TONY RAINES, DLP HDTV TEAM: CALIFORNIA, LATE PASSES, SUN & COLLEGE FOOTBALL CORNELIUS, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2006 -- Tony Raines and the DLP HDTV team head to the West Coast this weekend for the California 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at...
TONY RAINES, DLP HDTV TEAM: CALIFORNIA, LATE PASSES, SUN & COLLEGE FOOTBALL
CORNELIUS, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2006 -- Tony Raines and the DLP HDTV team head to the West Coast this weekend for the California 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at California Speedway in Fontana.
Raines and the DLP team hope to continue their improvement throughout the final part of the season, similar to the way they've been improving in the last part of each race.
Or more specifically, the last 10 percent of each race.
Raines is tied for second in the "Closers" category of NASCAR's Loop Data statistics, which charts the most positions moved up by a driver in the last 10 percent of the race.
Raines, who is tied for second with Kevin Harvick, has gained a total of 37 spots in the last part of the 17 races he has competed in this season. Consider, however, that Raines turned over the driving duties to Terry Labonte for seven races this season, while leader Casey Mears (52 positions moved up) has competed in all 24 events.
TONY RAINES (No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy):
Terry Labonte drove the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy in February at California. Having not competed there, does that hurt you in any way?
"I don't feel that we're going in blind. I didn't drive there, Terry did and we didn't run that well. We struggled a little bit. But I think coming off of the last three or four races that we've run, I feel we'll have as good a shot as anybody. I think we'll be quicker to adapt to the car. If it's not quite right when we unload, we can get it zeroed in rather quickly."
Can you describe a lap around California?
"The frontstretch has a slight curve to it and Turn 1 is one of the faster turns that you enter. You're going a little more than 200 mph. Coming down the banking it flattens out in the center a little bit, which makes the car not want to turn, and then it flattens out again as you exit the turn. The backstretch is pretty straight. Then Turns 3 and 4 have a tight entry but then it's got a long center and a long exit. So, it's kind of fun to drive that end. The car is on the edge the whole way through there. You have to carry it sometimes. It might be a little tight or a little loose at anytime. It's certainly an exciting turn to drive. It's not quite as fast as 1 and 2, but it's fast enough."
A lot of people say Michigan and California are identical tracks. Are they really that similar?
"You know, it's funny, they're similar, but they are really two different racetracks setup-wise. I think what works there will definelty slide over to Michigan, but it's hard to tell exactly what will work. The night race at California makes it quite a bit different."
How do you deal with the sun setting in the early part of the race?
"You can wear a tear-off on your visor to get through the start. That sun goes down there pretty fast, so it's not too bad of a deal. It will go away pretty quick."
Do you enjoy going to California?
"It's okay. It's not one of my favorite tracks, but it's OK. It's plenty wide enough to race on."
You are tied for second in most positions gained in the last 10 percent of the race. What are you thoughts on that?
"I think it's a credit to us working on the car. You know, our strategy this year has been to stay out of trouble and get to the end and then race for spots. In that respect, it's representing our strategy. What I'd like to do is lead some laps, get a really good qualifying effort where we can run up front and have a higher finish without having to work so hard in the last 50 or 100 laps."
This weekend marks the start of college football season. Troy Aikman (co-owner of Hall of Fame Racing) played two years at UCLA and Roger Staubach (co-owner of Hall of Fame Racing) won the Heisman Trophy at Navy in 1963. Do you watch college football?
"I watch it somewhat. Probably more so later in the year when there are big games going on -- rivalry games. When we're racing, it's hard to watch a lot of football games. But when time permits, I try to watch them."
Do you have a favorite college football team?
Southern California) quite a bit."
You realize that Aikman played for arch-rival UCLA, don't you?
"Well, I seem to be bucking the system in all aspects, college and pro. I grew up a Minnesota Vikings fan, not a Cowboys fan. I never was much of a UCLA football fan -- I liked watching them in basketball though."
Does Aikman know that?
"Probably not. He may know it shortly though."