BUSCH: Tony Raines seals the deal at California

Tony Raines and the Bace Motorsports' No. 33 Bayer Chevrolet team trek to the California Speedway this weekend for the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series' Auto Club 300. The low banked, two mile oval appears to be a crew chief's track: one ...

Tony Raines and the Bace Motorsports' No. 33 Bayer Chevrolet team trek to the California Speedway this weekend for the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series' Auto Club 300.

The low banked, two mile oval appears to be a crew chief's track: one where a car's set up is the primary force in a good run, as opposed to the driver being the primary element in the contention for winning.

"You'd think it'd be the car. And don't misunderstand me, a good car is essential anywhere you go. But at California, there may be a little leeway. The track is pretty long and flat. But the length isn't there to feel the draft. Drafting is tough if you don't have the patience for it- it's frustrating for drivers because it's not about us, it's about the car.

"But at California, the straight-aways are long enough to get some good racing in, but short enough that the racing is about how the driver handles the car."

Raines, the 1999 Busch Series Rookie of the Year, also competed at the California Speedway in both 1997 and 1998 in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, but that experience does not always equate an unparalleled edge over the competition. The Busch Series' rookie class is littered with drivers transported from varying circuits, from the NASCAR Truck Series to the ASA.

"Sure it's good to have been on a track before even if it's not the same series. But it's not going to seal the deal. Drivers who have raced at California in a different series know the track's layout and a possibility of what it may feel like. But when you get into the animal of a Busch car, the rules change. You won't be able to go into a turn the same way or pass the same way.

"The tough part is overcoming that mentally. This still being the beginning of the season, it can be a rough ride to stop your gut reaction. But you can do it."

Raines has. In his second season in the Busch Series, he has laid the old gut reactions to rest and has developed the right ones. Raines sees himself and the Bace Motorsports Team making marked improvements.

"We had a great run at Talladega until we got into some trouble. The car's set up was on point. We've been hammering out the details of our California car for some time now and we feel confident we'll be competitive this weekend."

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Tony Raines