Chicagoland: Tony Raines preview

TONY RAINES, DLP HDTV TEAM, SWEET HOME CHICAGO (SORT OF) CORNELIUS, N.C., Tuesday, July 4, 2006 -- Tony Raines is heading back to Sweet Home Chicago -- sort of. Raines hails from nearby La Porte, Ind., just an hour east of ...

TONY RAINES, DLP HDTV TEAM, SWEET HOME CHICAGO (SORT OF)

CORNELIUS, N.C., Tuesday, July 4, 2006 -- Tony Raines is heading back to Sweet Home Chicago -- sort of.

Raines hails from nearby La Porte, Ind., just an hour east of Chicagoland Speedway. And, while heading to what could be considered somewhat of a "home" track, Raines and the DLP HDTV team hope to continue their quiet climb in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup owner points.

In the last three races the No. 96 DLP HDTV team has moved from 30th to 25th in owner points.

TONY RAINES (No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy):

Overall thoughts heading into Chicagoland:

"I like the track. To me, Chicago and Kansas are real similar. It's a mile-and-a-half, but it's a little flatter than Charlotte or Atlanta, so if you hit on something at Chicago, then it should be good at Kansas, and vice versa. I think we ran pretty good at Kansas and Chicago in 2003 (with BACE Motorsports). So, hopefully we can get a handle on it pretty quick."

Is there a second groove at Chicagoland?

"I wouldn't think there would be a second groove at Chicago. The further (you are) on the bottom, the better."

What is a lap like around Chicagoland?

"It's a D-shaped oval, so you've got a nice wide entry into (Turn) 1, tight exit off of (Turn) 2, straight down the backstretch, tight entry into (Turn) 3, wide exit out of (Turn) 4. You kind of go up the hill and then down the hill to the start/finish line. It's a fun track to drive. It's pretty fast. It's pretty simple really, just a D-shaped oval."

Chicagoland is sort of a hometown race for you. You grew up in La Porte, Ind., just one hour east of Chicagoland Speedway and your mother and step-father still live in that area. Can you talk about that?

"Yeah, they're about an hour east. There's probably more people at Chicagoland than I know at other racetracks. I don't know if I'd call it a "home" track because I didn't' grow up going there because it wasn't built yet. After the race is over though, I'm going to drive to my mom's house and spend the night, so I guess you can't get much closer than that. After that, we'll drive down to Indy for the test Tuesday morning."

Where do you feel that the DLP team's 1.5-mile program is at right now?

"Terry (Labonte) struggled a little bit on those. There were a couple of those when he drove in the first five races. We didn't run as good as we were hoping. I think I struggled at Texas out of the box, but got better in the race. We went to Michigan (2-mile track) and we struggled a little bit in qualifying, but we got going really well in the race and then had a bad tire. I'm confident we can get it by the end of the weekend. If we start out good then, we'll get to that point a lot quicker. And, if we're struggling when we unload than it will just take some work. I think it'll be easier at Chicago than it was at Michigan, because Michigan's a little bit tougher."

You are only allowed to test on six of the tracks you race at (Daytona, Las Vegas, Richmond, Charlotte, Indianapolis and Homestead). How hard is it, as a new team, when you can't test at a place like Chicago or Kansas because of the testing limits?

"It hurts us somewhat. I've been there a little bit, but as a team we haven't been there at all, so we're behind everybody else a little bit. We can get it done, it just takes a little bit more effort and a little bit more time. But, I think we can hold our own."

You've said you are anxious to get to some tracks a second time so that you have information about the track heading into the weekend. Is it frustrating that even at the halfway point, three out of the next four races (Chicagoland, New Hampshire and Indianapolis) are tracks that the DLP team has not been to yet this year?

"It's a little bit more of an obstacle. I'm anxious to go back to Pocono in the next couple of weeks, because I think we had a good car there, and I think if we can improve the areas where we were weak than we can obviously show up faster. Same with Charlotte, Talladega and across the board. Yeah, Chicago, New Hampshire and Indy -- we'll have a test at Indy, which will help us a lot. The test at Charlotte helped us a lot. When we came back we were pretty fast until the driver hit the wall. Hopefully the test at Indy will really help us a lot. Testing at Indy will help us at Pocono too, but it will help everyone else too. Chicago will be a good test for us for Kansas. New Hampshire, we'll go back there a second time in the fall. You either love it or you hate it and I'm the fence with it."

-hofr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Tony Raines