19 laps from the end before finishing 18th. Fighting to stay on the lead lap, Bo LeMastus made contact with Norm Benning, cut a tire, and hit the wall with six to go in stage two. LeMastus finished 26th; Benning finished 21st.

NOTABLE: Gilliland received his high school diploma in a pre-race ceremony before climbing into the lead at the start of the Rattlesnake 400.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “I’m speechless at this point; I don’t even know what to say anymore,” Sauter said from victory lane on FoxSports 1. “This is a lot of fun. Five wins at Texas – I feel very, very lucky … It’s all about getting that clean start. I knew that (Friesen) was going to be aggressive – obviously he’s hungry for his first win and so I just timed it right.”

WHAT’S NEXT: M&Ms 200 at Iowa Speedway at 7:00 p.m. ET on June 16 on FS1.