Erik Darnell Finishes 2nd at Nashville

Erik Darnell Finishes Second at Nashville; Braun Finishes Sixth

Erik Darnell, driver of the No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford F-150 finished second in Saturday night's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Nashville Superspeedway. This was Darnell's fifth top-five finish in the last six races. He moves up to sixth in championship points standings.

ERIK DARNELL – No. 99 Northern Tool + Equipment Ford F-150 – (finished 2nd, qualified 10th) –

COMING IN SECOND IS TOUGH, BUT THAT WAS A STRONG RUN FOR YOU. “Yeah, it definitely was.  Our Northern Tool + Equipment Ford was fast all night.  We struggled in practice yesterday; I’m not going to lie to you.  We worked our butts off.  We changed everything on this truck to end up 25th on the speed chart.  My hat is off to all these guys, Matt Puccia [crew chief] and everybody on this crew for helping out this weekend.  We had a really good truck. We had a flat tire halfway through and that kind of got us behind. So we were kind of put in a box and had to really work to get track position. [We] didn’t take any tires at the end. We were a little bit too tight because we didn’t get an adjustment on it.  It’s frustrating to lose one three laps from the end.  It seems like me and Johnny have had a lot of close battles this year. It was good run for us.”

ERIK DARNELL PRESS CONFERENCE – TALK ABOUT YOUR RACE. “Yeah, me and Johnny have had a couple of close finishes right at the end of the races this year it seems.  We were just out of tires at the end.  Matt Puccia and all the guys did a great job with this Northern Tool + Equipment Ford. We had a flat tire about halfway through and that really kind of put us behind.  Track position was really important. Clean air seemed like it was worth everything. You didn’t have to have the best truck but as long as you were out front, it seemed like you could really kind of run away with it.  I knew once I got out there I had to keep the thing on the bottom.  There wasn’t too much of a top groove out there tonight, especially in [turns] three and four.  I was just expecting the 30 [Todd Bodine] and the 23 [Johnny Benson] to be just like mine when I was in traffic, tight behind other guys and they were. And I was doing my best to keep Johnny back there. We obviously didn’t have the fastest truck at the end, but we were able to hold them off for a while. Once you got that little bit of clean air on the nose, he was able to get by us and that made the difference.”

ON RACING WITH JOHNNY BENSON AT THE END. “Johnny had a really good truck at the end.  He was pretty fast but he kind of had the same problem we did.  I noticed earlier in the race that he didn’t have the track position.  I definitely knew he was coming when him and Todd got to battle.  That gave me a little bit of breathing room. But as soon as he cleared Todd, he ran right up on my back bumper. I knew he was there, I just knew I just had to keep that thing on the bottom and keep him behind me. But not taking tires at the end and not getting an adjustment made the difference for us.  We were just a little bit too tight and I couldn’t roll the center as good as Johnny could and that’s where he was able to beat me.  It seemed like he just backed off a little bit and he beat me through the center and got underneath me coming off the corner.  We just weren’t as good as him at the end.” 

ON HIS TRUCK. “It wasn’t loose, it was tight more than anything.  I just had a lot of wheel in it.  And coming up off the corner when you’ve got a lot of wheel in, the back end wants to snap out on you a little bit. That’s what we were fighting more than anything.  I wish that thing was loose tonight.  We were tight in practice yesterday. We were terrible in practice yesterday. All the guys, Matt Puccia and all the guys worked their butts off to end up 25th in practice and it was a little bit frustrating.  But I think we got it pretty good at the end and we just didn’t quite get it to where we needed it to be tonight. We were a lot better than yesterday, but still just a little bit tight. I would have given anything to have that thing be a little bit loose tonight.  I think we would have been better off.”

HOW MUCH DID THE TRUCK TIGHTEN UP FROM DAY TO NIGHT AND DID YOU HAVE MAJOR CHANGES? “Yeah, it was quite a bit, but having practiced last night at 6:45 to 8 o’clock, kind of gave us an idea of what was going to happen once the race got going because we started at about the same time.  We were able to make adjustments yesterday that helped us out tonight.  I think Matt Puccia and all the guys did a really good job keeping up with the truck on the pit stops.  It was just that last one we needed the track position and couldn’t afford to do an adjustment on it.  We took two seconds worth of fuel to get back out there in second.  Had we had time, we would have made a track bar adjustment and got it a little bit better, we just didn’t have that luxury at the end and we needed the track position more than we needed that adjustment.  Had we had the chance to do that, we would have been real good.”

