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Roush Rookie Watch: Rallying after wrecks

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On Tuesdays during the season, Roush Racing's four Busch and Craftsman Truck rookie drivers will file diaries on FOXSports.com. This week, Erik Darnell — Craftsman Truck rookie — writes about the last month. For more information on any of the Roush Racing drivers or teams or to join any of the Roush driver fan clubs, log onto RoushRacing.com

Hey everyone, hope you've all been doing well. Since the last time I wrote, we've raced at Gateway in St. Louis and Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte. We went to Gateway with a great sense of confidence. This season has gone really well, and we knew that we'd carry that momentum into St. Louis. It was the first time in 2006 that we went to a track where I had previous experience. The weather was really messed up there so it abbreviated the practice sessions. Most of the guys had raced there before, but there were 15 or 16 that hadn't. I felt good knowing that going into the race because I thought it would give us an advantage at least over those drivers. We ran pretty decent in the race. We made adjustments and got the truck to where it was really fast and handling just how I needed it to. We decided to try a pit strategy move that would put us ahead of the field when they would have to return to pit road for final service, and it looked as if we were sitting in the catbird seat. That was until we got some help from behind and found the Turn 1 wall. It was really unfortunate; we flat got run over. It was way too early in the race for something like that to happen, but we couldn't change the fact that it did. We destroyed the truck, which really hurt us because we had planned on running it again at Dover and Bristol. I know that my guys will have a truck equal to if not better than it so I have that to fall back on, but I hate that they've got to do all that extra work for such a senseless wreck.
The race at Charlotte was pretty interesting. It's a freshly-paved track. NASCAR and Goodyear brought really hard tires, and it threw everyone for a loop. One thing is for sure, we were all on the same page. No one had an advantage because it was all new to everyone. We had a test day, which went decent for us. We learned a little bit about the tires and what we'd have to do to get around the place. It was race day that we had problems.

Erik Darnell diaries

  • Rallying after wrecks
  • Short track flashback
  • Back to the bullring
  • Top rookie so far
  • Since the Craftsman Truck Series schedule had practice, qualifying and the race all on Friday, there wouldn't be much time to have any problems. Unfortunately, our No. 99 Woolrich Ford met the Turn 4 wall, and we were forced to miss most of the remaining practice sessions. We started the race in the back and kept working on it all race long. At the end, we made a great chassis adjustment that really put us where we needed to be and got the truck moving. We were running lap times equal to and faster than the leader at the end of the night. We picked up a bunch of positions at the end of the race and came home with a top-10 finish. I wish we would have had a few more laps because I think we could have pulled off a couple more spots. We're getting ready to head to Mansfield so we'll be short-tracking for the second time this year. I've run there once before so I've got a little experience to fall back on. Hopefully we'll be able to improve on our Martinsville run and get out of here with another good finish. Thanks again for all your support. It means a lot to know that you fans are behind us.

    Tagged: Erik Darnell

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