BUSCH: Rookie Stripes Always Earned at Richmond

Tony Raines knows what earning 'Rookie Stripes' is all about. The 1999 Busch Series Rookie of the Year won last season's title with Bace Motorsports by performing consistently every weekend. Consistency is the key element necessary to win a...

Tony Raines knows what earning 'Rookie Stripes' is all about. The 1999 Busch Series Rookie of the Year won last season's title with Bace Motorsports by performing consistently every weekend. Consistency is the key element necessary to win a title or championship in any one of NASCAR's pinnacle series.

Consistency is a troublesome, and often illusive, animal to capture. Richmond happens to be one of its favorite places to hide.

Alan Russell, crew chief of the Bace Motorsports' No. 33 Bayer Chevrolet, has helped send many rookies on the chase for consistency, from Randy LaJoie to Johnny Benson. "One thing rookies always know how to do is wreck at Richmond. I don't know if there's any real way around it. You can test and test and test. But they always find the mess, hands down. If it's out there, they're in it."

Raines, who won last year's title battling Adam Petty and Hank Parker Jr., believes -at best- you can draw from past experiences when dodging unforeseen obstacles in any of Richmond's dangerously steeped turns.

"You can't rely on other experiences in different circuits to win a Busch Series' race. It's a good starting point, but it's not a complete package. But one of the things you can rely on from experience is how to avoid a wreck. I'm not saying it always works, because usually, and especially at Richmond, it doesn't."

The 2000 Rookies are across the board when it amounts to where they've come from and what they've accomplished. Raines has a unique comprehension of the subject: he has run in the majority of the series the new class has graduated from.

"There's no real advantage. I ran in the ASA and in the (NASCAR Craftsman) Truck Series. You take what you can and mold it so it fits to the current situation. My best advice to the rookies coming to Richmond? Listen to your spotter and hope that he's right about where to go so you avoid someone else's mistake."

"If you don't, you learn real quick that the term 'Rookie Stripes' isn't just some metaphor. They're talking about the stripes on the side of your car from the wreck you didn't avoid."

Bace Motorsports has acquired numerous accolades in the Busch Series: 1995, 1996, 1997 NASCAR Busch Series Championships; and 1994 and 1999 Rookie of the Year Titles. Tony Raines has collected 4 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series wins and the 1996 ASA Championship title.

Tony Raines' performances at the Richmond International Raceway Hardee's 250 (1999) Start: 15 Finish: 17 Laps: 249 $17,050 Running Autolite Platinum 250 (1999) Start: 34 Finish: 36 Laps: 178 $14,525 Running

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Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Adam Petty , Hank Parker Jr. , Johnny Benson , Tony Raines