Kansas City, KS (Sports Network) - Erik Darnell won Saturday evening's
O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 at the Kansas Speedway. The No.99 Roush Racing Ford
crossed the finish line more than 10 seconds ahead of runner-up Rick Crawford.
The victory was the first of Darnell's Craftsman Truck Series career. His
previous best finish was a second-place result at Memphis last year.
"It feels awesome, we've been trying so hard and we've been so close," said
The first portion of the race was completely dominated by Mike Skinner who led
every lap until the first round of green-flag pit stops on lap 59.
Then both Jack Sprague and Darnell took turns leading while Skinner was
content to ride along in the bottom portion of the top-10 waiting for the
final sprint to the finish.
Kelly Bires was running a great race, in third place, until the engine blew on
lap 120 to slow the race and set up the run to the finish.
Darnell and Aaron Fike lead the restart, but just behind them were veterans
Rick Crawford, Jack Sprague and Skinner.
Skinner made his way around Sprague with 35 laps to go and he looked very
smooth in doing it.
But Darnell was trying to run and hide, opening up more than a one second
lead. Crawford and Fike battled for second and it let Darnell get even further
away. With 30 laps to go, Skinner ducked below Fike for third place, but both
Crawford and Skinner were more than four seconds behind the leader.
The lead was more than eight seconds with 24 laps to go.
Could anyone catch Darnell without a caution flag?
No one was making any kind of headway, in fact the margin had expanded to nine
seconds with 12 laps remaining. Darnell held 11 seconds over Crawford with
four laps to go. Only a caution flag or a mechanical problem could keep him
from the win.
There was no caution and Darnell collected his first-ever Craftsman Truck
Series win in his 31st start.
"I could go anywhere I wanted to on the track, its a testament to the crew,"
Sprague, Johnny Benson and Skinner completed the top-five.
The next race in the series is set for Friday, May 18th at the Lowe's Motor
Speedway in Concord, NC.