Pocono II: Tony Raines race report

Raines Finishes 15th with a Little Help from Hollywood Tony Raines, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet for Hall of Fame Racing, finished 15th in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 presented by Rush Hour 3. Raines was in some fast company in ...

Raines Finishes 15th with a Little Help from Hollywood

Tony Raines, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet for Hall of Fame Racing, finished 15th in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 presented by Rush Hour 3.

Raines was in some fast company in today's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway -- and that's not including the 42 other drivers in the field. Rush Hour 3 was on the hood of his No. 96 Chevy, which just might have been the Hollywood magic the DLP team needed to bring home a solid finish.

As soon as the green flag dropped, it was evident that Raines had a good handling car. He quickly began moving through the field, traveling from his starting spot of 17th to 12th by lap seven. Raines' only complaint was that the car was a bit tight in the center of turn two.

During the first green flag pit stop on lap 30, crew chief Brandon Thomas ordered four tires, fuel and a half a round of wedge in the right rear to loosen up the No. 96 machine. The changes were a bit too drastic, however, as Raines radioed to his crew a mere four laps later that the car was way too loose coming out of turn one, yet it was still tight in turn two -- a testament to Pocono's quirky, 2.5-mile triangular layout.

A caution for debris on lap 55 gave the crew a second opportunity to make changes to the DLP Chevrolet. This time Thomas asked for an air pressure adjustment, tires, fuel and a half-round of wedge in the left rear to balance the car. The over-the-wall crew sprang to action, jacked up the car and went to work -- only the car wouldn't stay on the jack. The team lost valuable seconds trying to complete the pit stop, and as a result, lost several positions on the track. The restart came on lap 58 with Raines in 22nd.

The car continued to be too tight in turn two and loose in turn one, but another caution on lap 66 gave the DLP crew a chance to make more adjustments to the No. 96 machine. This time, Thomas ordered right side tires only, fuel, air pressure and more wedge in the left rear. The crew went to work on the car, but the problems with the jack remained. Another frustrating stop had the DLP team working to correct the problem in the pits while Raines continued his work on the track.

With the jack issue finally resolved, the No. 96 team seemed to be back in the swing of things, until a caution on lap 139. What should have been a routine pit stop was anything but when it was discovered that two lugnuts were left loose on the left front tire. Raines had to bring the car back in to fix the problem, and as a result, lost more track position.

In spite of restarting the race in 24th, Raines had a car that was good enough to take him toward the front. All was quiet on the radio as Raines picked his way through the field. By the time the checkered flag flew, the No. 96 DLP team was in 15th.

"It was a decent car," said Raines after scoring his fourth top-15 finish of the season. "We lost track position a couple of times, but we fought back. It was a long race. We probably finished about where we should have. Maybe we had a top-10 car or a top-12, but it was a good solid day. We needed it after a couple of weeks like we had."

"It was a little bit different set-up then what we've run before, especially at a place like this," Thomas added. "We were kind of struggling with the rear springs. When the car would jack up on the right side, it would cause the car to bounce around a little bit. The left side was just so low because of it being a downforce track. The left side was so low the jack wasn't fitting under the car, so we just had to make an adjustment with the fuelers to make sure we could get the car on the jack on the left side and make sure the car wouldn't rock on the jack on the right side. In the end, it was a good day and a good finish."

The No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet gained three spots in Nextel Cup owner points and now sits 26th in the standings with 1,840 points. Raines gained one position in driver points and is now 31st with 1,717 points.

Kurt Busch ended a 51-race winless streak that dated back to March 2006 by winning the Pennsylvania 500. It was his 16th career Nextel Cup victory and his second at Pocono. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five. Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Mark Martin and Casey Mears comprised the remainder of the top-10.

-credit: hofr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Casey Mears , Tony Raines , Jimmie Johnson , Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin , Mark Martin