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October 5, 2008 1:43 PM

A Day Full of Promise Turns Sour for Darnell Finishing 12th at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Ala. (October 4, 2008) – The Mountain Dew 250 was lining up Saturday afternoon to be a day dominated by Roush Fenway Racing. Erik Darnell commanded his No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford F-150 to the pole Friday afternoon after a time of 52.687 seconds. Teammates Jon Wes Townley and Colin Braun followed in line behind Darnell taking the second and third spots. Darnell would lead a race-high 48 laps, while conquering the first half of the race. The second half would prove to a different story as the No. 99 had to play catch up, which was just too difficult on a track where if you are not running the right line the result can be devastating. Darnell raced his Ford F-150 to a 12th-place finish.  

Polesitter Darnell and his No. 99 NT+E Ford F-150 led the 33-truck field down the front stretch to begin Saturday afternoon’s race under bright blue skies. Darnell quickly took control of the lead around the 2.66- mile track while those behind him soon fell into single formation by lap four. However, four laps later the single file line broke free from the No. 99 and a second group of trucks began to form on the outside attempting to make their way up front. The plan fizzled as the second caution of the race on lap 18 brought the field down pit road. Darnell couldn’t have been more pleased with his Ford F-150 as he told crew chief Matt Puccia the chassis was handling really well on the track. After a two-tire change on the right side and taking fuel, Darnell sped away keeping the top spot when racing resumed on lap 22.

Just one lap later though Darnell reported a vibration with the truck, with a possible tire going down. Puccia told Darnell to keep driving and to let him know immediately if the problem persisted. The vibration eventually went away and the No. 99 machine maintained the lead around the superspeedway.

The next 26 laps went by with no cautions and Puccia made the call to bring Darnell in on lap 50 for a green-flag stop. The NT+E Ford F-150 received four tires and fuel, and made it swiftly back on the track in the 19th position. Eight laps later, green-flag stops had cycled through with Todd Bodine shown as the leader and Darnell now in second place.

With just 28 laps to go and fuel a possible issue for the No. 99, a fourth caution allowed Darnell to come to the pits to top off. The stop was a little longer than expected forcing the No. 99 to restart sixth with just 18 laps left. Only one lap into the restart, Darnell had already fallen to 12th place after being sandwiched in the middle of three-wide racing and no help in sight. By lap 81, the slide continued as the No. 99 was now shown in 18th. 

Darnell soon got the help he needed in the likes of the No. 81 of Landon Cassill and No. 40 of Jeff Green. The No. 99 received pushes from the two drivers throughout different parts of the track and it showed as Darnell jumped up to fifth-place with just two laps to go. The final laps would prove to be costly as the No. 99 fell back seven spots and crossed the finish line in 12th-place.  

“It’s a little frustrating. I’ve got to thank Matt Puccia and all the guys back in the body shop for all the work they did on these trucks. All three of the Roush Fenway trucks were real fast today and ours was really good up front. It just seemed like once I got back in traffic a little bit I never really could get anybody to help me too much. I’d get a run and somebody would duck back down in line. I made a couple of dumb moves trying to get back up to the front back there because I was frustrated trying to get back to the front of the field and ended up costing us in the end. It’s frustrating,” said Darnell. 

The 12th-place finish bumps the No. 99 NT+ E team down to the fifth spot in the overall standings with just five races to go. Darnell is now 20 points away from fourth-place and 38 from third. Next stop for the Craftsman Truck Series will be Martinsville Speedway for the Kroger 200 on Saturday, October 18th at 3:00 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 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, John Wes Townley and Bobby East; and one in the ARCA RE/MAX Series with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

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