Even though Sunday's Aaron's 499 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway lasted 192 laps, only two of them really made a difference in Tony Raines' day. On Lap 181, Raines was in ninth place. On Lap 182, Raines was in ...
Even though Sunday's Aaron's 499 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway lasted 192 laps, only two of them really made a difference in Tony Raines' day.
On Lap 181, Raines was in ninth place.
On Lap 182, Raines was in 20th-place.
Ladies and Gentlemen, meet "The Draft."
Talladega, as well as Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, are the only two restrictor-plate tracks on the Nextel Cup circuit, where aerodynamics and horsepower reign supreme. But when everyone has a car capable of hitting nearly 200 mph, drivers need drafting partners to push them through the air and ahead of their counterparts.
Raines' No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet was sleek and fast, but a lack of help at a critical juncture left Raines outside a freight train of cars. After being in the top-10 for nearly 20 laps, Raines was going backward as his competitors slipstreamed past him.
"We just didn't get any help at the end," Raines said. were up there and "We got shuffled back."
Raines started 27th in the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet and stayed mid-pack for the first 75 percent of the race. After a caution came out on Lap 130 for a multi-car accident on the backstretch, crew chief Brandon Thomas called for Raines to pit for four tires and fuel on Lap 131.
Four laps later, Thomas again called for Raines to pit for fuel only, with the strategy being that they could make it to the scheduled 188-lap distance without having to pit again.
Unfortunately, the gamble didn't pay off as the engine blew in rookie David Reutimann's car on Lap 184, meaning the race distance would be extended via a green/white/checkered finish. Raines had to pit for fuel on Lap 187, which dropped him to 26th.
After the restarted on Lap 190, there was a multi-car accident in Turn 2. Raines was able to avoid the accident and move up to his ultimate finishing position of 22nd, as the ensuing caution effectively ended the race.
"It wasn't the finish we wanted, but we didn't lose a whole lot in the points," Raines said. "We'll get ready for Richmond next week."
Raines is 22nd in driver points with 849 points. He is 672 points behind leader Jeff Gordon and seven points back of 21st-place J.J. Yeley. The No. 96 car is 22nd in Nextel Cup owner points, and its 849-point tally puts it 193 points ahead of the No. 10 car, which is in 36th place.