A Tale of Two Cars Raines Goes from One Extreme to the Other to Finish 28th at Kansas Start/Finish: 38th/28th (Running, completed 265 of 267 laps) Winner: Tony Stewart of Joe Gibbs Racing Tony Raines, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet...
A Tale of Two Cars
Raines Goes from One Extreme to the Other to Finish 28th at Kansas
Start/Finish: 38th/28th (Running, completed 265 of 267 laps)
Winner: Tony Stewart of Joe Gibbs Racing
Tony Raines, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet for Hall of Fame Racing, finished 28th in Sunday's Banquet 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway.
It was a Jekyll-and-Hyde kind of day for Raines, who began the 267-lap race around the 1.5-mile oval with an extremely tight race car, only to finish the race with a car that was much too loose.
The car began acting up shortly after the drop of the green flag, and by lap four, Raines had radioed to crew chief Philippe Lopez that the No. 96 machine was too tight coming off the track's corners.
"This car is as tight as it can possibly be," said Raines.
Luckily, a caution on lap nine allowed the team to make the necessary changes in an attempt to better the car. Four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment were ordered and Raines was sent back out to make another go of it.
Round two wasn't much better, as the Jekyll-like condition only seemed to worsen after the restart on lap 13. "It's still so tight off through the throttle," said Raines after only a couple of laps. "We need more changes."
A second caution on lap 15 offered Raines and Co. another opportunity to fix the problem. Air pressure changes and a spring rubber in the right rear were ordered, but it was to no avail. Raines fought a tight DLP HDTV Chevy over the next 40 laps.
He tried running a high line on the track. He tried the low line. Nothing seemed to help.
"It's gotten a little looser, but it's still so tight. I don't know how to make it better," radioed Raines.
A caution for debris on lap 59 gave the Hall of Fame team another chance at improving the car. A track bar adjustment, along with another spring rubber in the right rear and an increase in air pressure were all added to loosen up Raines' ride. And after the restart on lap 62, the tide began to turn.
Dr. Jekyll had disappeared, but Mr. Hyde took his place.
On lap 81, Raines radioed to Lopez that his car was now way too loose and getting worse. The No. 96 machine had gone from one extreme to the other in just a few laps. Soon the team was a lap down to the leader - a situation they would never overcome.
For the remainder of the race, it was a battle to keep control of an extremely loose race car that was even worse in traffic.
"Tighten us up," radioed Raines. "I'm too loose - way too loose. It's just traffic, but I'm really struggling."
The team made adjustments to the car at every opportunity. It wasn't until the final pit stop on lap 197 that the DLP HDTV crew finally found the right combination. As a result, the last run of the day was the best for Raines and Co. The car was showing improvement and the No. 96 was moving through the field.
But to add to an already mind-numbing day, Lopez broke the news to Raines that they would likely be a half a lap short on making it to the end of the race on fuel.
After a long, hard-fought day, Raines finally coasted across the finish line on fumes in 28th, three laps down to the leader.
"We just couldn't get it dialed-in today," said Raines. "We got the car either too tight or too loose, but we couldn't get it balanced. The last round was the best we were all day, but we ended up having to save gas, so it didn't do us much good. It was just one of those days."
Capturing the checkered flag was Joe Gibbs Racing's Tony Stewart, who scored his 27th career Nextel Cup victory and his third of the season. Casey Mears finished second, while Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett and Jeff Burton secured the rest of the top-five. Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, Brian Vickers, Clint Bowyer and Dale Earnhardt Jr. comprised the rest of the top-10.
The No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy remains 30th in NASCAR Nextel Cup owner points with 2,514 points. The No. 96 car is 69 points behind the No. 21 car (Ken Schrader) and 31 points ahead of the No. 14 car (Sterling Marlin).
The next event on the Nextel Cup schedule - the fourth race of the final 10-race Chase for the Championship - is the Oct. 8 UAW-Ford 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The race begins at 2:30 p.m. EDT with live, high-definition coverage provided by TNT.