MARTINSVILLE, Va. (March 29, 2008) – Martinsville Speedway, one of the most notorious racetracks on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series circuit, is well known for the beating and banging that goes with fighting for positions. Erik Darnell and his No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment team were able to stay out of most of the wrecks on Saturday afternoon to record a fifth-place finish, marking the team’s best result of the 2008 season.
Darnell started 18th on Saturday afternoon, but began to struggle as soon as the green flag dropped. Darnell struggled to find his way to the inside line, and dropped positions to those with the preferred groove. The No. 99 Ford backslid to the 22nd position at lap 25 when Darnell reported that his Northern Tool + Equipment F-150 was “in a four-wheel slide” and lacked overall grip. When the caution flag was displayed at lap 40 for a spin in turn four, Darnell and crew chief Matt Puccia elected to come to pit road for adjustments. The No. 99 team changed four tires, removed a spring rubber from the right rear, added fuel and made a track bar adjustment. Most of the leaders stayed off pit road, lining Darnell up in the 29th position for the restart at lap 45.
Darnell’s struggles continued after the restart, as the handling did not improve following the adjustments. Darnell did what he could to keep his No. 99 moving forward, but when the caution came out at lap 78 for an incident with the No. 7 truck, Darnell and crew elected to come to pit road once again. Puccia decided to make track bar and wedge adjustments to once again take a shot a fixing the handling of Darnell’s F-150.
When the race restarted at lap 90, Darnell was in the 16th position. He reported in the early going of the run that he was still sliding off the corner, but the adjustments had made some improvement. As the laps clicked off, Darnell managed to hold his own and worked his way inside the top 10. A rash of caution flags in the closing laps of the race slowed the pace and Darnell’s progress, but the driver of the No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford was able to pick off positions to record a fifth-place finish, his best showing of the 2008 season.
“Patience was so important today,” said Darnell. “I was frustrated at the beginning of the race. Our Northern Tool + Equipment Ford wasn’t good at all. I don’t know why that was. I thought we got our truck decent in practice yesterday. We didn’t qualify as well as I would have liked and we really fought it today, but we made the right calls on the pit stops. We got our pit stops out of the way early enough to where we could try to make it on a fuel run there and, fortunately for us, we saved enough fuel to make it to the end and picked up a couple of spots. It started out as a bad day and we ended up with a top-five run, so it was a good point day for us. It’s hard to believe that’s our first top 10 of the year, especially with some of the runs we’ve had, but, hopefully we can build on this.”
Following their fifth-place finish at Martinsville, Darnell and the No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment team advanced to the eighth position in the Craftsman Truck Series point standings. The Craftsman Truck Series races next at Kansas Speedway on Saturday, April 26, 2008.
About Northern Tool + Equipment
Northern Tool + Equipment has been a supplier of high-quality tools and equipment for more than 25 years, selling products through direct mail, the Internet and at nearly 60 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, Kvapil and John Wes Townley; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.