MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Justin Fontaine has been medically cleared to to return to competition after being injured in the ARCA Racing Series season opener at Daytona Int’l Speedway in February.
Fontaine, 19, suffered a mild compression fracture of his L1 vertebrae during a late-race accident in the Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 driven by General Tire at Daytona Int’l Speedway on Feb. 18.
He was released from Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla., the following afternoon and has been undergoing therapy as he worked towards his return to competition.
Fontaine will return to ARCA and compete in Saturday’s Shore Lunch 250 at Elko (Minn.) Speedway aboard Win-Tron Racing’s No. 33 ProMATIC Automation Toyota Camry.
Fontaine, a native of Asheville, N.C., participated in a private test at Motor Mile (Va.) Speedway last Friday, where the driver got himself re-acclimated behind the wheel. More importantly, he was making sure that he was comfortable and competitive before confirming his return.
After meeting with management and consulting with series’ officials, the decision was made for Fontaine to return this weekend.
“We had a really good testing session at Motor Mile,” said Fontaine. “I’ve kept a low profile and focused on myself and my recovery and I feel really good. The AM and Win-Tron guys really put a lot of time and effort into making sure I was comfortable behind the wheel, but equally putting me through different situations to make sure I was where I needed to be.
“Daytona’s accident was a disappointment, but I realized it could have been much worse. I’m just thankful to my team, colleagues and my friends and family who went out of their to stay in touch during my recovery. I can’t wait to get back on the track Saturday and have a good finish.”
Fontaine will make his second career ARCA start, but eyes a top-10 finish in his return to give him a boost he’d welcome ahead of a busy summer schedule.
“I’ve heard a lot about Elko, so I’m eager to get there and experience it for myself,” added Fontaine who was credited with a 13th place finish at Daytona. “The guys feel like we’ll have a good piece. The No. 33 team had a good short track car at Toledo Speedway a couple weeks ago – just some bad luck in the race.”
“If we can go out there on Saturday and qualify respectably and finish inside the top-10, I’d be thrilled for myself and ProMATIC Automation. It certainly would be something to build on heading to the upcoming races.”
Win-Tron Racing team principal Kevin Cywinski who attended the Motor Mile test says Fontaine quickly got up to speed and achieved the goals sought of him.
“You could tell right off the bat Justin was excited to be back behind the wheel of an ARCA car and it showed with his speed and finesse during the test,” offered Cywinski. “He gave us the feedback we were looking for and looked comfortable behind the wheel.”
“He’s keen on showing that the Daytona setback was just a fork in the road and he has what it takes not only to be competitive – but contend for wins too. Like Justin said, a top-10 finish is exactly what we need to get him back in a routine.”
While sticking with a heavy ARCA Racing Series schedule for now, Fontaine’s focus is expected to turn towards the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, where he’ll compete in select events this summer in an AM Racing entry.