Erik Darnell makes his NASCAR Nationwide Series and road racing debut this weekend at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City. Darnell talks about working with teammate Colin Braun and road race expert Boris Said before taking to the track...
Erik Darnell makes his NASCAR Nationwide Series and road racing debut this weekend at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City. Darnell talks about working with teammate Colin Braun and road race expert Boris Said before taking to the track for this weekend's race. Darnell is the fulltime driver of the No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford F-150 in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR THIS WEEKEND? "I don't know. It's kind of difficult. Not only is this my first Nationwide Series race, it's also my first real road course race. I've run a couple [road course] races in a Late Model, the former NASCAR Southwest Series and the NASCAR Midwest Series. I ran one road race a piece in those series, so I have a little bit of experience doing it, but nothing in a heavy car. This is going to be totally new to me. We did go to VIR and tested about a month ago. I thought the test went pretty well, for me never really having been in one of these things before. Hopefully, that will carry over to today."
DO YOU LIKE ROAD RACING? ARE YOU COMFORTABLE? "This is something I'm not really used to, but the two races I did in the Late Model, is probably the most fun I've ever had in a race car. It's just totally different from the normal oval track experience, turning left and right, braking, shifting. It's something that's completely different from what I'm used to, but it's a lot of fun. So, I'm looking forward to running the race this weekend."
HOW DO YOU ADJUST FROM BEING IN THE FORD F-150 TRUCK TO THIS RACE FUSION? "The big difference between the two is the aerodynamics or the way they go through the air on the bigger tracks. On short tracks you don't really notice a difference too much. We have the same engine and the same spacer this year, so we're both down in horsepower, so that aspect of it is not too much different. If we ran here in the truck or the Nationwide car, I don't think you'd really be able to tell the difference on a road course or a short track. There is not a whole lot to adjust to other than vision and being able to see out of them, is a big thing. You can see a lot out of the trucks and not so much out of these Nationwide cars."
TALK ABOUT HOW YOU WILL USE THE SPOTTER? "We're going to have two spotters here. We're going to have one down at one end of the track and one at the other. I should be covered as far as the spotting goes. It will be a fun experience."
CAN YOU TAKE ANYTHING FROM THIS WEEKEND BACK TO THE TRUCKS? "Probably not. I don't think anything from this race is going to carry over to any of the truck stuff, but it will help me out down the line should I move up to Nationwide or Cup series. I think this will give me a little bit of experience doing this stuff because you do have to do this a couple of times a year. It's not going to be a bad thing by any means. It's just something that I'm going to have to get used to and it's going to be new to me."
YOUR TEAMMATE COLIN BRAUN IS USED TO BE A ROOKIE IN THE TRUCK SERIES. HE HAS A LOT OF ROAD COURSE EXPERIENCE AND NOW YOU'RE THE ROOKIE, WHAT CAN YOU LEARN FROM HIM? "He helped me out a little bit when we went to the VIR test and actually Boris Said helped me out quite a bit too. I got to ride around in the two-seater car with him. They helped me out with braking points, lines out there. This stuff is completely different than oval racing. Something I can help Colin with on the oval track, obviously isn't going to apply here. But he has so much experience with road courses that he can kind of help me out with the deal like this, which he has been able to do. Him and Eddie [Pardue] and the guys on the 16 car, they were fast when they tested at VIR, so I did learn a little bit from him. Hopefully, some of that will carry over into today."
-credit: ford racing