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Darnell Scores Top-Five Finish at Daytona
Feb 18, 2006 - updated Feb 18th, 2006 9:31pm
Web posted by Rory Connellan

Concord, N.C. --

Making his first start for Roush Racing, Erik Darnell brought the No. 99 Woolrich Ford F-150 home in the fifth position, rebounding from early trouble to become the highest finishing rookie in the race.

"This is just incredible tonight for this whole team," said Darnell. "It was great to have Woolrich on board, I know their family was home watching on TV tonight. [Crew chief] John Quinn and everyone on this crew worked so hard, and all the help I got from Mark Martin out there, it was just incredible."

Darnell took the green flag in the 15th position. As the field settled into a single-file pattern, Darnell reported to his crew that the water temperature had begun to rise. At lap 15, the Woolrich F-150 was brought to the attention of the crew for four tires, fuel and tape off the grill. Darnell returned to the track in the 33rd position, resulting from the green flag stop.

With the overheating problem solved, Darnell patiently waited for the opportunity to regain ground and work his way back to the front. At lap 27, the caution flag flew for a spin involving the No. 12 truck. The Woolrich team became the beneficiary of the lucky dog pass, and were back on the lead lap. The race restarted with the No. 99 in the 31st position with 70 laps to go.

Mired back in traffic, Darnell picked up positions in a hurry. Clearly the Woolrich F-150 was going to be a contender. Just twelve laps later, the No. 99 was running in the 23rd position when a second caution flag flew for a wreck involving several trucks in turn three. The pits opened for the leaders, and the Woolrich crew pulled off a flawless pit stop, sending Darnell back on the track in the 16th spot.

Darnell continued his push to the front, picking up positions as the laps wound down. Another caution fell at lap 73, setting up a late race dash to the finish. "I'm really pushing bad in the corners," said Darnell. One final four tire stop was made, this time with a slight air pressure adjustment for the Woolrich F-150.

The race restarted on lap 78, with the No. 99 in the 10th position. The adjustments to the truck were just what Darnell needed to get his shot to move to the front of the field. Darnell was running second on the field by lap 86, and briefly took the lead on lap 87. Behind the leaders, the racing got wild and another caution fell at lap 97, setting up the green-white-checkered flag finish.

The field took the green flag for the final time at lap 101, but did not get a chance to race to the finish. Several trucks stacked up behind the leaders, resulting in a yellow-flag finish. Darnell brought the No. 99 Woolrich Ford F-150 home in the 5th position, placing both Roush Fords in the top-five with teammate Mark Martin's win.

"I can't say enough for what these guys did in the off-season," said Darnell. "It's obvious that this team has put together some awesome F-150's for me to drive. I give all the credit in the world to these guys, that's a great way to start the season out. I'm really excited to get to Fontana and keep the momentum going."

Roush Racing is a subsidiary of Livonia, Mich., based Roush Enterprises which operates 13 motorsports teams; five in NASCAR Nextel Cup with drivers Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards, six in the Busch Series with Martin, Kenseth, Biffle, Edwards, Todd Kluever and Danny O'Quinn, Jr., and two in the Craftsman Truck Series with Martin, David Ragan and Erik Darnell. For sponsorship inquiries, contact Robin Johnson, Roush Racing, (704) 720-4645.


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