TONY RAINES, DLP HDTV TEAM, DIRECT TV 500 NOTES AND QUOTES CORNELIUS, N.C., Tuesday, March, 28, 2006 -- The plan was formulated in the fall of 2005. For Hall of Fame Racing's first season with the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy, Terry Labonte would...
TONY RAINES, DLP HDTV TEAM, DIRECT TV 500 NOTES AND QUOTES
CORNELIUS, N.C., Tuesday, March, 28, 2006 -- The plan was formulated in the fall of 2005.
For Hall of Fame Racing's first season with the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy, Terry Labonte would drive the first five races, with Tony Raines driving the remaining races, except the two road course events at Infineon and Watkins Glen.
Part 1 of the plan is over and can be called successful. Simply put, Labonte did everything that was asked of him. First, he offered valuable experience to a team that didn't even have a race car last November. Second, he returned each car that he drove in one piece, something invaluable to a new NEXTEL Cup team. And third, he helped the team to three top-25 finishes and fully entrenched them in the top-35 in owner points.
With the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy 30th in owner points, Tony Raines, who has 54 career NEXTEL Cup starts, will take over driving duties.
TONY RAINES (No. 96 DLP®HDTV Chevrolet):
OVERALL THOUGHTS HEADING INTO MARTINSVILLE:
"Obviously, anxious to get started. Little bit nervous from jumping in cold-turkey. But, once we get on the track and get working and get through practice, then some of those butterflies will disappear. If I had my choice, I'm not sure I'd pick Martinsville as a place to start out at. It's your typical short-track, and it typically ends a lot like Bristol -- people getting spun out and run into and tempers flaring. I'd rather not start out in that position, but I don't have much choice about it. I'm going to try and run the whole race, keep the fenders on it and worry about racing for a good position and not getting caught up in any of that hooliganism."
THE TEAM TESTED AT CARAWAY SPEEDWAY ON MARCH 22, HOW DID THAT TEST GO?"
"We just shook the Martinsville car down. It went alright. We didn't hit anything. And, I think we learned a little bit of information that will help us going into Martinsville."
DO YOU HAVE ANY RUST TO KNOCK OFF, HAVING NOT RACED SINCE NOVEMBER OF 2005?
"I do. No matter how much you've worked out or how much you've mentally run laps and all of that, you know you're still going to use muscles you haven't used in a while. Martinsville is a long race, 500 laps around there, so, I'll probably be more tired than I hope to be, but we'll ease into it. We're going to race as hard as we can, though, and get the best finish that we can."
WHAT IS THE GOAL GOING INTO MARTINSVILLE?
"I've said that we can race in the top-25, so I think anything above that would be a good start. Really, I think the biggest goal would be to stay out of trouble. Get in there and race 500 laps without tearing the car up. Taking care of your equipment is a big priority there, but it's a tough one, because there are 42 other guys that want to take care of your equipment in a different way."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HAVING A GUARANTEED SPOT IN THE RACE?
"You know, in the past, running part time, I always had to qualify my way in, so we'll be able to focus on the race a little bit more than qualifying. We might give up a little in qualifying, but if we get it back in the race, that's more important than anything. I have a lot of appreciation for what Terry did for us. He didn't tear up any equipment and he really gave us good feedback and a good base to start the season from. For me, my job is to maintain and move up the ladder in points."
WHAT HAS YOUR COMMUNICATION BEEN LIKE WITH PHILIPPE LOPEZ THROUGHOUT THE FIRST FIVE RACES?
"I've been watching and listening more than I've been talking. When I get in there to drive the car, I'm going to try and make sure that Philippe knows what I think and what I'm feeling and to what degree. You know, how loose or how tight I am. Just making sure that he knows what I'm thinking and feeling."