Charlotte: Tony Raines preview

TONY RAINES, DLP HDTV TEAM, COCA-COLA 600 NOTES AND QUOTES CORNELIUS, N.C., Tuesday, May 23, 2006 -- The Coca-Cola 600 is considered one of the biggest races within the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. It's also the longest. Think of the NFL ...

TONY RAINES, DLP HDTV TEAM, COCA-COLA 600 NOTES AND QUOTES

CORNELIUS, N.C., Tuesday, May 23, 2006 -- The Coca-Cola 600 is considered one of the biggest races within the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.

It's also the longest.

Think of the NFL adding a fifth quarter to a regular-season game. That is essentially what happened many years ago when the Coca-Cola 600, the longest race on the Nextel Cup circuit, was born.

It starts in the day and ends under nightfall and in between, there are 600 miles and a staggering 400 laps on the 1.5-mile oval near Charlotte. It is the ultimate endurance test for man and machine.

Tony Raines, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy, has competed in one Coca-Cola 600 (2003 -- started 25th; finished 37th) and knows how important it is to simply survive the 600-mile distance. The team tested the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy in early May and competed in the Nextel Open last week. With a new track surface and a harder tire, the Coca-Cola 600 could one of the more interesting events on the 36-race schedule.

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A release from DLP Products about their DLP Cinema® digital projectors involvement in the premier of Disney's CARS on Friday night at the Speedway will be sent out immediately following these notes and quotes.

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TONY RAINES (No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy):

Overall thoughts heading into the Coca-Cola 600:

"We're going to show up on Thursday in qualifying trim and do the best we can for two laps and see what we can come up with. We had a different setup for the Nextel Open than we did at the test. We've kind of played around with it a little bit and we'll see if we can't combine the best of both of those, get us a good lap and a good starting position for the '600'."

A lot of drivers in the Nextel Cup and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races last weekend had problems in Turns 2 and 4. What are your thoughts on that?

"New tires or cold tires are loose, but we'll have to figure out how to adjust for that. We weren't quite as loose as they were, obviously, but we'll go back and try even harder. The track will be a little different, and we're going to try and go faster than we did last week. Hopefully we can tune the car to match what we're looking for."

How big is the bump in Turn 4?

"I don't think it's any worse than it was before. If anything, I think the bump in Turn 1 is a little bit more situated than it used to be. I call it a jump, but I don't think Turn 4 was any worse than it was before. I'm sure as the track gets a summer or two on it, it's going to change, and it will have a lot of the characteristics that it had before. I really don't think they changed anything under the pavement when they striped it. I think they left the dirt alone and just repaved it. Give it a year or two, and it will be the same old Charlotte."

We've seen a race at Charlotte with the new surface and a hard tire. What can we expect to see for 600 miles?

"I don't think you'll see a lot of side-by-side (racing). The second grove really isn't that good yet. It's going to be slick. Starting in the daylight -- the track will change quite a bit when it gets dark. Whoever can adapt from the daylight conditions to the nighttime conditions will be the guy who excels the best. If you're good at night, but not good in the day, you're going to struggle in the beginning, and it could get you in trouble early on and vice-versa. With the tires being so hard, the aero-tightness is worse than it's been all year. And, the track is so smooth and the tires are so hard, you have grip right up until you have absolutely none, and that's why you see a lot of guys spinning out."

Thoughts on racing 600 miles, the longest race of the season, and that the race starts in the daytime and ends under darkness:

"It's definitely a test, physically, for the driver and the car. For the crew chief and the crew, it's a test to find a good balance for the car between daytime and then at night for the end of the race. It's kind of a neat deal, because there are a lot of factors you have to weigh to get it to work out. It's not as easy as some of the other races. You get a lot of first time winners at the '600'. You get a lot of attrition because it's a long race, so you definitely have to pace yourself a little bit so that you're around at the finish. But at the same time, there's 43 guys running as hard they can to race all night to get the best finish they can. It's definitely a tough one in every area and that makes it unique in every area."

It's a big weekend for your sponsor, DLP Products, as their DLP Cinema® digital projectors (12 of them) will be showing the premier of Disney's CARS on Friday night at the Speedway. Are you excited about that?

"We're looking forward seeing all that. I was trying to figure out how they're going to put that all up. I'm not sure if I'm smart enough to figure all that out yet. It's going to be a neat deal. When I saw the DLP Cinema technology in their corporate showroom, or their R&D center down in Dallas, I was blown away. It'll be pretty cool to see it put to use in an event like this. The picture quality is unbelievable. I'm looking forward to it, for sure."

-hofr-

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Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Tony Raines