MILWAUKEE, Wis. (June 20, 2008) – Erik Darnell and the No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment team came to the Milwaukee Mile riding a wave of momentum after last week’s victory at MIS. Darnell, who grew up only 40 miles south of the track, was hoping to turn in another solid performance in front of friends and family. After qualifying 13th and moving into the lead midway through the race, the No. 99 eventually fell back to fourth with 50 laps to go. Following a red flag due to the lightning, Darnell couldn’t break away from the fourth spot after the delay and ended up holding down the same spot when the checkered flag waved at the Camping World RV Sales 200.
Darnell’s evening began with his Ford F-150 starting from the inside of row seven. The No. 99 moved into 10th after five laps and was reporting the truck being very good through entry, but a little tight off the corner. By lap 25 Darnell had moved up two more spots, but was already 10 seconds off race leader Johnny Benson. The NT+E Ford F-150 stayed in the eighth position for the next 36 laps fighting through lapped traffic.
Scheduled green-flag pit stops were beginning by lap 71 and crew chief Matt Puccia elected to bring Darnell in with Benson for fuel and four tires six laps later. While pitting, a wreck occurred bringing out the second caution of the day and giving the two drivers a significant advantage. Darnell followed Benson out of the pits and the No. 99 eventually took over the second spot on the restart on lap 83 once the rest of the field cycled through their pit stops. Just one lap later Darnell took over the top spot and by lap 90 was putting up the fastest times on the track.
An eight-truck wreck on lap 99 in turn four brought out the third caution, resulting in only15 trucks on the lead lap when racing resumed a few laps later. By lap 109, the No. 14 of Rick Crawford was quickly gaining ground on Darnell and by lap 117 the No. 99 had relinquished the top stop.
Over the next 25 laps, Darnell fell back two more spots to fourth, but only three seconds out of the lead. While in fourth, Darnell radioed in that his No. 99 Ford F-150 was beginning to have a four-wheel slide up the track. A fifth caution on lap 145 allowed Darnell to follow the leaders to pit road for adjustments. The NT+E crew did a fantastic job of getting Darnell off pit road and back in fourth after taking four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment.
Racing stopped five laps later on lap 150 when NASCAR brought out the red flag due to the flashes of lightning around the track. Darnell was shown in the fifth spot during the 30-minute delay, but moved up to fourth following a speeding penalty by Crawford on pit road one lap before. Darnell could not make up any ground following the delay and ended up finishing the race in fourth.
“I don’t know exactly what happened at the end. We just didn’t keep up with the track as well as we needed to. Our Northern Tool + Equipment Ford F-150 was really good in the middle of the race. After our first pit stop we took tires and were able to drive right up into the lead and drive away from everybody. At that point, I thought the truck was doing really well. I thought we were in pretty good shape. We just weren’t good on the longer runs. We started sliding backwards a little bit. On that last pit stop we tried to hit it with some adjustments and new tires and missed it by a little bit. We weren’t quite as we good as we were in the middle part of the race. We just rode it out and finished fourth,” said Darnell.
The fourth-place showing by Darnell now gives him four top-five finishes for 2008. He also moved up two spots in the overall Craftsman Truck Series standings to eighth. The win by Benson puts the No. 99 NT+E team 182 points out of the top spot. Up next for Darnell is the O’Reilly 200 at Memphis Motorsports Park on Saturday, June 28, 2008 at 9 p.m.
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.