Destination Fueled by Determination
CORNELIUS, N.C., (Sept. 26, 2006) -- In the movie "Rudy," Daniel Rudy Ruettiger was rejected by the admissions department of the University of Notre Dame several times. Finally, after never giving up, he was admitted to the prestigious school in South Bend, Ind.
The movie is all about perseverance and never giving up on one's goal.
Despite struggling in the last few NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races, Tony Raines and the No. 96 DLP HDTV Racing Team took a page from Rudy's playbook because they aren't giving up either. The first-year team is committed to finishing 2006 on a high note, as evidenced by a productive test last week at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
The Kentucky test was in preparation for this Sunday's Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway, another 1.5-mile oval with a layout similar to Kentucky's.
The Banquet 400 is the third race in the Chase for the Championship, and while Raines and the No. 96 team aren't a part of this year's Chase, there are still 42 other drivers to compete against and many points to be won. Honor and determination -- the same forces that inspired Rudy -- motivate Raines and the Hall of Fame Racing Team as they compete at NASCAR's highest level.
Just as Rudy's tenaciousness earned him an acceptance letter from Notre Dame, along with a walk-on spot with the Fighting Irish football team and a diploma, Raines and the DLP team look for their hard work to be rewarded with a strong finish at Kansas.
What are your thoughts heading into Kansas?
"It's a cookie-cutter. It's a mile-and-a-half tri-oval. I like the race track there. It's similar to Chicagoland and the old layout at Vegas a little bit. But even though I like this style of race track, it's kind of been our weakness season so far this season. We tested at Kentucky last week, so I think we opened up some ideas. So, I'm kind of anxious to go there and see if it works."
How did your test at Kentucky go?
"I thought it went fair. We got the car better from the time we unloaded, so we gained some ground on it. How that will translate to what we have currently -- a different tire at a different race track -- we'll have to see. Obviously, we don't race at Kentucky, so you have to take it with a grain of salt. But as far as testing goes, it's the closest place you can get to preparing yourself for Kansas. I felt good about it."
Kansas and Kentucky are both 1.5-mile ovals. How similar are the two tracks?
"From an aerial view, they probably look real similar, but I'd say Kansas has a little more banking."
You've raced at Kansas in both the NASCAR Busch Series and in Nextel Cup competition. What do you remember about racing there?
"I qualified 25th there one year in the Cup car and separated a tire on the second lap and took out half the field, so that was pretty interesting. It came apart, flew in the air, and I came around on the frontstretch and I think I took out about 10 cars. There wasn't much I could do about it. It was a freak deal.
"But I feel good about Kansas. We just need to see if we can get everything sorted out and get going."