CONCORD, N.C. (December 4, 2007) – Erik Darnell’s 2007 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season started with high hopes, with the driver of the No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford fully expecting to contend for the series championship. Early misfortunes saw those hopes expire, but Darnell was able to pick up his first win and seven other top-10 finishes en route to a 12th-place finish in the final point standings.
“We had an up-and-down year, that’s for sure,” said Darnell. “There were times that we had some terrible luck, times that we struggled a little bit with setups, and other times when things didn’t seem to be going well at all but worked out in the end. It was a roller coaster of a year.”
Darnell’s season started out with a 12th-place finish in the season-opening race at Daytona, and heading into the fifth race of the season at Kansas, the sophomore driver had yet to score a top-10 finish. Things changed that Saturday afternoon, as Darnell and his No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment team picked up their first win. Just as quickly as things changed for the better, bad luck reared it’s head once again, as the team would go another six races before scoring its second top-10 finish of the season at Milwaukee.
“We really hoped that once we got the win in Kansas that we knocked the monkey off our backs,” Darnell said. “But it wasn’t to be. We got wrecked the next week at Charlotte, and struggled with other wrecks and an engine failure for the next few weeks. It really felt like we couldn’t buy a break for a while. It seemed like if there was a wreck somewhere on the track, we were bound to be a part of it. Two races this year we got wrecked on the first lap. It was pretty hard to deal with, we were all extremely frustrated with our performance.”
Darnell’s season began to turn around, as the team picked up four top-10 finishes in the next six races. But that improvement wasn’t enough for team owner Jack Roush. Roush made the call to swap crews between the Nos. 50 and 99 trucks, pairing Darnell with crew chief Matt Puccia. Having swapped crews over the years in all three series, expectations were high for the No. 99 team. They came out of the box strong, scoring a second-place finish in their first race together at New Hampshire. They followed it up by finishing fifth the next week at Las Vegas before bad luck once again reared its head.
“I think everyone had pretty high hopes for things after we ran so well in our first two races,” said Darnell. “We had terrible finishes the rest of the year. Most of the time it was not indicative of our performance. We would run well, but we’d get caught up in someone else’s problems. I think we all really looked forward to Homestead and ending the season. We tried to make the most of it, but it just seemed like we were having that kind of year, where we were consistently having problems no matter where we were running.
“Needless to say, we’re all looking forward to 2008, and starting over,” Darnell continued. “We’re going to look forward to putting together the year we should have had in ’07. We’ve got a great team, and we know that we’re capable of competing for wins on a weekly basis. We’re going to do whatever we can to make sure our Northern Tool + Equipment Ford contends for the 2008 series championship.”
About Northern Tool + Equipment
Northern Tool + Equipment has been a supplier of high-quality tools and equipment for more than 26 years, selling products through direct mail, the Internet and over 60 retail locations in 11 states. Along with a deep selection of hand, power and air tools, Northern Tool + Equipment carries a wide variety of products, including generators, pressure washers, air compressors, hydraulics, small engines, trailers, water pumps, tractors, welding equipment and much more. Northern Tool + Equipment also serves as the exclusive distributor of NorthStarTM brand equipment, which is fabricated and assembled at the company's 250,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility. For more information, visit www.northerntool.com.
About Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing is NASCAR’s largest team operating 14 motorsports teams, five in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup with drivers Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; five in the Busch Series with Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, McMurray, Ragan, Todd Kluever, Michel Jourdain Jr. and Danny O’Quinn Jr.; and three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Edwards, Peter Shepherd, Travis Kvapil, Erik Darnell and T.J. Bell; and one in the ARCA/REMAX Series with Colin Braun and Darnell.