Tony Raines, No. 96 DLPÂ® HDTV Chevrolet Monte Carlo - Hall of Fame Racing (Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, team owners) chatted with media prior to the first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series practice session at Martinsville Speedway. The DIRECT TV 500...
Tony Raines, No. 96 DLP® HDTV Chevrolet Monte Carlo - Hall of Fame Racing (Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman, team owners) chatted with media prior to the first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series practice session at Martinsville Speedway. The DIRECT TV 500 will be Raines first time as the driver of the No. 96 Monte Carlo. The newly formed team put two-time Cup champion Terry Labonte in the car for the first five events of 2006.
What has it been like the first five races watching someone else drive your car?
"It hasn't been that bad. Friday and Saturday weren't too bad, there is just a lot going on. But Sunday was a little tougher. It is harder to watch a race than it is to be in the car driving it. You see a lot more of what is going on and it scares you a little bit.
"Things have gone well. We had a good test Wednesday at Kentucky. I am a little bit nervous, but I am excited. I am ready to get in the car. I know it is going to take some time to get acclimated so I want to just get that over with."
Ideally is Martinsville the track you would want to start your season in the car?
"Not ideally, no. But it is a race. I have raced here before so I should know how to get around here. They have changed the track some since the last time I raced here so hopefully we can get that all sorted out pretty quick."
Do you know what the biggest changes are you will face?
"They have changed this track so many times. I have run a truck here as well as a Cup car. I am not sure exactly what all we will have to overcome. When we got in the car at Kentucky, it was just like riding a bicycle, it didn't take long. We worked on the handling to make the car better. We went there with the only change in the car from Terry (Labonte) was my seat. He is a one-footed driver and I am not so I am sure there are a lot of things that make him feel better that wouldn't work for me. That may work for me, but we don't know that yet. We have to work that out and that might take us two or three races.
"But we have someone to lean on in the other Gibbs cars. We can use that information and hopefully we can get the best effort today and tomorrow and race well on Sunday."
Is there a lot of pressure on you right now given this is a start-up team?"
"Yes, there is a lot expected. There are a lot of hopes. For any start-up team it is difficult because you have no notebook. We have not ran here together as a team. You have a bunch of guys that are coming together so there are a lot of things evolving. I have been here watching it and it is interesting to see it from that perspective although I would prefer to have been in the car. I am going to try and use that to my advantage.
"It is all about communications and all about the people you have working on the car. I think we have good people, good sponsorship and good equipment. I think we can get the job done. Top 25 or better is what I am hoping for.
"I have worked with Philippe before and we communicate pretty well. I like his style, he doesn't get too excited. He is laid back and he listens and he just wants to make the car better. He knows if he can make the driver happy, it usually goes faster."
What is it like to have celebrity team owners?
"I have certainly met a lot of (Dallas) Cowboy fans recently. I told someone recently if we can run well and make them proud, that would be a pretty neat situation. To make two competitors like Troy (Aikman) and Roger (Staubach) proud of their race team and our efforts is my goal. Making DLP happy with our performance will also keep Roger and Troy happy which makes me happy and everybody will be smiling."
How do you feel about racing in Texas next week?
"I think there is going to be a little bit of pressure there because we have a lot going on. That's OK. I knew this would be a tough race to start at and then go right on to Texas, which will have extra pressure because of all the additional activity. I think once we get through these first two races in good shape, the rest of the schedule will be a lot of fun because we will be going to tracks that we are going to repeat at later in the season. We can start building up our information and momentum. I am excited to be here but like I said, I am a little nervous because there is a lot at stake. At the same time, I would much rather be here than not be here."
Do you worry about getting caught up in someone else's fussing and feuding?
"Coming to Martinsville right after Bristol is kind of a tough thing because there are a lot of people who are mad at one another. I am just jumping right in the middle of it. I don't think anybody is mad at me, there might be a couple that could be but hopefully they will have forgotten it or they are mad at someone else now. My goal is to keep the fenders on the car and if that means giving up two or three spots near the end, I am going to do that, we need to finish all the laps and learn more as a team. But the next time we come here, I won't be doing that. "
Is it as difficult to stay out of trouble here as it is at Bristol? "It is equally as difficult here as it is at Bristol without a doubt. I think if you give up a lot early, it is really the last 50 laps where you can gain a lot of spots if your car is in one piece. There are going to be incidents throughout the race and you just have to stay focused on saving your equipment. It gets hard because if someone is beating on you because they are in a hurry, you have to keep your temper in check and take care of your car. Then by the last 50, hopefully you have made your car better and you have the most speed at the end when it counts."