Last Call -- One More Before We Hit the Road CORNELIUS, N.C. (Nov. 13, 2007) -- For anyone who participates in the marathon 38-race NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season (don't forget the two exhibition races in addition to the 36 point-paying races),...
Last Call -- One More Before We Hit the Road
CORNELIUS, N.C. (Nov. 13, 2007) -- For anyone who participates in the marathon 38-race NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series season (don't forget the two exhibition races in addition to the 36 point-paying races), the words "last race of the year at Homestead" rank right up there with a nine-year-old hearing "I think Santa just showed up."
Yes, it's an exciting time as the Nextel Cup Series rolls into Homestead-Miami Speedway for this weekend's Ford 400, the final race for the 2007 season. But, as the season comes to a close, much like a school year ending, there is a bit of nostalgia.
Tony Raines will drive his final race in the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet for Hall of Fame Racing this weekend. His 63rd and final start in the DLP car will wrap up two years of work getting Hall of Fame Racing up and running -- despite the odds that were stacked against him and the team.
Rare is it that a new team comes into NASCAR without someone saying, "They won't last. It's too tough."
Hall of Fame Racing lasted, excelled and will be around for years to come -- thanks to the hard work of many, including Raines.
He was the ultimate team player as he split time in 2006 with Terry Labonte and sat out two races in 2007 so Ron Fellows could drive the road-course races at Sonoma, Calif., and Watkins Glen, N.Y. It was all for the good of team as the No. 96 DLP Chevy finished solidly in the top-35 in owner points in 2006 and will do so again in 2007.
Raines' effort helped build a solid foundation for Hall of Fame cing and Ranew driver J.J. Yeley for 2008 and beyond.
TONY RAINES (Driver, No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet):
What is it going to take to have a good run at Homestead?
"It's a tricky track. We ended up working on the car pretty hard last November and ended up getting it pretty decent, so if we start from there, we'll have our work cut out for us. It was hard on us last year up until mid-race, so we're going to have to work on it, that's for sure."
This is the last race with the old type of car. What are your thoughts on that?
"It's kind of like Homestead a few years ago, when it was the last race for Winston as the series sponsor. I thought that was kind of big, because NASCAR was transitioning from one sponsor to another. It was a pretty big race. This will kind of be the same way, because it's the last race for this type of car."
This is your last race as driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet for Hall of Fame Racing. How important is it for you to finish out strong?
"It would be nice to go out on a high note. If we don't, it's certainly not going to tarnish what we've done in two years. We've certainly tried hard. This was a new team two years ago with a lot of new employees. A lot has happened and they've got a bright future down the road. I'm proud of the fact that the thing got up and going and didn't fail. I think a lot of people thought it might fail, like a lot of new teams do. Hopefully, they'll continue that success and have even more."
Is it going to be tough to say goodbye to everyone?
"It won't be, because I think I've got some friends there that will be friends down the road. You're not really saying goodbye. We're just not working together anymore. We'll see each other down the road, though."
Do you have a favorite memory of the past few years?
"They're all pretty good memories, to be honest. We had some tough races, but we had some really good races, too. Probably didn't have enough or as many as we'd have liked. The highlight was probably Charlotte last fall. We had a really fast car and really ran well. I wish we would have had more days like that. That said, we weren't flashy, we weren't brilliant, but we were solid. The way I look at it, we built a solid foundation so good things can happen in the future."
Can you talk about what it was like to represent DLP for the last two years?
"I certainly enjoyed working with DLP. They're a great company with great products, great people and a great vision of where they want to go. A lot of racers don't get to have an opportunity to partner with a sponsor that not only gives great financial support, but also has great people supporting the effort. I enjoyed representing them for two years and hope they have a lot of success in the future."