Latrobe native caps racing season with victory at Hickory Motor Speedway
Driving in his first 100-lap race, Justin Bolton of Latrobe capped a successful season by finishing first in the limited late model division of the Fall Classic at the Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina last month.
Bolton, who qualified in 15.48 seconds, withstood a strong challenge from runner-up Landon Huffman of Claremont, N.C. to win his second race of the season. Bolton, 18, also took first place in an event in June.
In four other races, he placed sixth, fourth twice and second.
He ranked 14th among limited late model drivers with 274 points on oval tracks. Huffman ranked second.
A member of the Lee Faulk Racing and Development team in Denver, N.C., Bolton, who drives a Chevrolet, moved to limited late model after competing in the Legend Car series as a semi-pro a year ago.
Founder Lee Faulk said Bolton might be the best driver the team has produced.
“He's a natural,” Faulk said. “Very few drivers have caught on as immediately as he has.
“He listens well.”
Former drivers include 2011 Hickory Limited Late Model champion Pietro Fittipaldi.
Fittipaldi, the grandson of two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi, competed in Formula 4 racing in England this year.
Co-owner Michael Faulk likes that Bolton is serious.
“He's doesn't eat, text, use a cell phone or spend time playing with a friend,” Michael Faulk said. “He's focused and has a lot of dedication.”
Bolton said being part of the team has made him a better racer.
“Lee really helped me (in) being smooth on the throttle and keeping the steering steady,” Bolton said.
Lee and Michael Faulk agreed Bolton's future is bright.
“He definitely can be a NASCAR driver,” Michael Faulk said.
Because of limited funding, Bolton competed in less than a third of races this year.
Using social media to secure sponsors, he looks forward to competing more often next season.
“It's sad when you see kids who don't have the ability Justin has, but have money, racing,” said Lee Faulk, noting that $160,000 is needed for a full season.
A freshman at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Bolton is studying mechanical engineering with an emphasis on motor sports.
To become a sponsor, visit JustinBolton.com and click on marketing.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.