FT. WORTH, Texas (June 6, 2008) -- Erik Darnell and the No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment team had high expectations coming into Friday night’s Sam’s Town 400. Even though Darnell began the day in the 22nd spot, he would soon find himself in the top 10. Unfortunately, a flat tire midway through the race followed by a black flag penalty would put the No. 99 Ford F-150 four laps down and finishing 24th.
Darnell and his NT+E Ford F-150 began the evening in the 11th row after qualifying 22nd the day before. Only one lap into the race, the No. 99 quickly made its way up through the field taking over the 16th position. By lap 30 Darnell was putting up solid lap times and it showed with the truck breaking into the top 10 in the ninth position.
Two laps later when the first caution of the day came out due to debris, Darnell reported the truck being loose throughout the race track. The NT+E Ford followed the leaders on to pit road making track bar and air pressure adjustments, taking four tires and fuel. The No. 99 restarted 10th when the race went back green flag racing at lap 37.
Over the next 20 laps, Darnell reported his race truck still loose off entry and in the throttle. The No. 99 Ford F-150 was quickly losing ground on the leaders and by lap 56 had fallen to 14th. The team was able to work on the truck again when the yellow flag came out on lap 66. Along with fuel and another set of tires, the crew made track bar, wedge and air pressure adjustments to help control the oversteer. Darnell marched the No. 99 back on the track holding down the 16th spot.
Five laps later and with a brand new set of tires on his Ford F-150, Darnell told crew chief Matt Puccia the truck was still loose in the corners. The No. 99 came in this time just for fuel and another track bar adjustment hoping the current set of tires would come in eventually.
On the restart on lap 92, the No.99 suffered a flat right-front tire going into turn one. The flat did not bring out a caution and Darnell had to bring his Ford F-150 into the pits under green. On top of the flat tire, the next several minutes would prove costly for the NT+E team. The crew quickly went to work putting on a fresh set of right-side tires. After successfully replacing the damaged tire, the crew encountered a jammed lug nut on the right rear keeping the No.99 in the pits even longer. When Darnell eventually made it off pit road, he was quickly notified by his crew chief he was being black flagged because of running a over a hose that was used minutes before to put on the new right-front tire. This caused Darnell to return to pit road to serve his penalty. Once Darnell got back to racing he was now four laps down and in 28th.
Darnell put up competitive lap times for the rest of the race, but it was way too late. The No. 99 Ford F-150 could not make up the four laps and ended up finishing 24th.
"It was a frustrating night, again. That's the way our luck has been going. We cut a right-front tire on the restart getting into turn one. Then we had to do a drive through penalty after that. And then that got us a couple of laps down and we never could recover from that. We were actually pretty decent again today. This was the same Northern Tool + Equipment Ford F-150 that we had in Charlotte. We're happy it's still in one piece. We'll tune on it and go to the next one," said Darnell.
The 24th- place finish keeps the NT+E team 12th in the overall Craftsman Truck Series standings, but 222 points behind point leader and tonight’s winner Ron Hornaday. Darnell and the No. 99 team will try and rebound from two weeks of disappointing finishes when they travel next week to Michigan for the Cool City Customs 200 on Saturday, June 14, 2008.
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.