PORTLAND, Ore. (April 22, 1998) Tony Raines and the No. 19 Pennzoil/Yellow Freight Ford team have every reason to be chomping at the bit about this weekend. The team returns to the half-mile oval at Portland Speedway for the...
PORTLAND, Ore. (April 22, 1998)
Tony Raines and the No. 19 Pennzoil/Yellow Freight Ford team have every reason to be chomping at the bit about this weekend. The team returns to the half-mile oval at Portland Speedway for the Craftsman 200 presented by NAPA Auto Parts after having posted a seventh-place finish in their first ever NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series outing at that venue a year ago.
"Obviously, last year, everything was new for Tony," said team chief engineer Michael Kadlecik. "Portland is the first track we return to in 1998 where Tony qualified and completed every lap in the race in '97. In other words, we have a much better reference point than what we had for Homestead and Phoenix.
"We have better information on set-up and Tony has a better idea of what to expect on race day. He knows he's going to have to be a little more aggressive at Portland, taking advantage of every opportunity he finds on the short track in order to stay up front." Add to that arsenal a brand new Ford F150 and the team hopes to capture their first top-five finish of the season.
As the No. 19 Pennzoil/Yellow Freight team heads to Portland, it is easy to see they have transformed last year's challenges to this year's progress. At this time a year ago, the team's average finish was 23rd, while this season it's 17th. Raines was 33rd in the point standings heading to Portland in '97, while he's 13th in the standings heading into this weekend's Craftsman 200 Presented by NAPA Auto Parts.
"It looks OK on paper, but honestly, we were expecting a lot more by this point in the season," Raines said. "It shows us we have learned a great deal, and we're applying that new information at each race. Let's hope an increase in the win column looks just as good by mid-season."
Following the Phoenix race, Raines climbed from 20th to 13th in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver point standings:
"That's quite a big jump and it's exactly what we needed," Raines said. "Everybody knows the name of the game is consistency and we've got to keep reeling in those top-ten and top-five finishes. I feel pretty good about Portland. My previous racing experience gives me a slightly higher comfort level with the short tracks. If I can remain aggressive, yet calculated through traffic, I'd like to see us end the day with a top-five finish and a move into the top ten in point standings." Source: NASCAR Online