Sunday, November 15, 2009

Raines’ Electrical Issue Gives Him 2nd In 2009 Rankings, Phoenix Sweep

Tony Raines picked up the 8th last-place finish of his career in Sunday’s Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at the Phoenix International Raceway when his #37 Long John Silver’s Chevrolet fell out with electrical problems after completing 6 of the race’s 312 laps.

It was Raines’ first Sprint Cup start since his most recent last-place finish at the AAA 400 at Dover in September. In the six races since, the #37 team has spent more time off the track than on it: The team first failed to qualify with Kevin Hamlin at Kansas, then Raines DNQ’d at California, Travis Kvapil DNQ’d at Charlotte, then qualified at Martinsville and finished last; and finally Raines withdrew at Talladega, then DNQ’d once again at Texas, where the team switched from Dodge to Chevrolet.

On Friday, Raines just squeaked his way into the field with a speed of 132.091 mph, giving him the 43rd and final starting spot. He remained there during the early stages and fell out during the opening green-flag run just 6 laps in. It was Raines’ fifth last-place finish, breaking his tie with Joe Nemechek for 2nd in the 2009 rankings.

Tony Raines has become the first driver to finish last in two consecutive Phoenix races; his first last-place finish of 2009 came while driving Barry Haefele’s #73 Dodge in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 back in the spring. Raines also finished last at Phoenix in the fall of 2002.

It is the first time the #37 has finished last at Phoenix since an ailing Rick Carelli parked his Chesrown Chevrolet on the second lap of the 1992 Pyroil 500 in response to injuries he suffered in a companion race earlier that weekend.

The #37 team now has seven last-place finishes in 2009 (5 with Tony Raines, 1 each with Tony Ave and Travis Kvapil), second only to the Phil Parsons’ #66 team, which has scored all 8 of its finishes with Dave Blaney. Blaney, who went behind the wall 3 laps after Raines, finished 42nd on Sunday, marking the 10th time in 2009 he has come just one spot shy of finishing in last.

43) #37-Tony Raines / 6 laps / electrical
42) #66-Dave Blaney / 9 laps / overheating
41) #36-Michael McDowell / 36 laps / brakes
40) #87-Joe Nemechek / 47 laps / power steering
39) #71-Bobby Labonte / 169 laps / crash

1st) Dave Blaney (8)
2nd) Tony Raines (5)
3rd) Joe Nemechek (4)
4th) Mike Bliss (3)
5th) Patrick Carpentier, David Gilliland, Bobby Labonte (2)
6th) Tony Ave, Todd Bodine, P.J. Jones, Matt Kenseth, Travis Kvapil, Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Mike Skinner, Mike Wallace (1)

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