Mad Science Raines Finishes 34th in Atlanta after Battling Extremely Loose Race Car Tony Raines, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet for Hall of Fame Racing, finished 34th in Sunday's Bass Pro Shops 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at...
Raines Finishes 34th in Atlanta after Battling Extremely Loose Race Car
Tony Raines, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet for Hall of Fame Racing, finished 34th in Sunday's Bass Pro Shops 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was the result of a maddening day for the entire team, who worked tirelessly to fix an extremely loose race car.
At the start of the race, Raines was fairly satisfied with his car.
"It's alright," radioed Raines to crew chief Brandon Thomas. "It's a little tight off (turn) two, but it's alright."
It looked as if the No. 96 was off to a good start.
A spin by Kyle Bush on lap four brought out the caution early in the race. Raines pitted for four tires and fuel but no adjustments were made to the car.
Unfortunately, the DLP HDTV Chevy was about to take a turn for the worse. Not long after the restart on lap seven, Raines radioed to the crew that the car was loose - very loose.
"It's a handful right now. Big time," said Raines. "I think I have a flat (tire). I'm not sure."
After hearing that exchange, Thomas immediately ordered Raines to pit, as his safety at speeds nearing 200 mph on the 1.54-mile oval trumped anything else.
On lap 15, the over-the-wall crew changed four tires, made an air pressure adjustment and sent Raines on his way with a full tank of fuel. He rejoined the race one lap down and in 43rd position. But to add insult to injury, the car did not have a flat tire after all.
"Sorry about pitting," Raines said to his crew later in the race. "It sure felt like something was wrong. It got so much worse after that first pit stop. The car felt low on the right rear. It changed all of the sudden. I thought it was flat, but obviously not."
>From that point on, the DLP HDTV machine went from bad to worse. Stop after stop, Thomas and the crew experimented with various combinations in hopes of tightening up the race car.
Adjust the track bar. Make a wedge adjustment. Add air pressure. Remove a spring rubber. Make a camber adjustment. Try any combination of the above. Try again. The DLP HDTV pit was like a lab full of mad scientists working to bring Frankenstein to life.
In spite of the crew's hard work and dogged determination, the No. 96 Chevrolet was never able to overcome its loose condition. By the drop of the checkered flag, Raines was in 34th position, six laps down to the leader.
"The car was just so loose - wicked loose," said Raines after the race. "I don't know what was wrong with it. The car just had no grip in the back and we just didn't seem to be able to fix it. We kept trying to, but we fought it all night. It was just a tough night."
The No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy dropped two spots in Nextel Cup owner points to 29th with 2,950 points. The No. 96 car is 30 points behind the No. 66 car (Jeff Green) and 19 points ahead of the No. 18 car (J.J. Yeley). The No. 96 car is 92 points behind the No. 38 car (David Gilliland), which is in 25th-place.
Tony Stewart of Joe Gibbs Racing scored his 28th career Nextel Cup victory and his fourth of the season by winning the Bass Pro Shops 500.
Jimmie Johnson finished second, while Dale Earnhardt Jr., Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle secured the rest of the top-five. Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Joe Nemechek and Robby Gordon (no relation) comprised the rest of the top-10.
With only three races remaining, the next event on the Nextel Cup schedule is the Nov. 5 Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race begins at 2:55 p.m. EST with live, high-definition coverage provided by NBC.