Focusing on '06; Looking to '07 CORNELIUS, N.C., (Oct. 11, 2006) -- As the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series head to Charlotte for a 'home' race this week, Hall of Fame Racing will have a bit of a different look. Brandon Thomas was named as crew chief...
Focusing on '06; Looking to '07
CORNELIUS, N.C., (Oct. 11, 2006) -- As the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series head to Charlotte for a 'home' race this week, Hall of Fame Racing will have a bit of a different look.
Brandon Thomas was named as crew chief for Tony Raines and the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet beginning with this week's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte. Thomas takes over for Philippe Lopez who will now concentrate full-time on his duties as competition director as Hall of Fame Racing looks to expand and grow in the coming years.
So why switch crew chiefs this late in the season? The answer is simple -- to get ready for 2007. Raines and Thomas will now have six races to get to know each other and work together in preparation for the 2007 Nextel Cup Series season.
But, while the team is looking toward 2007, Raines and Thomas are still focused on finishing up 2006 strong, because, after all, the strong a team finishes in '06, the more likely success will come in '07.
What did you think of the Charlotte race in the spring -- the first race on the new pavement?
"It was smooth. The tires were a little hard overall. Everyone had the same problem, but we kind of got bit in practice. We were pretty decent speed-wise and got loose and got in the fence. We tried to fix that car and in hindsight, that may not have been our best choice. In the race we kind of stumbled a little bit at the start, then we got running well and then we had a carburetor issue. I've always like Charlotte and always liked the racetrack. I enjoy racing at Charlotte -- I don't have the results to prove that, but I do like racing there."
What are you thoughts on Brandon Thomas as the new crew chief? Is it odd for you to switch crew chiefs in the middle of the season?
"Yes and no, and more no. >From my standpoint, my job is still the same. I try to drive it the fastest and the best I can and try to give as good of feedback as possible. You'll have a little bit of a learning curve because everybody's personality is different."
Is hiring a new crew chief and hiring additional people part of the continued growth of Hall of Fame Racing?
"I think it definitely is. For a single-car team, we don't have an excessive amount of employees. We have good people. I think it's just a natural progression to have someone to focus on the car itself, rather than all of the administrative duties and the car."
How much do you enjoy the Charlotte race being on Saturday night so you can have a day off on Sunday?
"It's always fun to race on Saturday night. And, to have Sunday off, maybe we'll have a chance to relax and goof off a little bit Sunday afternoon. That'd be fun. It should be an enjoyable weekend."
Notes of Interest:
Tony Raines will make his 24th start of the season in the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy at Charlotte. He has 13 top-25 finishes.
Raines has 11 NASCAR Busch Series starts at Charlotte. His best finish was 11th in Oct. 2002.