TONY RAINES Change of Luck at Dover, Perhaps? CORNELIUS, N.C. (Sept. 19, 2007) -- Throughout the course of any traditional stick-and-ball sports season, a team can reflect on certain points within the year that if the ball would have bounced...
Change of Luck at Dover, Perhaps?
CORNELIUS, N.C. (Sept. 19, 2007) -- Throughout the course of any traditional stick-and-ball sports season, a team can reflect on certain points within the year that if the ball would have bounced a little differently, the results might have been quite a bit different.
A dropped pass here, a ground ball through the legs there, heck, even a questionable call by an official can change the outcome of a football, baseball or basketball game.
NASCAR racing is no different. Tony Raines and the DLP HDTV team seem to know that first hand. While Raines and Co. have arguably been running better than they did in 2006, sometimes luck just hasn't been on their side. A mechanical issue late in the race, an unscheduled pit stop, bad timing on a caution flag or getting caught up in an accident are just some of the things that seem to have plagued the DLP team this season.
As the DLP team heads to Dover (Del.) International Speedway this weekend for the Dodge Dealers 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race, Raines and his crew will no doubt be reminded of how bad luck struck them in the June event at the 1-mile concrete oval.
Raines started 25th in the spring race and methodically worked his way through the field during the first half of the race. He cracked the top-20 by lap 71 and the top-15 by lap 117. He was nearing the top-10 on lap 228 when he was forced to make an unscheduled pit stop to fix a loose wheel. The pit stop, which took place under green, caused him to fall back to 30th, two laps down. He eventually rallied to finish a respectable 21st.
It's obvious that Raines and the DLP team know how to get their Chevy Impala Car of Tomorrow to handle well at Dover. Now it's just a matter of having a little luck on their side and to score that first top-10 finish of the season.
TONY RAINES (Driver, No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet):
Talk about the June race at Dover, your first there with the Car of Tomorrow (CoT).
"I think we had a pretty good car there. We had an unscheduled pit stop under green that kind of took us out of the hunt."
How did the CoT handle at Dover?
"I thought the car handled better at Dover than it has most places. I think the banking causes the car to travel so much at Dover. Really, that's typical of any car you run at Dover. I thought the balance of the car was better than most other places that I've driven the CoT."
In addition to the Nextel Cup race, you are competing in the NASCAR Busch Series race at Dover. How hard is it to switch between the different cars?
"There is a difference, but at Dover, I think it's one of the few places where it's not as much of a difference between the Busch car and the CoT."
It seems like the DLP team has had some tough luck this year. How hard is that on you and the team?
"It's tough. Whenever we have trouble, be it driver error, motor, car or pit stop, it's always at the worst possible time, not some time when we can recover from it. That's disappointing. It seems like we've had a few gremlins this year, whether it was a few wrecks we shouldn't have been in or a couple of parts that failed us. You could go down the list to five or six races and point to places where we should have had really good finishes. In that respect, it seems like we've had a monkey on our back all year and can't get rid of it. That's frustrating, because I think we've run better this year -- faster than last year, but we don't have better results."
You made your first Nextel start at Dover in 2002. What do you remember about that?
"I remember we qualified well and had a good car. We ran respectably all race long, but we ended up having some trouble and had to pit under green a couple of times. I've always liked the place. I've run well there in the Busch cars and done respectably in the Cup cars. Not that it's my favorite track, but I enjoy that race track because it's tough. It's a long race, and the drivers earn their money there."
The track can be tough on equipment. How important is taking care of your car?
"It's no more important there than anywhere else. It's just at Dover, it's just so fast coming off the corners. It's really easy to brush the wall and pancake the side of (your car). If you hit the front wheels, you'll knock the front end alignment out of it. It's just a little tougher because there is less room for error. The track can get pretty narrow."