Lebanon, TN (June 6, 2009) – Erik Darnell entered the Federated Auto Parts 300 on Saturday night with only two other previous starts in 2009. He was hoping to capitalize on his phenomenal finish at Darlington bringing the same car to Nashville. This time though something was off with the car beginning with the first practice and all the way through to the conclusion of tonight’s race. Darnell however fought through his car troubles and managed to come away with a ninth-place finish.
Darnell and his No. 6 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford Fusion rolled off the starting grid at Nashville Superspeedway from the 27th position. Action got started right away as Darnell was part of a three-wide pack going into turn one. He emerged without incident climbing his way up to 23rd by lap 11. Over the course of the next 10 laps Darnell dropped two spots radioing to his Crew Chief Mike Kelley that the car was really free, with no front-end grip. Kelley told his driver not to worry and that the team would fix him up on the next caution. Two laps later the No. 6 entered pit road taking four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Darnell restarted 25th when the green flag dropped on lap 27.
The pit stop seemed to do the trick as Darnell moved himself up to 14th by lap 68. However, even with the car running well, Darnell was now beginning to fight tightness with his car. As the leaders began heading to pit road during this time for their green flag stops, the No. 6 stayed out due to the stop earlier making it all the way up to fourth-place by lap 77. Sixteen laps later though it was Darnell’s turn to make his green flag stop taking both track bar and wedge adjustments, fuel and four tires. The NT+E crew did quick work of the car, but it forced Darnell to go down a lap. Once the field had cycled through stops by lap 104, Darnell was now shown in 14th-place.
When the third caution of the night came out on lap 113 Darnell was back on the radio communicating to Kelley that the front-end of the car was getting tight again. Kelley told his driver just to keep it up because if he could hold his spot on the track the next caution would give him the Lucky Dog award; putting the No. 6 back on the lead lap. As Darnell and the No. 62 of Brendan Gaughan who was also down a lap were battling for position on the track, the caution came out. The two were neck and neck when the yellow fell, but Darnell edged Gaughan out getting his lap back. With his position on the lead lap confirmed, Darnell came down to his pit stall getting the same adjustments as he previously received on the last stop. The NT+E Ford Fusion was now in 10th-place when racing went back to action on lap 131.
By lap 179, Darnell who was still holding onto 10th was putting up lap times as fast as leader Kyle Busch. The only problem was that Busch was creeping up on the No. 6 eventually passing it on lap 185 and putting Darnell down a lap. As the scenario played out again with the leaders heading to pit road for finally green flag stops, the No. 6 bolted to the third spot with just 28 laps to go. There was no way Darnell could stay up front for the remaining laps without heading to pit road one more time. On lap 202 Kelley made the call to take just two tires and fuel to keep track position. Even by going down a lap for the third time tonight, the call proved to be pivotal as Darnell closed out a frustrating race to finish in ninth.
“To finish where we did tonight with what we had, is pretty amazing. We had a different setup for the car and it just didn’t run as well as would have liked. The car was loose at the beginning of the race than it got tight; we just couldn’t find the right setup. Qualifying was bad which placed us back in the pack to start the race. It’s never a good thing when you have a car that just doesn’t feel right. We made adjustments throughout the race that did help; it just wasn’t a good car from the start. We’ve got to move on from tonight and get ready for Kentucky,” said Darnell.
The ninth-pace finish moved the No. 6 NT+E team up to eighth in the owner points. Darnell looks to rebound from tonight’s race when the Nationwide Series returns to action on Saturday, June 13 for the Meijer 300 Presented by Ritz at Kentucky Speedway at 8:30 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 70 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 nine motorsports teams. Five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with drivers Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and David Ragan; three in the Nationwide Series with Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, McMurray, Ragan, Erik Darnell, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Colin Braun; and one in the Camping World Truck Series with Braun. For more information on any of the Roush Fenway Racing teams, log onto www.RoushFenway.com. For sponsorship inquiries please contact Robin Johnson at 704.720.4645.