Erik Darnell - Ford interview 2008-08-05

Erik Darnell, driver of the No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford F-150, returns this weekend to the site of his first career pole position when the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series visits Nashville. In the last five races, Darnell has four top-five...

Erik Darnell, driver of the No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford F-150, returns this weekend to the site of his first career pole position when the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series visits Nashville. In the last five races, Darnell has four top-five finishes.

ON RACING AT NASHVILLE. "I like racing at Nashville. It's actually a track that I've raced at a few times before the truck series race. I ran an ARCA race and a couple of the Southeast Tour races. It's a place that I've been going to since 2002. It's concrete. It's fun. It's a cool track, I like racing there."

WHAT MAKES RACING IN NASHVILLE COOL? "It's different than some of the other places we go to. The concrete surface makes it a little bit different as far as race adjustments. It tends to be like Dover and tightens up a lot the more rubber you get down on the track."

YOU WERE ON POLE IN 2006 AND HAD A TOP-10 FINISH LAST YEAR. "Yeah, we actually had a really good truck last year. Our Northern Tool + Equipment Ford was fast during the race. We ended having a bad set of tires and the truck was just junk. So we had to come in the pits and put a set of our scuffs back on and we ended up with a lot more laps on our tires than some of the other guys at the end. That kind of hurt us a little bit. We still finished in the top 10. So, hopefully, we'll go there this year and have another good run. Our trucks have been really good lately. Everything has been falling into place. We've been having really good runs and we've been running up front. Hopefully, we'll do the same thing in Nashville."

YOU ARE ON A STREAK OF FOUR TOP-FIVE FINISHES IN FIVE RACES. "Yeah, if you take Kentucky out, which we should have finished in the top-five there, we'd have five in a row. But four out of the last five is not bad, as far as top-five finishes go. Everything has just been going our way. We finally have some luck on our side. Pit stops have been going good. Matt Puccia and all the guys on the crew have been doing a really great job. It's been going good, hopefully, we can keep it up."

NASHVILLE HAS THAT GUITAR TROPHY THAT EVERY DRIVER WANTS. WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH IT IF YOU WON? "I don't know what I'd do with it. I'd probably put it with my other trophies. That's definitely one of the ones that I've always wanted to get. I've been really close in the Southeast Series; I finished second there before. Even at the fairgrounds, they run some Late Model races out there and I've been close in some of the big races out there and didn't get it. It's been kind of disappointing. It's definitely one of the coolest trophies in the business. Everybody knows about the Nashville Guitar. Hopefully, I can add one to my collection this weekend."

HOW WOULD YOU RATE YOUR SEASON? "We've had a decent season. For the most part, we've had fast trucks every week. There have just been some unfortunate circumstances that happened earlier in the year and it took us out of some races. We didn't get the finishes that I think we should have gotten. If you take that kind of stuff out, we've had a pretty good year. We've had good trucks and everybody's been getting along very well on the crew and Matt's been doing a really good job. If we had some better luck to go along with the way we had been running, we'd be in really shape right now. We're 225 points out with 11 races to go. We've got our work cut out for us, but we're still very much in this championship chase and we're just going to go out there and keep finishing in the top five and winning races. Hopefully, we can put ourselves up there and be in contention at the end of the season."

DO YOU THINK YOU CAN BATTLE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP? "I hope so. Before Kentucky, we were only 130 out and I thought we were in pretty good shape, but 29th there and Johnny [Benson] winning the race didn't help any. Then we went to ORP and finished third and still lost 25 points to Johnny. He's just been really strong lately, him and Ron [Hornaday Jr.] both. We're just going to really have to be on our game to beat those guys. It's going to be hard to make up points, but with the way the season has been going, bad luck can happen to anybody. We've seen it with just about everybody in the top 10 in points, at one point or another. If we can keep our heads up and stay out of trouble, hopefully we can get some luck on our side and maybe those guys will have something happen to them and we'll put ourselves right back in it."

-credit: ford racing

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Erik Darnell