Intent On Conquering the 2-Mile Oval -- California Style CORNELIUS, N.C., (Aug. 28, 2007) -- While most Americans will be battling the barbeque this Labor Day weekend, Tony Raines and the DLP HDTV team will be waging their own battle against a...
Intent On Conquering the 2-Mile Oval -- California Style
CORNELIUS, N.C., (Aug. 28, 2007) -- While most Americans will be battling the barbeque this Labor Day weekend, Tony Raines and the DLP HDTV team will be waging their own battle against a 2-mile oval in Fontana, Calif.
Raines and the DLP team head west for this Sunday night's Cal 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at California Speedway in Fontana. The 2-mile California Speedway, much like its sister track, the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, has not been kind to Raines or the DLP team.
That said, Raines and Co., are bringing Chassis No. 024, which they ran in July at the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Raines qualified 11th and was running well before getting involved in an accident with Kasey Kahne, which knocked Raines out of the race and relegated him to a 41st-place finish.
Chassis No. 024 is now repaired and, along with Raines and the DLP team, is ready to finally conquer the 2-mile ovals, starting with this weekend at California.
TONY RAINES (Driver, No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet):
The DLP team is bringing the same chassis that ran at Indianapolis. Does that give you confidence heading into California?
"I think it was the best body we had and it was a great chassis at Indy, up until we crashed. I think the confidence I have is because the DLP guys have worked really hard. The cars have been faster, lately. We've just had some bad luck on finishing positions. We're pretty confident that we'll be better. We're shooting for improvement in qualifying and then getting the car running well in the race."
Can you describe a lap around California?
"The front stretch has a slight curve to it, and turn one is one of the faster turns that you enter. You're going a little more than 200 mph. Coming down the banking, it flattens out in the center a little bit, which makes the car not want to turn, and then it flattens out again as you exit the turn. The back stretch is pretty straight. Then, turns three and four have a tight entry, but then it's got a long center and a long exit, so it's kind of fun to drive that end. The car is on the edge the whole way through there. You have to carry it, sometimes. It might be a little tight or a little loose at any time. It's certainly an exciting turn to drive. It's not quite as fast as (turns) one and two, but it's fast enough."
How frustrating have the 2-mile tracks been to you and the DLP HDTV team?
"It's been very frustrating because California and Michigan are so similar. Those seem to be our worst two tracks, performance-wise. They're not hard tracks to drive, but if your car isn't handling well, it makes it more difficult because it's such a big place. The speeds are so high that if you are off just a little bit, it magnifies it. It's not a hard track to drive, but if you can't get the car to do what you want it to do, it can become tricky."
A lot of people say Michigan and California are identical tracks. Are they really that similar?
"You know, it's funny. They're similar, but they are really two different race tracks, setup-wise. I think what works there will definitely slide over to Michigan, but it's hard to tell exactly what will work."
How do you deal with the sun setting in the early part of the race?
"You can wear a tear-off on your visor to get through the start. That sun goes down there pretty fast, so it's not too bad of a deal. It will go away pretty quickly."
You and Jeff Green had a friendly wager at Bristol about who would finish higher in the race. The bet stated that the driver who got beat by the other had to wear the other driver's hat this weekend at California. Green passed you on the last lap at Bristol. Are you ready to wear a Best Buy hat this week?
"Jeff got us by one position on the last lap, which was disappointing. But, I'm happy to wear a Best Buy hat at California. DLP and Best Buy have a great relationship and I have no problem supporting that by wearing a Best Buy hat. Hopefully, it will encourage people to by their DLP HDTV at Best Buy. It was a fun little wager that Jeff and I had at Bristol and I think the folks at DLP and Best Buy enjoyed it, too."
BRANDON THOMAS (Crew Chief, No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet):
You used to live in Southern California. Where did you work and how long did you live out there?
"I lived in Huntington Beach, which I miss terribly. I lived there from late 1997 through the middle of 1999. I worked with Dan Gurney's All-American Racers in the CART Series. I wasn't home that much, but I really did like it out there. I left there because stock cars were a better future for me."
What do you miss about living out there?
"I miss the beach, the pier, good fish tacos and Main Street Huntington Beach. I miss the ladies of southern California, who are rather attractive."