Kansas: Race winner interview

ERIK DARNELL -99-Northern Tool + Equipment Ford F-150 (Finished 1st) "Well, when I went out to qualify today I really didn't know what we were going to have underneath the truck. We struggled with it during the early practice yesterday morning,...

ERIK DARNELL -99-Northern Tool + Equipment Ford F-150 (Finished 1st)

"Well, when I went out to qualify today I really didn't know what we were going to have underneath the truck. We struggled with it during the early practice yesterday morning, and we threw some springs at the front end of the thing and never got a chance to go try them because second practice was rained out. So, I really didn't know what we were going to have underneath us. We went out to qualify, the splitter hit the track, we knocked it off and we had to pull it out of line and start at the back of the pack. What John Quinn and all the guys did to the truck, all of the changes they made to it really worked because we were able to, from the start, just drive right through the field up to the front. We kinda stalled out once we got up to about eighth or ninth, but we made our pit stop and made some adjustments and we were able to drive to front from there. On our last pit stop, we fine-tuned it a little bit more, and our Northern Tool + Equipment Ford was unbelievable today. Anybody could have driven that thing."

WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO COME BACK FROM LAST NIGHT'S SECOND-PLACE ARCA FINISH TO WIN TODAY?

"Well, it was huge. First, I think that all of the laps that I got yesterday in the ARCA race helped me out today just because I was able to get a feel for what the car was going to do in the afternoon and get a feel for what the track was going to do as far as the second groove coming in. I think all that last night helped us. It was disappointing not to win it last night. We were just not quite where we needed to be, but with the truck tonight, we were spot on and I think it showed. We were just able to kinda drive away from everybody today."

HOW WAS THE SECOND GROOVE?

"Well for me coming from the back, it came into play quite a bit just because I was able to go to the high side and get around trucks pretty easily. I was three wide a couple of times in the beginning trying to make my way up through there. I think because we ran it quite a bit in the ARCA race yesterday, we got some rubber laid down and there were actually a lot of guys up there running in it. I'm happy to see that it is kinda coming in like that because it makes the track a little bit more racier than it has been in the past."

HOW MUCH FUN IS IT TO DRIVE A TRUCK THAT IS THAT FAST?

"Unbelievable. And, it makes my job a lot easier when those guys give me a piece like that. For me, I was just holding the steering wheel. That's about all I had to do. The thing was so fast. Not to say that I wasn't going as hard as I could when I was out in front there, but I was kinda taking it easy because we were able to pull away as much as we could. I think the setup that we have underneath this thing is something that we can take to some of the other mile-and-a-half intermediate tracks, and hopefully we can have some success there as well."

WHERE DID YOU FEEL THE TURNING POINT OF THE RACE WAS FOR YOU TODAY?

"The first pit stop. When we drove through the field the first time - and I knew the truck was good and I knew we had a good piece - but we got up to about eighth or ninth and just kinda stalled out. Skinner and some of those guys that were up were still driving away from us, so at that point I knew we had to make some changes on it. When we came down pit road, John Quinn, he made the right call and my whole pit crew did a great job with the pit stop. They pulled off a good stop. I think we picked up a spot or two, and that was the turning point for me because once we went back out on the track and it went green, we were able to drive right past Sprague for the lead and just pull away from there."

ANY PROBLEMS WITH DIRTY AIR?

"We were able to (pass in traffic), and that's something that we struggled with last year when we were here. Last year, we had a good qualifying effort - I think we were inside the top 10 - but as soon as it came down to race time we fought the dirty air just like some of the guys were today. We weren't able to keep the nose of the truck down and we weren't able to pass anybody. I could get up to them and then the truck would get tight and lose the nose, and I wouldn't be able to do anything with them. Today, we came with a different front spring package that was able to keep the nose down on the ground, and when I pulled up to them guys, I could turn down underneath them. I could go to the high side or go wherever I wanted to go, and the truck was really good."

"I don't know. They say that the first one is the hardest one to get and then they come a little bit easier after that. So, hopefully that's true. We were close a couple of times last year. We led a couple of races inside 10 to go and ended up not winning them, kinda like what we had yesterday with the ARCA race. Just to get that first win out of the way, to know that I'm capable of doing this and that the team is capable of doing this gives us some confidence. We were struggling the first four races this year. The way that we ended last year, I really don't know why we were struggling as much as we were this year. I think this will give us some momentum and hopefully kick start our season."

"We definitely hit the setup right. I think that was a big part of it. But, our Roush-Yates Fords have always been strong. The Toyotas have really gotten stuff figured out in the truck series, and we definitely hit on a setup today, and it showed that the other manufacturers are still competitive with the Toyotas and that we can run with them."

"Well, I do think about. In that sense, it kinda puts some pressure on me just because I know that Carl (Edwards) was the last young guy to come up through the 99 truck and he's been very successful, so I know Jack was kinda looking for the same thing when he replaced Carl or put somebody else in the truck. It's definitely some pressure that I've felt, and I know that Carl had some success in it, but hopefully this will get our season going and hopefully this will be the first of many to come."

"Well, not a different mindset than I would normally have, but I was little bit frustrated with the way that the race went yesterday. I think that had we had the setup a little bit better that we could have won that race. And, I honestly believe that we should have won that race if we worked on the car a little bit. I made a bad call yesterday, so I kinda got in the truck today with the mindset that I did want to go out there and run well. But like I said before, I think that all of the laps yesterday helped me a lot, and helped me figure out the line around the track and what the track changes were going to be like going throughout the evening. That just helped me out a lot."

-credit: ford racing

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Series NASCAR Truck