Want to drive a NASCAR truck? Are you savvy with Super Late Models on dirt? If your answer to both is yes, Niece Motorsports has what you’re looking for!
On Wednesday, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team announced the launch of the “Win & You’re In” programme, organised in collaboration with the Gateway Dirt Nationals. Held at the Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, the Nationals’ Super Late Model class is the scope of the programme as the winner of the feature on 3 December will get to race in the Truck Series event at Knoxville Raceway, one of two dirt rounds on the Truck calendar, on 18 June 2022.
The “Gong Show” is not a new concept in racing. Prior to the 2021 season, fellow Truck team McAnally-Hilgemann Racing formed the BMR Driver Academy, a series of late model events for a pool of candidates with the winner entering the Truck season finale. However, the plan fell through after the winning driver, whose identity was not disclosed by the team, failed to receive approval by NASCAR. Other contests to place drivers in NASCAR seats included RFK Racing‘s Driver X show in the 2000s and Michael Waltrip Racing’s PEAK Dream Stock Car Challenge in 2012, though both programmes and the BMR Academy span multiple events rather than just one race.
“So many of us at this organisation cut our teeth in racing at dirt tracks,” said Niece Motorsports general manager Cody Efaw. “I truly believe that these drivers are some of the most talented in the country, so we’re excited to give someone another platform to showcase their abilities.”
The Gateway Dirt Nationals Super Late Model race was won by Tyler Carpenter in 2019. Previous winners include Scott Bloomquist and Bobby Pierce, both of whom have made Truck starts at Eldora when it was the lone dirt track on a NASCAR calendar.
“When we sat down and put this together, it really got me excited to think about it,” commented race promoter Cody Sommer. “Imagine if Tyler Carpenter would have won this in 2019; this opportunity for that grassroots-level racer is truly once in a lifetime and it just feels great to be a part of something like this for this year’s event.”
Niece will field three full-time trucks: the #42 for Carson Hocevar, #44 for Dean Thompson, and #45 for Lawless Alan. Assuming no midseason changes for the trio, the Gateway winner will likely be in a fourth part-time and/or multi-driver truck. Although Niece’s press release used a graphic that implied the winner would pilot the #42, the team clarified in a tweet that is not the case.