Martinsville: Tony Raines preview

TONY RAINES The Car of Tomorrow Finally Makes Its Debut in Virginia CORNELIUS, N.C., (March 27, 2007) -- After all the talk about NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow, (COT) the first race has now come and gone and amazingly, the sun did rise on Monday...

TONY RAINES
The Car of Tomorrow Finally Makes Its Debut in Virginia

CORNELIUS, N.C., (March 27, 2007) -- After all the talk about NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow, (COT) the first race has now come and gone and amazingly, the sun did rise on Monday after it was all said and done.

Last week's Food City 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway was the first for the COT, which features a front splitter and a rear wing and is a few inches higher than the standard stock car it is replacing. There was plenty of research and development, plenty of complaints and compliments, and overall, just a lot of talk about the how the COT would fare.

Now the question is, where do we go from here?

The answer: Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C.

Tony Raines and the Hall of Fame Racing Team headed to Caraway on Tuesday, March 27, to shake down the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet Impala SS in preparation for Sunday's Goody's Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Both tracks are similar in layout, and Raines is hoping the one-day test session will lead to a productive weekend at Martinsville.

While Raines and crew chief Brandon Thomas have dissected and reviewed all the information from the Bristol race, Martinsville will be a different challenge for not only the No. 96 team, but for the other 42 cars as well.

While Bristol and Martinsville are both a half-mile in length, the similarities end there. Bristol has a rough, concrete surface and 36-degrees of banking in its corners. Martinsville has asphalt straightaways and concrete in the lower part of each turn, with the banking in those turns an almost non-existent 12 degrees.

So, while Raines and Co. learned a great deal about the COT at Bristol, how much of that will translate to Martinsville is yet to be determined. Therefore, the DLP HDTV team hopes that the all-important test at Caraway will lead to success just up the road in Martinsville.

Of Note: Officials from DLP HDTV donated 80 tickets for this weekends Goody's Cool Orange 500 to members of the Virginia Army National Guard and their families.

TONY RAINES (Driver, No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet):

What are your thoughts on the Car of Tomorrow after having gone through one race with it?

"It was about like we expected. It never really drove great, but I think a lot of that had to do with Bristol and the banking and the roughness of the track. I think Martinsville will be a lot different. Of course, going to Phoenix will be a lot different too. I don't know if it will be better or worse. I'm assuming it will be better because it won't be so rough. Like Kyle Busch said, his car got aero-tight in traffic at Bristol and I felt like mine did too. So, that's of some concern because that's only a 120 mph track. If you go somewhere even faster, you'd think that condition would be even worse. Time will tell."

Keeping in mind that you have driven only one race with the COT, what have you learned about it?

"It's just a little bit harder to get it dialed in. Again, that could have just been Bristol. You're limited front end-wise with what you can do with the limited travel. You just have to work harder on other stuff. There were a handful of guys that were just real loose at Bristol, and I think that will happen for three or four races before everybody gets it sorted out. Times were pretty tight at Bristol, and I think you'll see that across the board everywhere."

What do you expect going into Martinsville with the COT?

"Martinsville will be typical Martinsville. When you get there, you'll work on getting the car to turn in the center and go. Typically, everybody fights that problem, it's just who has the least amount of trouble. We shook the car down at Caraway and hopefully we've found a package that will work at Martinsville."

What are your overall thoughts on Martinsville?

"I've qualified and raced OK there. It's been a decent track to us and we hope to continue that. We'd like to qualify strong and run strong throughout the race. We seem to have been stumbling a little bit and not running as well as we could be. We're off sync a little bit, so we need to get it turned around there."

Who do you like in the Final Four?

"I think Georgetown will beat Ohio State. I'm not sure Ohio State is that good. If (Greg) Oden gets in foul trouble, I think they may be toast. Florida and UCLA are pretty good too. I think UCLA has a pretty good chance to win the whole thing."

Officials from DLP HDTV donated 80 tickets to the Virginia Army National Guard for this weekend's race. How do you feel about that?

"That's a pretty neat deal. The men and women of the Armed Forces and their families sacrifice so much. It's great to be able to give back in a small way. I know everyone at DLP and Texas Instruments was excited to do this for them and hopefully they'll have a great time. Roger (Staubach) served in the Navy, so he knows first hand how important all their jobs are, and he's always commented on how impressed he is as to how NASCAR involves the military at each race. It's nice to be a small part of that, and hopefully, the Virginia Army National Guard will be cheering on the DLP team this week."

-credit: hofr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Tony Raines , Kyle Busch
Teams Hall of Fame Racing