NASCAR‘s upcoming weekend at Darlington Raceway would be the sanctioning physique’s “throwback weekend”, a time for groups and drivers to have fun historical past with particular liveries. Niece Motorsports appears to be taking issues to a different stage by having a throwback driver within the #45 Chevrolet Silverado for Friday’s Tenting World Truck Collection race: Erik Darnell, who final raced in NASCAR in 2012 and within the Vehicles 4 years prior, is scheduled to drive the #45 in Friday’s LiftKits4Less 200.
Darnell raced within the Truck Collection from 2006 to 2008 for Roush Fenway Racing. After ending twelfth in factors in his first two years, he broke by way of in 2008 with a fourth-place championship end. In 76 profession begins, he has thirty-two top-ten finishes and two victories. His progress in Roush’s driver improvement programme additionally noticed him win twice within the now-ARCA Menards Collection.
Nevertheless, his burgeoning profession with Roush got here to a grinding halt over the subsequent two years as sponsorship troubles prevented him from making the correct bounce to the subsequent stage. In 2009, he ran sixteen races in what’s now the Xfinity Collection for Roush, throughout which he notched 5 high tens and a pole, and likewise started competing within the Cup Collection for Corridor of Fame Racing. He left Roush after racing simply thrice in 2010 and ended up in a backmarker Cup trip for 2011.
His closing 12 months of NASCAR racing got here in 2012 when he entered all however one Xfinity race for Key Motorsports, ending seventeenth within the standings with a greatest run of fourteenth at Talladega. That 12 months’s finale at Homestead, the place he completed thirty-eighth, remained his closing begin in any NASCAR nationwide sequence for the subsequent decade.
Whereas he had not raced in NASCAR since, Darnell continued his profession briefly tracks. Talking with Speed51 in 2017, he famous that though he was “fully out of the NASCAR facet of issues” and was not aiming for a return, he wouldn’t fully rule it out ought to the chance come up.
Darnell has by no means raced at Darlington within the Truck Collection because it was faraway from the calendar previous to his full-time début, however he has a fourth-place end there within the Xfinity Collection in 2009.
Niece Motorsports has raised eyebrows with its shock names in recent times; for instance, 2012 Truck champion James Buescher final raced in NASCAR in 2015 however joined the crew in late 2020 and for the 2021 season opener. Travis Pastrana, Conor Daly, and Trevor Bayne have additionally pushed for the crew; like Darnell and ex-Niece full-timer Ty Majeski, the trio has ties to Roush, as does some crew personnel like Niece common supervisor Cody Efaw. The #45 was pushed by Brett Moffitt to begin the 12 months earlier than he switched to Xfinity factors, and Bayley Currey piloted it final week at Kansas.
The 38-year-old Darnell shouldn’t be the primary driver in 2021 to return to the Truck Collection after final racing there within the 2000s. Invoice Lester and Martin Truex Jr. respectively raced at Atlanta and Bristol of their first Truck begins since 2007 and 2006.