Loudon: Tony Raines race report

Raines, DLP HDTV Team Finish 22nd at New Hampshire LOUDON, N.H., (July 16, 2006) - Tony Raines and the No. 96 DLP HDTV team toughed out a respectable 22nd place finish in Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 300 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at New...

Raines, DLP HDTV Team Finish 22nd at New Hampshire

LOUDON, N.H., (July 16, 2006) - Tony Raines and the No. 96 DLP HDTV team toughed out a respectable 22nd place finish in Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 300 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at New Hampshire International Speedway. Raines finished on the lead lap of the 308-lap race after spending most of the day fighting other drivers for track position on the tight confines of New Hampshire's 1.058-mile oval.

After starting the race a respectable 15th, Raines immediately began sliding backward and complaining of a tight race car.

"I'm tight in the center and tight on the throttle," radioed Raines to crew chief Philippe Lopez on lap 18. "I've moved up the race track to see if that helps, but it seems to stay the same. We'll get it though."

A spin by Travis Kvapil on lap 20 allowed Lopez the opportunity to order a four-tire change, air pressure adjustments and a round of wedge in the right rear to try to alleviate the situation. But the long pit stop put Raines all the way back in 31st when the race restarted on lap 23.

A long green flag run followed and Raines' battle with his tight race car waged on - this time with a new wrinkle.

"I cannot pass anybody," said a frustrated Raines. "My tires are going away. My breaks are wearing. The car's still tight. I'm working myself to death out here."

Raines spent much of the run trying to get around the No. 43 car of Bobby Labonte. "I just can't turn underneath him," said Raines. The end result was a bump down the back straightaway that left a donut on the side of Labonte's Dodge and a slight tear in the right fender of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy.

"I was faster than the 43, but he got on the outside of me. I got tighter and I accidentally ran him into the wall," said Raines. "I didn't want to start this stuff early."

Unfortunately for Raines, the altercation with Labonte was just the first of many. Raines worked all day to pass drivers on the track without incident, but bad luck just seemed to follow him.

Incidents with the No. 55 of Michael Waltrip, the No. 19 of Jeremy Mayfield and Kenny Schrader's No. 21 machine all resulted in dented fenders, and in the cases of Mayfield and Schrader, spins.

"You know, a couple of them were my fault, a couple of them weren't," said Raines. "Some of the guys just don't give me an inch."

The final straw came on the last lap when Robby Gordon spun Raines while racing to the finish. The DLP HDTV Chevy limped home battle worn and weary, with a driver equally spent. Worn down from the oppressive heat and the relentless competition, Raines' 22nd place effort garnered him his eighth top-25 of the year.

Kyle Busch scored his third career Nextel Cup victory and his first of the season by winning the Lenox Industrial Tools 300. Carl Edwards finished second, while Greg Biffle, Mark Martin and Kevin Harvick secured the rest of the top-five. Denny Hamlin, Jeff Burton, Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Scott Riggs comprised the rest of the top-10.

The No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy lost one position in Nextel Cup owner points, dropping from 27th to 28th. The No. 96 car has 1,721 points and is 15 points behind the No. 18 car (J.J. Yeley) and 12 points ahead of the No. 7 car (Robby Gordon). The No. 96 car is 228 points ahead of the 36th-place car (No. 40 - David Stremme).

The next event on the Nextel Cup schedule is the July 23 Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. The race begins at 2:05 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by TNT.

-hofr-

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Robby Gordon , Tony Raines , Scott Riggs , Kasey Kahne , J.J. Yeley , Carl Edwards , David Stremme , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin , Travis Kvapil