Heating Up Heading Into 'Zona CORNELIUS, N.C., (April 17, 2007) -- As happy as Tony Raines is after the hustle and bustle of Texas week is over, he is equally happy that the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet continues to steadily improve as the eighth...
Heating Up Heading Into 'Zona
CORNELIUS, N.C., (April 17, 2007) -- As happy as Tony Raines is after the hustle and bustle of Texas week is over, he is equally happy that the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet continues to steadily improve as the eighth race of the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season is upon us.
Heading into the Subway Fresh Fit 500k at the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) oval, Raines is coming off his best finish of the season -- 13th -- in last Sunday's Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. The finish put him 25th in Nextel Cup driver points, his highest ranking of the season. And he is just 25 points outside of the top-20.
Raines will look to continue his climb in the standings at a track where he has experienced moderate success throughout his career in NASCAR's top three divisions.
In last year's spring Nextel Cup race, he finished a respectable 17th, which was his first top-20 of the 2006 season. In addition, Raines logged top-10s in the two 1998 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events at PIR and 10th in the 2004 NASCAR Busch Series race.
With a little momentum on their side, Raines and the DLP HDTV team are hoping to continue to heat up as they head to the mile-long "Jewel in the Desert."
TONY RAINES (Driver, No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet):
What are your overall thoughts heading into Phoenix?
"I like the track and the area. I've always seemed to run pretty decent there. It's a unique track, but I like it a lot. We had a pretty good car there in the spring race last year, but sometimes that doesn't mean anything. Short tracks have probably been better tracks for us overall. We'll just try to qualify well and see if we can't improve on that finish from the spring."
What does it take to run well at Phoenix?
"It takes a good car and being smooth and hitting your marks. You've just got to be really consistent and stay out of trouble."
How important is it to start up front at Phoenix?
"I don't know if it's any more or less important than anywhere else. I think if we could qualify in the top-15, that'd go a long way toward helping us race in the top-15."
Texas was another busy weekend for you. Are you looking forward to a little less hectic of a weekend at Phoenix?
"It was a fun week -- a tiring week, but a fun week. It's always fun to go to Texas and see everyone with DLP and Texas Instruments. You're kind of worn out after the weekend, but in a good way. I think we could have finished a little higher than we did, but 13th was a good, solid effort for everyone. Phoenix will be a little less hectic on the PR and hospitality side. But I'm running the Busch race for (Kevin) Harvick's team, so it will be a busy weekend on the racing side."
What do you think about going to Phoenix with the new Car of Tomorrow (COT), the Chevrolet Impala SS?
"I think Phoenix is going to be a really good first test for the DLP Impala SS on a bigger track. It's a little over a mile and Phoenix is a unique case unto itself. I think it's going to show what you can and can't do with (the car). I've tested it at Richmond, and Richmond and Phoenix are pretty similar. So we'll see what happens."
Is the COT going to equalize the difference between the big and the small teams?
"I don't know. So far it hasn't. We had pretty good cars at both races, but didn't get the finish we were looking for. The Richmond test went fair. There definitely is a smaller window for everybody."
How do you feel the year has gone so far?
"I think we're about where we thought we'd be, other than the wreck in Daytona, which put us back a bit. We've been a little faster everywhere and we've raced a little better. The potential's there. We haven't seen the results that we're capable of yet, although we ran well at Texas last week. We need to improve more. We need to improve every week because everyone else is improving, too."