Roush drivers win Busch, Truck rookie of the year honors

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Darnell Fifth Roush Driver To Win Raybestos Rookie Honors

Erik Darnell (No. 99 Woolrich Ford) can't wait for the 2007 season to begin. Right now, though, the 23-year-old Beach Park, Ill., native gets to savor his 2006 Raybestos Rookie of the Year title. Darnell is the fifth Roush Racing freshman to win the award and second-youngest rookie of the year at age 23 years, 11 months. Darnell led rookie points after all 25 races and finished 66 points ahead of Chad McCumbee (No. 08 The GPS Store/Garmin Chevrolet). He opened the season with a sixth-place finish at Daytona and finished with five consecutive top-10 performances — including three, third-place efforts.

"We clinched rookie of the year honors and that was our ultimate goal," said Darnell. "We'll be back again next year and we fully expect to contend for the championship."

Youngest Raybestos Rookies of the Year (Driver / Age / Season)
1. Kurt Busch 22 years 3 mo. 2000
2. Erik Darnell 23 years 11 mo. 2006
3. Carl Edwards 24 years 3 mo. 2003
4. Travis Kvapil 25 years 10 mo. 2001
5. Kenny Irwin 27 years 3 mo. 1997

Danny O'Quinn Jr. - 2006 NASCAR Busch Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year

"It feels awesome. I was just sitting back at the trailer there and we were all kind of nervous and shaking there. We didn't know what was going to happen, but this is just an awesome program. I've got to thank Raybestos and everybody for putting this on for us. It's been a fun year. We've had a lot of ups and downs. I wanted to be running a little better at the beginning of the year, but we picked up a lot the second half of the year. It was a rookie team and I was a rookie driver, and we were coming to a lot of these places for the first time. We stayed out of trouble when we weren't having the best runs at the first of the year, and we worked really hard. My team never let a down a bit, even when we weren't having such a good day. I really owe this to them guys. They give us great cars each and every week. Roush Racing is an unbelievable team to be driving for, and tonight's the first mechanical failure that we've had all year long. I think that's pretty impressive in a 35-race season to have only one mechanical failure, and it just says a lot for our team. I've got to thanks everybody, Stonebridge Life Insurance, World Financial Group, Barr-Nunn Transposition and Transamerica. Those guys came on board and took a big chance on a rookie this year, and fortunately we are able to deliver this rookie-of-the-year to them."

O'Quinn Jr.'s diaries

  • Strong closing kick
  • Team grows together
  • Second time around
  • Proud of first-year fight
  • Bigger, better things
  • Learning each day
  • Top 20 in Busch debut
  • When you entered the season, did you think you'd be competing for this award against a 10-year veteran (John Andretti)? "No, I didn't. You think of rookie and you think of racing against guys like me and Todd (Kluever) and Burney (Lamar). Racing with John, it definitely brought a little extra competition to it with him being to a lot of these tracks. He helped us a lot, though. He helped all of us rookies a lot when we went to the rookie meetings and things, he would come out and tell us things about the track, so he aided to our rookie meetings a lot. It was a lot of fun racing with him all year long." Is it weird being crowned rookie of the year and not having a full-time ride next year? "Well, it's definitely antsy. Hopefully this will help us find a sponsor and things for next year. I definitely want to be over here driving for Jack next year, but we all know that it's sponsor dollars that make these things go. We've got to attract a good sponsor to put me in a program somewhere over here, but hopefully this will help us with that. I'm definitely on the edge of my seat right now, and I'm sure everyone who's in this situation understands that, so we'll have to ask Jack about that."

    Jack Roush news conference

    "Danny has been really a treat to work with this year. He'll bend your heart. He's a big teddy bear, but he's also a fast race car driver. We had Danny in our Discovery Channel Driver X competition last fall and he was very, very good. The metrics that we used to decide - to put the points up one driver against the other - were almost arbitrary, and Danny and David Ragan and Erik Darnell were at a virtual tie, so we just had to try to find something for all three of them. The difficulty was, as we put all these new team together, we kept going further and further down the human resource pool. We were halfway through the year before Danny got a car that was built for Danny, and I'm sure that some of them weren't too comfortable and didn't have as much room in them as he needed. It just took a long time to get this program going because it was the third one in line and they were all new. Danny made a good accounting of himself and he's had a number of great races. One of the telling stories on Danny, we were at Memphis and he was racing against someone that I was not familiar with, and the spotter and crew chief got real nervous because this person kept putting his nose in. Danny was more familiar with that track and the people around the track than probably anybody that was with him, and after a little while Danny said, 'Don't worry about it. He's raced with me before and he understands. It will be OK.' So, Danny has that dimension that breaks ties when they get close. We sure enjoy having Danny being part of the program. We don't have sponsorship for it next year, and this Raybestos rookie championship will sure help him a lot."
    Tagged: Kurt Busch, Erik Darnell, Chad McCumbee, Travis Kvapil

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