AVONDALE, Ariz. (November 7, 2008) – This year’s Lucas Oil 150 started off with high hopes for the No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment team after Darnell posted the third- quickest time (27.520 seconds) in qualifying placing him inside of row two to start the race. Darnell would stay in the top10 the entire night, but a tight race truck along with worn tires would cost him several spots at the end to finish in seventh place.
Action on the track heated up quickly as pole-sitter and overall point leader Ron Hornaday got loose coming off of turn four bringing out the first caution on lap one. Darnell lost two spots on the first lap and restarted fifth on lap 11.
By lap 16 Darnell was feeling the heat of the No. 2 of Kevin Harvick on his back bumper. One lap later Harvick made his move on the No. 99 in turn two taking over the fifth position. On lap 28, the second yellow flag of the race gave the driver of the No. 99 the chance to update his crew chief on the status of his Ford F-150. Darnell was quick to point out the truck started the race on the loose side, but was now beginning to get tight through turns one and two. After discussing whether or not to bring the truck down pit road, Darnell declined saying track position was too important to give up so early on in the race. The move to stay out kept Darnell in sixth place on the restart.
It wasn’t but one lap later on lap 34 that Darnell had his hands full in a three-wide battle with the No. 30 of Todd Bodine and the No. 19 of Brad Keselowski going into turn two. Darnell was able to fend off his competitors and now had the No. 22 of Scott Speed in his sights. Darnell’s truck was getting faster as the evening went on eventually passing Speed on lap 51 for fifth place.
The only pit stop for the No. 99 NT+E Ford F-150 came on lap 62 during the third caution. Darnell was still having problems with the front end of the truck being tight. Along with fuel, the truck also received four tires and an air pressure adjustment to hopefully get the grip Darnell was lacking through the race so far. He restarted sixth on lap 68.
Seven laps into the restart Darnell communicated to his crew chief that his chassis was starting to come around. However, with his focus now on getting back into the top five, Darnell was trying to hold off the No. 59 of Terry Cook for sixth place. Cook would pass the No. 99 on lap 86, holding onto the spot for the next 37 laps. Darnell grabbed the spot back from Cook on lap 123 after getting a tremendous push by Keselowski going into turn three.
With just under 15 laps to go, Darnell continued his push into the top five when he passed the No. 5 machine of Mike Skinner coming down the frontstretch for fourth place. When the seventh and final caution of the night went back to green on lap 141, Darnell knew he was in for a nine lap shootout. The drama of the final laps faded quickly as the wear of old tires and the reoccurring tightness of the truck showed as Darnell fell to sixth on lap 148. He would drop one more position two laps later to finish the Lucas Oil 150 with a seventh place finish.
“We were tight at the end. It was a rough night for our Northern Tool + Equipment Ford. We got knocked around a little bit in the beginning of the race. We got run into. Our truck was actually pretty decent. I think on the longer run we were as good as the leaders. There toward the end, we got into fourth. In clean air, we were just as fast as the No. 2 [Harvick] and the No. 30 [Bodine]. That last caution really hurt us. We just got really tight after that and I don’t know why. The front end wouldn’t turn, we lost a couple of spots and finished seventh,” said Darnell.
Darnell’s finish now puts him only four points ahead of Matt Crafton for fourth place in the overall standings with just one race to go in the 2008 season. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will end its season on Friday, November 14, 2008 at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the Ford 200 at 8 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 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 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.