Raines Fades Down the Stretch, Finishes 22nd at Richmond Tony Raines appeared to have a top-10 car early in the Crown Royal Presents the Jim Stewart 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. Raines was in the...
Raines Fades Down the Stretch, Finishes 22nd at Richmond
Tony Raines appeared to have a top-10 car early in the Crown Royal Presents the Jim Stewart 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
Raines was in the top-10 for most of the race's first 130 laps, and even took the lead at one point in the 400-lap contest as he engaged in a spirited battle with championship point leader Jeff Gordon. However, just past the halfway point, the handling on his No. 96 DLP HDTV / Shrek The Third Chevrolet went away, and Raines finished 22nd, the first car one lap down.
"The car was pretty decent there, early on," Raines said. "We just got loose on that long middle run and it hurt us. We couldn't ever really get it fixed and we lost track position."
Raines started 19th and managed to steadily climb to 14th by the time NASCAR officials threw a competition caution on Lap 40. Since the race had been postponed due to rain the night before, NASCAR officials decided to put out the caution flag after 40 laps to give teams a chance to check over their race cars.
As Raines came to the pits, crew chief Brandon Thomas called for a two-tire stop, which allowed Raines to restart the race in second-place on Lap 44, as most all of his counterparts spent additional time on pit road by taking four tires. Raines remained in second-place until Lap 63, when he dove underneath Gordon and passed the four-time Nextel Cup champion in Turn 1. Raines held the point for one lap before Gordon passed him back in the same spot. Raines eventually fell back outside the top-five, but remained within the top-10 until Lap 132.
After falling out of the top-10, Raines day didn't get much better as he struggled to keep pace with the leaders. He eventually was outside the top-20 and went a lap down on Lap 236. He never could get the lap back and wound up 22nd.
"At one point, we got outside of a lapped car and Jimmie (Johnson) checked up real hard and I checked up real hard and it felt like I messed something up in the brakes, because after that it never was really the same," Raines said. "I thought it was pretty good. I think it was a top-10 car, but what are you going to do?"
Despite the disappointment of finishing 22nd, Raines remained upbeat about the early race success.
"There are positive signs," Raines said. "We ran strong and led a lap and there are things to build on. We just kind of fell off there at some point. But, we can fix that."
Raines dropped one spot to 23rd in driver points with 951 points. He was awarded five bonus points for leading Lap 63, which marked the first time he has led this season. Raines is 740 points behind leader Jeff Gordon and 26 points back of 22nd-place J.J. Yeley. The No. 96 car is also 23rd in Nextel Cup owner points, and its 951-point tally puts it 222 points ahead of the No. 10 car, which is in 36th place.