Yates Racing names Darnell for seven races

ERIK DARNELL TO DRIVE SEVEN NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES RACES IN 2009 CONCORD, N.C. (August 31, 2009) -- Max Jones, co-owner of Yates Racing, announced today that former NASCAR Camping World Series Rookie-of--the-Year and current NASCAR...

ERIK DARNELL TO DRIVE SEVEN NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES RACES IN 2009

CONCORD, N.C. (August 31, 2009) -- Max Jones, co-owner of Yates Racing, announced today that former NASCAR Camping World Series Rookie-of--the-Year and current NASCAR Nationwide Series driver, Erik Darnell will be behind the wheel of the No. 96 entry in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for seven races this season.

Darnell will make his Sprint Cup Series debut Labor Day weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the No. 96 Academy Sports & Outdoors Ford Fusion. He also is slated to pilot the No. 96 at Loudon, Kansas, Talladega, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead.

Darnell will carry the familiar colors of Northern Tool + Equipment for the Loudon and Kansas races. Academy Sports & Outdoors will be Darnell's primary sponsor at Atlanta, Talladega and Texas.

"Racing in the Cup Series is every driver's goal. The Cup Series is where the best of the best compete and I am looking forward to racing against those guys," said Darnell. "I'm excited that Northern Tool + Equipment will be able to make the jump with me and that Academy Sports & Outdoors has agreed to sponsor me as well. I am confident that this team can give both of these great sponsors' good runs in these upcoming races."

Bobby Labonte will continue to race the No. 96 Ford Fusion under the Hall of Fame Racing banner with Ask.com and DLP as his primary sponsors at Richmond, Dover, Fontana, Charlotte and Martinsville.

"This is a move that will be beneficial to Yates Racing surviving this difficult economic time," said Bobby Labonte. "Of course, I'm disappointed that the sponsorship environment is so challenging right now, but I intend to make the most out of the remaining races that I'm behind the wheel for Ask.com, DLP and Hall of Fame Racing."

"Yates Racing and Hall of Fame have a one-year agreement that committed Yates Racing to field Bobby Labonte in the races where Ask.com and DLP were the primary sponsors. Not all the Sprint Cup races were sponsored and Yates Racing took the sole risk for finding sponsors for those races," Jones. "We were left with a handful of races that have gone unsponsored to this point. Northern Tool has been Erik's primary sponsor in both the Nationwide and Truck Series, and they were willing to help Erik and Yates Racing this year. We believe Erik is an extremely talented driver, ready for a shot at racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. We are looking forward to seeing Erik progress as a driver and hopefully become a full-time driver in the Cup Series."

Darnell ran three full NASCAR Camping World Series seasons and scored three poles, two wins, 16 top-five and 32 top-10 finishes. He won Rookie-of-the-Year honors in 2005. In the Nationwide Series, Darnell has just 11 starts, but so far has achieved one pole, two top-five and five top-10 finishes -- he has led 20 laps.

-credit: yr

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Series NASCAR-CUP