Rain(es) in the Desert: Early Accident Causes Long Day in Phoenix Tony Raines began the Checker Auto Parts 500k NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway with high hopes as his eighth-place starting spot was his best in two...
Rain(es) in the Desert: Early Accident Causes Long Day in Phoenix
Tony Raines began the Checker Auto Parts 500k NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway with high hopes as his eighth-place starting spot was his best in two years.
However, it was all downhill after the green flag dropped and he finished 37th.
Raines, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet for Hall of Fame Racing, fought an ill-handling car from the get-go as he fell to 27th by lap 25. He reported to crew chief Brandon Thomas that the car was loose entering the corner, tight in the center and loose exiting the corner.
Throughout the next several pit stops, Thomas and the DLP crew tweaked the car's handling through a series of track-bar, tire-pressure and shock adjustments. While the effort was strong, it proved of little matter.
On the 149th lap, Kasey Kahne made contact with the outside retaining wall in turn four with the right side of his car. Kahne bounced off the wall and shot to the left, side-swiping the right-side of Raines' DLP HDTV Chevrolet.
Raines pitted throughout the next two laps, but told Thomas he could feel something severely wrong with the car when he was driving around during the caution period. A trip to the garage area revealed that the contact and subsequent flat right-side tires caused the right-front sway-bar link to drag, grinding it down to a nub. The DLP crew had to spend 10 minutes replacing the entire front sway-bar assembly.
Raines returned to the track several laps down and was out of contention for a good finish.
"It's disappointing," Raines said. "We had trouble getting the handle on it early and then got run into by Kasey after he hit the wall. It's not the day we were looking for."
Despite the poor finish, the No. 96 car dropped only one spot to 24th in Nextel Cup owner points. Raines remained 28th in driver points.