Atlanta II: Darnell - Ford interview 2009-09-01

This Week in Ford Racing: September 1, 2009 This weekend Erik Darnell will be making his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut behind the wheel of the No. 96 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford Fusion in Sunday's Pep Boys Auto 500. Darnell has competed in...

This Week in Ford Racing:
September 1, 2009

This weekend Erik Darnell will be making his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut behind the wheel of the No. 96 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford Fusion in Sunday's Pep Boys Auto 500. Darnell has competed in 10 Nationwide Series races this season, scoring top-5 finishes at Darlington and Milwaukee.

THIS WEEKEND YOU'RE MAKING YOUR SPRINT CUP DEBUT IN ATLANTA. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU? "It's a really great opportunity that Yates and Roush-Fenway have given me, as well as Northern Tool + Equipment and Academy Sports. Since I was a kid growing up around racing, and being in racing, it's always been my goal to make it to this level in the Sprint Cup Series. This is my opportunity and my chance to do it. I'm excited and looking forward to it. I think we've had some pretty good runs in the Nationwide Fusion. Hopefully. that will translate over to the Cup side. I realize it's going to be tough and the competition is going to be tough, but I'm really looking forward to this weekend. I think it's going to be a challenge because I don't have any Cup experience, but I'm going to be surrounded by a good team. All of the guys on the No. 96 Yates Racing team are a good group of guys. I've actually worked with them in the past, so it will be easier to ease into this a little bit. I'm just ready to go. I'm excited to go out there and prove myself."

YOU HAVE SOME TRACK EXPERIENCE AT ATLANTA. "Yes, I've run about six truck races there, so I do have some experience there. That's going to help me out quite a bit. It is going to be a different running the Cup car there, but I do have some experience so that should be a little bit of a help."

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN DRIVING THE CUP CAR COMPARED TO THE TRUCK? "Between the Cup car, the truck or Nationwide car, we're going to have a lot more horsepower with these things. They go a lot faster. You've got to deal with the different front-end suspension as far as the bump stops compared to the traditional front-end. The car will be a new experience for me, but I'm looking forward to the challenge."

AS FAR AS RACING IN ATLANTA, WHAT ARE SOME OF THINGS, YOU AS A DRIVER LOOK FOR? "From a drivers standpoint, I love Atlanta because it is fast, the surface is worn-out, bumpy and has character. From a drivers standpoint it's a lot of fun just because you can move around so much at the race track. If your car is not handling well at the bottom, you can move on up to the middle, and if its not running good in those spots you can move on up to the top. It gives you options as a driver as far as what you can do out there too. I've always enjoyed it in the truck, and I've had some pretty decent runs in the past in the truck over the last couple of years. I'm looking forward to getting out there in the Cup car. I think it will be pretty cool."

YOU'VE SHARED SEAT TIME WITH DAVID RAGAN IN THE NATIONWIDE FUSION THIS SEASON. HOW HAS IS THAT GOING? "It is a little bit frustrating to not be in the drivers seat every week. It feels like it's a lot easier to build some momentum when you're running consecutive races. When I'm not racing, I've been going to the track and hanging out with the guys and listening in on the radio, sitting on the pit box during the race, so I've been there be with the team and supporting those guys. Even though I'm not in the race car, just being at the race track helps me as a driver. I would love to be in the car every week, but with sponsors and the way things are nowadays that didn't work out this year. I feel fortunate that I'm in the Fusion for those 16 races."

-credit: ford racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Erik Darnell
Teams Yates Racing