Charlotte: Tony Raines race report

Raines Survives Charlotte; Finishes 14th It might not have been pretty, but it was a top-15 and that's all that matters. Tony Raines fought an ill-handling car for much of the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor...

Raines Survives Charlotte; Finishes 14th

It might not have been pretty, but it was a top-15 and that's all that matters.

Tony Raines fought an ill-handling car for much of the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but managed to finish 14th in the longest race of the season.

"It was a long 600 miles," Raines said. "Brandon (Thomas, crew chief) and the DLP guys worked really, really hard and never gave up and we got a top-15 out of it. It may not have been pretty, but we'll take it."

Raines started 37th in the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet, but struggled with a tight handling condition early on in the 400-lap event. He fell back to 41st and went down a lap to the leaders after just 40 laps.

While the DLP team never could get back on the lead lap, they never lost another lap either. By the time the race was over, only 12 cars were on the lead lap and Raines was one of only four cars one lap down.

After a series of tire pressure, track-bar, wedge and spring rubber adjustments, Raines was in the top-20 for the final 200 laps, but never could get his lap back. However, he managed to stay out of trouble for the most part as there were 13 cautions, 10 of which were for accidents.

The close call came on Lap 62 when Raines spun in Turn 4 and made contact with series point leader Jeff Gordon. Gordon was then hit by rookie A.J. Allmendinger and Gordon's night was over.

When Raines pitted following the spin and the contact, the DLP crew discovered a dime-sized puncture in the right-rear tire, which may have caused the tire to lose air quickly, causing Raines to spin. After three stops for repairs, the DLP crew managed to fix the minimal damage and kept Raines only one lap behind the leaders.

For much of the last half of the race, Raines raced between 16th- and 18th-place for what was setting up to be a fuel mileage race. Several cars had to pit with less than 10 laps to go to make sure they could make it on fuel, but Raines was not one of them. He managed to move from 16th on Lap 385 to 14th by the time the checkered flag came out.

"Like I said, it wasn't pretty, but we'll take it," Raines said. "It was a good night and we gained some points."

Raines gained one spot to climb to 23rd in driver points with 1,118 points. Raines is 803 points behind leader Gordon and 41 points back of 22n -place Juan Pablo Montoya.

The next event on the Nextel Cup schedule is the June 3 Autism Speaks 400 presented by Visa at Dover (Del.) International Speedway The race begins at 1:30 p.m. EDT with live, high-definition coverage provided by FOX.

-credit: hofr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya