LOUDON, N.H. (September 13, 2008) - Erik Darnell came to Loudon feeding off of his second-place finish the year before hoping this would be the scene where he would pick up his second win of 2008. This time around though, Darnell fought a tight race truck throughout most of the day eluding him of that possible win. Even though he had high hopes of a better finish, grabbing fourth place moves the No. 99 team up one spot to sixth in the overall Craftsman Truck Series standings.
The Camping World RV Rental 200 began Saturday afternoon with the No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford F-150 starting from the eighth position based off of owner points. Rain showers the day before washed out the second practice session and forced NASCAR officials to cancel qualifying Saturday morning due to the track’s tight schedule surrounding Sunday’s Sprint Cup race. Darnell made his way up to the sixth position by lap two, but reported just eight laps later that his Ford F-150 was really tight forcing the front tires to slide up the track. Darnell stayed out with the leaders and by lap 18 was holding onto the sixth spot securely putting up times as fast as race leader Ron Hornaday.
By lap 37 Darnell had found the back bumper of Mike Skinner eventually passing him one lap later going into turn two taking over the fifth spot. Darnell picked up another position before the third caution came out on lap 50 bringing the leaders in for their first stop of the afternoon. Darnell said his truck was beginning to come around, but still reporting it being fairly tight. The No. 99 came down pit road taking four tires, fuel and both wedge and air pressure adjustments. Quick work by the NT+E crew got Darnell back out on the track in the fourth position, but he certainly would have picked up one or two more spots had it not been for the No. 17 of Timothy Peters not pulling into his pit stall the entire way forcing the No. 99 to back up and go around him.
The adjustments to the No. 99 Ford F-150 seemed to be doing the job as Darnell passed Johnny Benson on lap 60 for third-place and just 23 laps later passed Crafton for the second time of the day. Darnell held onto the second spot for 38 laps until teammate Travis Kvapil driving the No. 09 passed the NT+E Ford F-150.
When green-flag stops began on lap 126 with Hornday taking the lead, crew chief Matt Puccia decided to bring Darnell in on lap 132. The truck received four tires, fuel, another air pressure adjustment and raised the track bar half-a-round. Darnell came off pit road in 12th place, but was back in third by lap 138 once green-flag stops had cycled through.
For the next 40 laps the No. 99 held onto third-place, but during this time Darnell reported to his crew chief that his truck was again tightening up on him with the front tires skating up the track. Darnell was passed by Benson with just 24 laps to go putting the No. 99 in fourth-place. The remaining laps saw Darnell continue to fight a tight race truck, but he was able to hold off the No. 14 of Rick Crawford with just a few laps to go to hold onto to a fourth-place finish.
“Our Northern Tool + Equipment Ford was pretty good today. We weren’t great. The middle part of the race I think we were better than the 33 and just as good as the 09, but track position was real important. I guess we had track position at the end, but it was hard to pass back there and we didn’t have the truck where we needed it to be. It seemed like we could go for about two or three laps on a short run, but then it would fall off a little bit and then it would start to pick up again. In the middle of the race, I felt like our truck was really strong. We could run lap times faster than the No. 33, and I think us and the No. 09 were about the two fastest trucks on the track at that point, but I guess we got a little bit behind with the track. The track changed more than I thought it would toward the end of the race with the sun going down and upset our truck more than I thought it would, so we weren’t quite where we needed to be at the end,” said Darnell.
The New Hampshire finish puts Darnell sixth in the overall standings. The No. 99 NT+E team is only four points out of the top five and only eight points away from the fourth spot. Darnell will climb back into his Ford F-150 for the Qwik Liner Las Vegas 350 on Saturday, September 20th at 9:00 p.m. ET.
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, John Wes Townley and Bobby East; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.