Darlington: Tony Raines race report

Tony Raines suffered a mechanical failure late in the Dodge Avenger 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series event at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and finished 39th. Raines, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet, started 32nd but struggled with an ...

Tony Raines suffered a mechanical failure late in the Dodge Avenger 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series event at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and finished 39th.

Raines, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet, started 32nd but struggled with an ill-handling race car for much of the race. He completed only 310 of the 367 laps before the mechanical failure ended his day.

"We got the motor too hot and tried to make it to the end," Raines said. "We couldn't get water in it; it was plugged up with something. We just burned it up. I just think we got a bunch of junk in the radiator and didn't know it. It got hot and we never could get it cooled off again. We'll fix it, whatever caused it."

Raines was one of six drivers who did not complete the race due to an engine problem. It was Raines' first DNF (Did Not Finish) of 2007 and his first in nearly a year as his last DNF came in May 2006 at Charlotte. The DNF ended a string of 32 consecutive races that Raines and the DLP team were running at the finish.

"It's disappointing," Raines said. "The DLP guys worked hard, but it's just one of those things. We haven't had a lot of DNFs, but everyone has them at some point. We'll get ready for Charlotte and try to have a good run there."

Raines dropped one spot to 24th in driver points with 997 points. Raines is 884 points behind leader Jeff Gordon and 34 points back of 23rd-place Jeff Green. The No. 96 car is also 24th in Nextel Cup owner points, and its 997-point tally puts it 167 points ahead of the No. 22 car (Dave Blaney), which is in 36th place.

Championship point leader Jeff Gordon won the Dodge Avenger 500 to score his 78th career Nextel Cup victory and his third of the season. Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five. Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer, and Jeff Burton comprised the remainder of the top-10.

The next event on the Nextel Cup schedule is the May 19 Nextel All-Star Challenge in Charlotte (N.C.). The Nextel Open begins at 7 p.m. EDT followed by the Nextel All-Star Challenge with live coverage provided by Speed Channel. All events next weekend are non-points paying.

-credit: hofr

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Series NASCAR-CUP