Off-week news of note 2006-09-05

* 'Young Guns' Darnell, Ragan Latest Roush Discoveries * U.S. Air Force Unit Presents Flag to Key Motorsports * Reutimann Doing Double Duty Remainder of Season * Craftsman for a Cure Events Ring Up Big Total * Next Generation of Crawfords...

* 'Young Guns' Darnell, Ragan Latest Roush Discoveries

* U.S. Air Force Unit Presents Flag to Key Motorsports

* Reutimann Doing Double Duty Remainder of Season

* Craftsman for a Cure Events Ring Up Big Total

* Next Generation of Crawfords on the Horizon

* 'Gong Show' Winner Darnell Sees Dream Become Reality

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 5) -- It's been a year since Erik Darnell became Roush Racing's "Driver X," the ultimate winner in an on-track competition that drew resumes from several hundred of the nation's top, young competitors.

The prize was a full season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and the hope of following Roush truck graduates Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch into the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.

"I don't know if you can really have an accurate assessment of 'are things the way I thought they'd be?'" said Darnell, a 23-year-old native of Beach Park, Ill., whose grandfather Bay Darnell was a well-known stock car competitor in the 1960s and 1970s.

"I knew I'd be competing in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series but I'd never competed at this level before so I did not know what to expect as far as demands on time and what else would go into being a professional driver in the upper level of the sport."

Darnell added, "It's been a lot of fun, not only on track but off the track as well, learning how to represent the team and the sponsors that support us."

When Darnell, the current Raybestos Rookie of the Year leader, won the Budweiser Pole at Nashville Superspeedway, he became the third Roush Racing driver to post a fast qualifying time in 2006. He joined Mark Martin (No. 6 Scotts Ford) and fellow Driver X graduate David Ragan as pole winners.

"Everyone who ever straps into a racecar dreams of being discovered and having the opportunity I've got," said Darnell, who posted a career-best finish of second at Memphis Motorsports Park.

When the season resumes Sept. 16 at New Hampshire International Speedway, Darnell hopes to join Busch as a rookie winner at the 1.058-mile track.

"I'm very fortunate that my dream became a reality," he said.

Opportunity Means Unwillingness to Settle for Less Than Best

Driving a Roush Racing truck is one of the greatest opportunities for a young driver driver hoping to make it to the top in NASCAR competition.

David Ragan, who is splitting seat time in the Roush No. 6 Scotts Ford with five-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series winner Mark Martin, knows that his enviable situation carries an upside and a downside.

"The pressure of being a Roush driver is just as high as it was during the 'Gong Show,'" said the 20-year-old Georgia native, who put his Ford F-150 on the pole last month at O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis. Ragan, who started the season slowly, has recovered to post top-10 finishes in four of his most recent six appearances.

"You feel like you have to prove yourself week in and week out," he said. "Jack and his people expect the best out of you and will settle for nothing less. They go to the track full intending to win every week.

"It's a pretty spectacular operation here; they don't cut corners anywhere. It pushes you to give 110 percent every week."

Key Motorsports Marks Pit With American Flag Flown In Iraq

A 3' X 5' American Flag, that was flown from a United States Air Force gun ship during the first combat mission from Balad Air Base, Iraq, has been presented to Key Motorsports and in honor of the No. 40 Chevrolet driven by Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidate Ryan Moore.

Staff Sergeant David W. Goodfriend, the Senior Controller for the 816 Expeditionary Special Operations Group of USAF Maintenance Operations Center, made the presentation.

Goodfriend was the bunkmate of current, part-time Key Motorsports tire carrier Colin McGuffin in the Air Force for five years. McGuffin, who left the service in 2004, hails from California while Goodfriend, who has now served four tours of duty in the Middle East, hails from Fort Walton Beach, Fla. The two were stationed together at Hurlburt Field near Fort Walton Beach.

The American Flag became the Key Motorsports pit identification marker at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 23 and for the remaining races on the 2006 Craftsman Truck Series season schedule, was flown on the AC130V "Spooky Gunship", tail #90-0166 on March 2, 2006.

"We are honored that the United States Air Force and the squad from that gunship and combat mission have bestowed this honor on our race team," team owner Curtis W. Key, Sr. said. "We will cherish the moment and will be privileged to display the flag in our pit during the remaining races in 2006," he added.

Several other Key Motorsports team members during the current race season have had family members serving in Iraq during the current race season have had family members serving in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Reutimann Doubles Up As Season Winds Down

David Reutimann (No. 17 Team Tundra Toyota) will be doing double duty through most of the remainder of the 2006 season.

Reutimann, currently ranked third in series point standings, will attempt to win his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series title.

He'll also be at the wheel of Michael Waltrip's No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Chevrolet at tracks on which the trucks and NASCAR Busch Series compete on the same weekend.

Reutimann's goal is two-fold. He wants to win the NASCAR Craftsman Truck title for owner Darrell Waltrip and at the same time put the car into the top 10 in NASCAR Busch Series points.

The latter team ranked 17th going into last weekend's event at California Speedway, 123 points out of 10th.

"We've got to work really hard at it," said Reutimann. "It would be incredible to end our year that way."

Totals Are In: Craftsman for a Cure Raises $66,711.83 For ACS, Victory Junction

When 'Craftsman for a Cure' was announced earlier this spring, event organizers from Craftsman Motorsports and Bobby Hamilton Racing had no idea what to expect from the first year event.

Now, after months of tallying donations and ticket and auction sales, the organizers of 'Craftsman for a Cure' announce that $66,711.83 was raised for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life and the Victory Junction Gang Camp.

"We are extremely happy with the outpouring of generosity from NASCAR fans and industry partners surrounding the Craftsman for a Cure Event," said Scott Howard, manager of sponsorship and sales promotion for Sears Holdings. "It is a true testament to the NASCAR fan base and the sense of community that exists among fans, sponsors, teams, and drivers within NASCAR. We are proud to have been able to support a true champion like Bobby and continue to wish him a speedy recovery."

The 'Craftsman for a Cure' charity event was spearheaded after former NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Bobby Hamilton announced that he would get out of his truck during the 2006 season to battle head and neck cancer. Hamilton hopes to be back behind the wheel at the Series' season finale in Homestead.

The charity event gave race fans the opportunity to race go-karts against numerous NASCAR drivers, to dine with drivers and even to get autographs. The support for Hamilton and the 'Craftsman for a Cure' began pouring in as soon as the event was announced.

In all, 32 drivers from all three NASCAR series volunteered to participate in the fan-driven charity event. Sponsors like Toyota, Chevrolet, Con-way Freight, ASE and Fastenal donated money to the event. Other sponsors, drivers and tracks donated items for a silent auction.

"I'm so thankful for the outpouring of support and generosity of each person who has given their free time and money to help sucha great cause on our behelf," Hamilton said. "It means more than most of you will ever know, to know that my extended family will help me fight as well. So thank you from the bottom of my heart for helping this event become of the largest ones out there to help such a tremendous cause."

Another Crawford

The co-career leader in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts, Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford), is grooming a future racing star -- his son Adam.

Adam celebrated his 17th birthday Saturday night concurrent with the final race of the Super Late Model season at Mobile (Ala.) International Speedway where he's the rookie of the year leader in the division.

The younger Crawford jumped right into the deep end of the pool, so to speak. Among division regulars is former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Stanley Smith. Father has turned over son to the tutelage of long-time crew chief and confidant Ray Stonkus, a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series winner.

"While I'm worried about Adam doing well, I don't have to worry about him with Ray as his crew chief," he said. "As a dad, I'll always be proud of Adam for what he accomplishes on the racetrack or off. As a racer, I've been impressed with his performance on the track."

ETC. ... Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota) assisted team owner Stephen Germain's son, Zach, who competed in a Legends car race during the past weekend at Kentucky Speedway. The younger Germain is a 21-year senior at Miami (Ohio) University. ... Bodine, Johnny Benson (No. 23 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota), Reutimann, Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) and Jack Sprague (No. 60 Con-way Freight Toyota) attended last week's national Toyota Dealers Association meeting in San Antonio, Texas. ... According to Nielsen Media Research, the Aug. 23 O'Reilly 200 was SPEED's most watched NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at Bristol Motor Speedway with ratings up 60 percent from the same race a year ago. ... Bill Davis Racing has announced that A.J. Allmendinger will be joining the team's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series line-up for two races. Allmendinger, who is currently fighting for the championship on the Champ Car World Series circuit, will drive the No. 24 Toyota Tundra for BDR at New Hampshire International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 7).

QUOTABLE:

"Man, it was really strange to ride inside the track and see the track surface totally black. I'm used to seeing the surface a light grey and looking really rough, cracked and worn. But the track has really come a long way since I last raced here in 1998. It will really look strange to the veterans who have run there a lot because it's a very stark change." -- Dennis Setzer, No. 85 FlexFuel E85 Chevrolet, on the repaving of Talladega Superspeedway where the series will race for the first time on Oct. 7.

Next Race: New Hampshire 200

The Place: New Hampshire International Speedway

The Date: Sept. 16, 2006

The Time: 2:15 p.m. (ET)

TV: SPEED, 2:30 p.m. (ET)

Track Layout: 1.058-mile, paved oval

Race Purse: $537,434

2005 Winner: Rick Crawford
2005 Pole: Matt Crafton

Schedule:
Friday -- Practice, 10:15 -- 11:25 a.m., 1:30 -- 1:50 p.m. (rookies) & 2-3 p.m. Saturday: Qualifying, 9:30 a.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Bobby Hamilton , Darrell Waltrip , Michael Waltrip , Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Johnny Benson , Jack Sprague , Dennis Setzer , Rick Crawford , Matt Crafton , A.J. Allmendinger , David Reutimann , David Ragan , Ryan Moore , Erik Darnell , Mark Martin
Teams Bill Davis Racing