by JamesJ, Special To NASCAR commentary and driver pictures, 2012 NASCAR schedule, video, Bench Racing With Steve and Charlie
Sundays of my youth consisted of NASCAR racing and cold bottles of Mountain Dew. Thirty years later not much has changed for me. However, nearly everything has changed in NASCAR.January 8, 2010 3:00 pm UTC No Comments
Over the next several weeks we’ll be featuring car numbers in NASCAR history. We started with #50 and are working our way down the line. With each car number we’ll take a brief look at a couple stats related to the featured car number, but we’ll primarily spotlight either a driver, sponsor, car owner, manufacturer or other significant subject closely tied to the car number of the day.
While looking at subjects to consider for today’s post I came across a driver who came into NASCAR Cup racing at an age out of the norm. The Cup rookies of recent years seem to be getting younger and younger. If I were comparing today’s subject to a young rookie referred to as “Sliced Bread”, I’d have to refer to this driver as “Sour Dough Bread.”
Stats for all cars running the #37:
- Number of Races: 403
- Number of Wins: 1
- Number of Top 5s: 16
- Number of Top 10s: 73
- Number of Poles: 2
Check out current NASCAR race statistics here at On Pit Row!
Spotlight Subject: Driver Tony Raines
In a time where most all the new Cup drivers are these young guys coming in, Tony got his break in to the top series of NASCAR when he was in his 40s. Tony will tell you, “Racing is a lot of luck, both on and off the track.” In 1998, luck off the track was with him. The story goes, “I was flying home from the Truck Series Race at Sonoma (Calif.). A guy came onto the plane and sat down next to me and asked me what I did. I told him I raced in the Truck Series. He told me he owned a Busch Series team called BACE Motorsports. I was looking for a job, and he was looking for a driver. Two weeks later, we signed a contract. It was pretty wild how it came together.”
And thus Tony Raines began his Cup rookie season in 2003 totaling 41 races for BACE Motorsports. His best finish for BACE was a 6th place at Rockingham and he finished 33rd in the championship standings. He finished third in the Rookie of the Year standings. The team managed to run the vast majority of the year without major sponsorship. At the end of the season, when BACE couldn’t secure sponsorship, they closed the doors on their Cup operation and the following year ran a part-time schedule in the Busch Series with Tony. During the 2004 and 2005 seasons Tony would bounce from ride to ride around from the Cup, Busch and Truck Series driving for numerous team owners. One such owner was John Carter and his #37 Dodge. While Tony was primarily running a Busch Series car for Kevin Harvick at this time, Tony was determined to take as much seat time in the Cup series as possible. Those 5 races in the #37 would add to his Cup level experience, especially in the draft at Talladega where Tony would start dead last, but finish 22nd. Since that race he has equaled or bested that finish position in each of the four times he has returned to Talladega.
The determination and seat time paid off finally in 2005 when he got the call from the newly formed Hall of Fame Racing. HoF was a new race team owned by Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach. Tony met with HoF Racing and shortly thereafter was offered the job. Finally, Tony would have a team with major sponsorship to compete in the Cup series. Winston Cup champion Terry Labonte was also hired to assist Tony and the new organization to help ensure they made the first few races with the added security of his champions provisional. In 2007 Tony had an average finish of 25th, and his best finish of 9th came at none other than Talladega while driving for HoF.
Despite finishing 29th in the 2007 Cup series standings and thereby keeping the HoF Racing team in the top 35 in owner points, Tony Raines was released at the end of the 2007 season. In 2008 HoF Racing put JJ Yeley behind the wheel of the DLP Toyota. Tony ran only limited Cup schedule in 2008 and mostly “start-n-parks” in 2009.
On an unrelated note, take a look at the #37 Patron Tequila car above. One of the complaints about the Car of Tomorrow has been that they’re ugly. But in my opinion the last generation of cars have always looked pretty ugly in their own right too. There’s hardly any symmetry to them. The front fenders were warped differently on each side, and same goes for the rear fenders. The green house always looked odd to me and the nose looks off center too. Nothing pretty about those cars either.