4/28/07
Darnell Dominates at Kansas Speedway

While all eyes at Kansas Speedway were focused on Mike Skinner and his attempt to record his fourth consecutive Craftsman Truck Series victory, Erik Darnell drove from the rear of the field and spanked the field with a performance that was about as dominating as it gets.

Darnell qualified 10th fastest in his Roush Fenway Racing Ford but was forced to start shotgun on the field because his crew had to replace the front splitter before the race. After the green flag flew, Darnell got acquainted with the high groove at the 1.5-mile speedway and he used it to fight his way into contention.
The Illinois native passed Jack Sprague for the lead on a restart following the third caution of the race and from there it was smooth sailing as he went on to beat Rick Crawford to the checkers by a whopping 10.440 seconds, the fifth largest margin in series history.

Darnell participated in Friday's ARCA race at Kansas as a warm-up and he readily admitted that his second place finish in that event went a long way to helping him score his first Truck victory in just his 31st career start. "I think that all of the laps that I got yesterday in the ARCA race helped me out today just because I was able to get a feel for what the truck was going to do in the afternoon and get a feel for what the track was going to do as far as the second groove coming in," Darnell explained. "I think all that last night helped us. It was disappointing not to win it last night. We were just not quite where we needed to be, but with the truck tonight, we were spot on and I think it showed."

Rick Crawford came the closest to giving Darnell a run for the trophy but with the final 39 laps running under green flag conditions at speed, he just couldn't close the distance. "I wasn't consistent and (Darnell) was running consistent for what he needed to run," Crawford noted. "I ran a few laps faster than he was, but I couldn't catch him because he had too big of a lead."

Skinner started on the pole for the third consecutive race and led the first 58 laps but he got behind during a round of green flag pit stops and was forced to settle for 5th, his worst finish in the first five races. "It's a little bit disappointing because I thought we had the truck to beat," said Skinner. "We got out of whack a little bit, got a weird set of tires.

Skinner held onto the points lead and stretched his advantage to 108 over defending champion Todd Bodine who was never a factor during the race but finished seventh. Darnell's victory moved him up two positions to 10th overall where he sits 254 points behind the leader with five races in the books.

The Craftsman Truck Series will take the next two weeks off and then head to the heart of stock car country where they will compete at Lowe's Motor Speedway just outside of Charlotte, NC.