Erik Darnell, driver of the No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford F-150, participated in a press conference at Kentucky Speedway in advance of the Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series...
Erik Darnell, driver of the No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford F-150, participated in a press conference at Kentucky Speedway in advance of the Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race. Darnell talks about his season to date and reaching a milestone for Roush Fenway Racing -- the team's 316th series start.
ERIK DARNELL -- No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford F-150
TALK ABOUT YOUR SEASON TO DATE. YOU HAVE A SHOT AT THE CHAMPIONSHIP AT MID-POINT THIS SEASON. "I think so, especially the way the season has been playing out. Everybody who's been in the points lead it seems like has been having problems. I don't think there is anybody this year that hasn't had some kind of problem out there. We're seventh in points but only 130 out of the lead right now. We've had good trucks all year; we just haven't had any luck. Whether it's been wrecks or pit stops or whatever, we just haven't had any luck and I think we finally got luck on our side. We've kind things turned around and we've been running strong these last couple of weeks, running up front and doing what we need to do to contend for this championship. Our Northern Tool + Equipment Team has been really strong and we're looking to keep it going tomorrow in the Built Ford Tough 225."
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE NOW THAT WE'RE AT THE HALF POINT IN THE SEASON? WHAT DOES IT TAKE FOR YOU TO LEAP FROG THOSE FEW GUYS THAT ARE AHEAD OF YOU? "We just need to keep doing what we've been doing. We've had good runs this year we've had really good trucks, but we just don't have any of the finishes to show for it up until three weeks ago. We've been in the top-five in the last three races at the end, as long as we keep having good luck. Pit stops have been good; trucks have been good. If we can just keep everything rolling, that's what it's going to take. It's going to take top-fives for us to get into the championship hunt. We're only 130 out but that is a lot of points to make up, but at the rate that the season has been going, everybody's been having bad luck. I think Johnny [Benson] lost 50 points last week, or went from a 50-point lead back to where ever he's at in points right now. Things can change in a hurry. We just need to keep running consistently whether it's top fives or top-10s and just in the hunt for the championship."
ROUSH FENWAY RACING IS STARTING THEIR 316 ST RACE IN THE SERIES WHICH BRAKES THE TIE WITH SPEARS MOTORS FOR THE MOST STARTS BY ANY TEAM IN THE SERIES. ROUSH FENWAY IS ALSO ONE RACE AWAY FROM THE 50TH WIN. HOW EXCITED WOULD YOU BE TO PICK-UP THAT 50TH WIN TOMORROW? "That would definitely be cool. Roush Fenway has been in the truck series for a long time. Jack is a strong supporter of this series. He believes in it. He has used it to bring up guys like Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch and guys that have gone on to have great success. I just feel fortunate to be in the position that I'm in; that he believes in the truck series, that he keeps trucks in this series and has done so for a long time. It's going to be cool to get that milestone start for him tomorrow night and then hopefully, if it's not me, hopefully it's one of our teammates that can pick up that 50th win for him."
HOW DO YOU LIKE RACING WITH KYLE BUSCH? "For me, I haven't had any run-ins with him fortunately, so it's been good. I like when Kyle comes over and runs because he's in a good truck and he's fast where ever we go. I think if we can go out there and run with or beat him, it's just kind of a feather in our cap. I like the competiveness of it because we know he is going to be strong each and every week. I just enjoy running out there with him. He's definitely at the top of his game right now. He's a wheelman. He's whoopin' 'em in the Cup series and he's fast in the Nationwide Series and every time he comes over here. I enjoy it."