COLIN BRAUN – No. 6 Con-way Freight Ford F-150 – (finished 6th, qualified 4th) –

TOP FINISHING RAYBESTOS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR CONTENDER PRESS CONFERENCE – TALK ABOUT YOUR RUN TONIGHT. “It was a good run for the whole No. 6 Con-way Freight Ford F-150 team.  We qualified fourth and it seemed like everybody and their brother was trying to wreck in front of us.  So a lot of times we just had to check up and we fell back to 11th or 12th there at the start. I thought [Mike] Skinner was going to wreck. I guess with the season we’ve been having we’ve just been trying to avoid those wrecks and luckily, we finally did that.  We stayed out of the wrecks.  We had brake problems the whole night, I’m not sure exactly what happened but our pedal got real long. If not for that, I thought we would have something maybe to challenge those guys further up in the field.  All in all, it was a great night.  My pit guys did a great job on pit road and they’ve been working real hard on that.  We had some great stops. Hats off to them, they did a big part of this. We came in 13th the first time and came out sixth or something like that.  Those guys did a heck of a job.  It’s nice to finish up in the top-10, I wish we could have finished in the top five, but Jack Sprague was pretty fast there at the end.  All in all, a good night for us.”

WITH ALL THE CAUTIONS, TALK ABOUT STAYING OUT OF THE WRECKAGE. “A lot of it was.  The 8 truck decided to run into our door for some reason. We were going four wide at one point and I don’t know exactly why we were doing that, but we were four wide and the No. 08 truck came across our nose and I thought that was going to end our night, luckily it didn’t.  We kept on digging.  It seemed like a lot of those guys were driving real sideways and getting jacked sideways.  They’re running pretty hard, but it worked out for us in the end.” 

RICK CRAWFORD – No. 14 Circle Bar Truck Corral/Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford F-150 – (finished 23rd, qualified 6th) –“The Ford Power Stroke Diesel by International is built Ford tough.  We finished on the lead lap and that’s all I can say for us tonight.  We lost track position during one of the pit stops and we could never get the handle back.  We kept working around new tires and that kind of stuff.  There was a hiccup off of four and I guess I was in the middle.  I shouldn’t have been, but I guess I was in the middle, and we got stuffed into the fence.  But to run 150 laps at the speed, we’re running and stay on the lead lap with a truck like lap shows how well the Fords are built and everybody needs to drive one.”

KEVEN WOOD – No. 21 Air Force Ford F-150 – (finished 29th, qualified 9th)  - “I don’t know what happened.  I need to see a replay to see what happened.  All I know was that I told ‘two wide on the bottom’ so I gave the bottom guy some room and the next thing I know, I felt a hit in the back end and I spun around.  Then I saw about three more trucks wrecking.  I don’t know who got in the back of us or what it was.  Something caused us to go around and we were just out there making laps.  I’m proud of my guys on this Air Force Ford F-150 team.  They did a great job getting the truck ready for me this weekend.”

JOHN WES TOWNLEY – No. 09 Zaxby’s Ford F-150 – (finished 30th, qualified 18th) – “We had a fast truck. We had a little bit of a fender bender at the start of the race.  I bent the left front fender in a little bit. We got to the pits and got that taken care of and unfortunately, they had already thrown the green. We were doing all we could do to stay on the lead lap.  We had a really fast truck with the times I was running out there.  We were running some times up there with leader.  It’s just real unfortunate because we were coming up through the traffic on the restart.  I just got behind some guys and they got tangled up.  There was just nowhere for me to go because I was already packed in.  This is unfortunate.  The guys at Roush Fenway gave us a real fast truck and I’ve got to thank my sponsor Zaxby’s today. We’ve got to keep our heads up.  We’ll come back and get them next time.”

BRENDAN GAUGHAN – No. 10 International MAXX Force Diesel Ford F-150 – (finished 24th, qualified 27th) – “I don’t really know what happened. The Circle Bar guys they give me very, very good race trucks week in and week out.  And every once in a while in every sport whether it’s basketball, football or auto racing, you miss.  Tonight was a night that the MAXX Force Ford just missed.  My guys have a great attitude and a great heart.  We stopped six or seven times.  We had to go behind pit wall, move the rear and did not lose a lap.  I’m very proud of my guys on that. They were able to get me behind the wall, jack it up, put it on a jack stand, move the rear end and get me back out without losing a lap.  It was a very, very hard fought night for my guys.  It’s just not what the MAXX Force Ford was looking for.  We are a good team, we just had an off night.” 

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE BLACK FLAG? “The black flag early on, somebody checked up on the initial start.  Somebody looked liked they missed a shift and a bunch of people kind of scattered.  I went down to the bottom side.  I waited to not pass the 16 and then I hit the gas and maybe I mistimed it.  I’m not going to say it was a bad call. When somebody misses a shift, they always get some leniency.  I guess that person didn’t miss enough of a shift to make it legit.  But Gator, he builds our transmissions and he builds me great restart and start transmissions, so we do have really nice stuff on restarts.  If you watch our restarts all year, I pass a person every restart, at least one, sometimes nine.  Maybe I just got too good of a start when somebody kind of missed a shift.  That’s all right.  It didn’t hurt us because we got the early caution, so we didn’t go down a lap and we could do it under caution.  It didn’t hurt us in the end.” 

WAS CLEAN AIR THAT MUCH OF A FACTOR? “No, because I ran way behind anybody in clean air and it didn’t help me or hurt me.  It may have been for the guys that had a good truck tonight.  But with our struggles, it didn’t matter having clean or dirty air.  Dirty air meant I was at least trying to pass people.”