CONCORD, N.C. (July 2, 2008) - Around this time two months ago, Erik Darnell and the No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment team had their backs up against the wall. They had just come off a 28th-place finish at Kansas two weeks earlier and were sitting 13th in the overall standings. Their season up to this point was considered a disappointment by many with only one top-10 finish (fifth in Martinsville) to show for after five races. However, the team thought differently. They saw seven consecutive weeks of racing coming up and used that as motivation to get their season turned around. Fast forward eight weeks later and this team has put themselves in a spot to contend for a Craftsman Truck Series championship with 13 races to go.
It looked as if the tide was starting to change already for Darnell after just one race into the seven week stretch when he drove his NT+E Ford F-150 to a fourth-place finish at Charlotte. The strong finish put the team back in the top-10 and gave them a boost of confidence heading into the coming weeks.
But just as the Darnell was starting to gain some momentum following Charlotte, a string of bad finishes in particular Dover and Texas put the No. 99 team back in an all too familiar spot. Following a decent day at Mansfield with Darnell finishing 11th, miscues over the next two weeks saw the driver of the NT+E Ford finish 24th and 25th and a team looking for answers.
“The trucks have been good all year. There have been a couple of places where we should have had top-five runs and either got wrecked or blew tires. We've been strong all year. We just don't have all the finishes to show for it,” said Darnell.
With the NT+E team currently sitting 12th in the standings following the Dover and Texas debacles, Darnell came back with three impressive top-five finishes at Michigan, Milwaukee and Memphis. In the process, Darnell broke a 29 winless race streak by capturing his first victory of the 2008 season by winning the Cool City Customs 200. Darnell has led an impressive 57 laps over the final three races. But more importantly the turnaround moved the NT+E team into seventh-place in the Craftsman Truck Series standings.
Darnell attributes his recent success to several things including a little bit of luck.
“We've had some luck on our side and we've been able to roll with it. All the guys back in the shop have been working their butts off to get good trucks put together and I think it's been showing since that win in Michigan. We've been on a pretty good roll and we're looking to keep it up. Now that I think we've finally got that going, it's built some confidence in me and in the team. We've been able to really get some momentum going here. Pit stops have been good. We've been catching breaks out on the track, cautions have been falling our way and everything has been going the way we need it to and because of that we've been able to put together top-five runs and that's just what we need to do throughout the rest of the year to be in this championship hunt,” added Darnell.
About Northern Tool + Equipment
Northern Tool + Equipment has been a supplier of high-quality tools and equipment for more than 27 years, selling products through direct mail, the Internet and at nearly 65 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 operates 13 full-time motorsports teams, five in NASCAR Sprint Cup with drivers Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; four in the Nationwide Series with Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, McMurray, Ragan, Erik Darnell and Colin Braun; three in the Craftsman Truck Series with Darnell, Braun, Travis Kvapil and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.