MWS: Eric Darnell - NASCAR spotlight

AFTER HISTORIC 2004 NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION CAMPAIGN, ERIK DARNELL KICKS OFF 2005 SEASON AT ROCKFORD SPEEDWAY DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 18, 2005) -- Erik Darnell (AMI Trailer Leasing Chevrolet) traveled more highway miles than any other...

AFTER HISTORIC 2004 NASCAR AUTOZONE ELITE DIVISION CAMPAIGN, ERIK DARNELL KICKS OFF 2005 SEASON AT ROCKFORD SPEEDWAY

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 18, 2005) -- Erik Darnell (AMI Trailer Leasing Chevrolet) traveled more highway miles than any other NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division competitor in 2004, campaigning the full Southeast Series schedule and all but two of the Midwest Series races. He scored his first career Southeast Series win in July while capturing his first Midwest Series win in September.

All the racing paid off for Darnell, a resident of Beach Park, Ill., last November when he caught the eye of noted NASCAR team owner Jack Roush. Darnell earned an invitation to Roush Racing's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series "Race for the Ride" audition, held at North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway and Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. Darnell finished runner-up in the audition to Todd Kluever but made such a solid impression that he was recently signed to a driver development program with the Roush organization.

"The 'Race for the Ride' audition was such a great experience," said Darnell. "Just to be asked to audition was a great honor and then to sign a development contract with Roush is just incredible."

Darnell joins the Roush organization which includes Greg Biffle, Mark Martin, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards and Midwest Series graduate Matt Kenseth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and Ricky Craven and Kluever in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Roush Racing has won the last two NEXTEL Cup Series titles.

While Darnell's full 2005 racing schedule is still in the works, one thing is for certain; he plans on participating in the Midwest Series opener, April 2-3 at the Rockford (Ill.) Speedway.

"Rockford is close to my home and we always look forward to getting a new season started," said Darnell. "We do have a lot of work to do, however. Just last week our car was a bare chassis."

The 28th annual running of the speedways Spring Classic weekend will feature Midwest Series practice, qualifying and time trials on April 2 with a 150-lap main event scheduled for April 3 at 1:00 p.m. (CT).

In addition to the Midwest Series, the Mid-American Stock Cars, Northern Late Models and Big 8 Limited Late Model Series will also see action as part of the Spring Classic weekend.

Rockford Speedway is located at the intersection of Forest Hills Road and Hwy. 173 in Rockford, Ill. Further weekend schedule information and ticket prices can be obtained by visitingwww.rockfordspeedway.com or calling (815) 633-1500.

Fast Facts

What: Spring Classic 150 (NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Midwest Series, Race 1).

Where: Rockford (Ill.) Speedway.
When: 1:00 p.m. (CT), Sunday, April 3.

Track layout: .29167-mile banked paved oval.
Race length: 150 laps, 43.75 miles.

2004 winner: Steve Carlson.
2004 Bud Pole winner: Justin Diercks

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Ricky Craven , Carl Edwards , Jack Roush , Todd Kluever , Erik Darnell , Justin Diercks , Steve Carlson