Darnell Dominates at Kansas Speedway
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
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
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,