Indianapolis: Tony Raines preview

2007 Summer Homecoming Tour Presented By DLP HDTV -- Part III CORNELIUS, N.C., -- Tony Raines claims LaPorte, Ind., as his hometown. You can't blame him as he did spend the majority of his youth in LaPorte and graduated from LaPorte High School...

2007 Summer Homecoming Tour Presented By DLP HDTV -- Part III

CORNELIUS, N.C., -- Tony Raines claims LaPorte, Ind., as his hometown. You can't blame him as he did spend the majority of his youth in LaPorte and graduated from LaPorte High School in 1982.

However, he had a few other stops before LaPorte and a few since then, as well. Raines' late father was in the Air Force, so Tony was born in Glasgow, Mont., before moving to Greece and then Pendleton, Ind. The family moved to Walkerton, Ind., before settling in LaPorte for much of Raines' teenage years. Since then, he's lived in Elkhart, Ind., Milwaukee, parts of Pennsylvania and ultimately Mount Pleasant, N.C.

So forgive Raines if he's got more than a few "hometowns." While last week's race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., was just 90 minutes from his "hometown" of La Porte, the July 29 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard is another "hometown" race for Raines. In fact, it's Part III of the four-part 2007 Tony Raines Summer Homecoming Tour Presented by DLP HDTV.

During his youth, before he was even a teenager, Raines lived in Pendleton, Ind., just 30 minutes from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. So the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard is certainly a homecoming for him in some respects. While he never attended the Indianapolis 500 as a boy, he certainly has a fondness for the 2.5-mile oval. He understands the history of the place and likes nothing more than to run well there.

Last year Indianapolis proved to be one of the better races for Raines and the DLP HDTV team. They started 13th and finished 11th. This year, Raines is hoping to gain a few more spots -- and make it a homecoming to remember.

Local flavor: While Hall of Fame Racing is certainly dominated by Texas ties -- managing partner Bill Saunders is a Dallas native and co-partners Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach quarterbacked the Dallas Cowboys to five collective Super Bowl victories -- the team has a sprinkle of the Hoosier state. Raines graduated from high school in La Porte, but spent his youth in Pendleton. His spotter, Terry Wooten, lives in Muncie and graduated from South Side High School. Dave Duncan, sponsorship marketing manager, DLP Products, is a native of West Lafayette. Duncan graduated from Harrison High School before getting a degree in industrial engineering from Purdue. Tom Engibous, chairman of Texas Instruments, earned a bachelors and a master's degree in electrical engineering from Purdue and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the university in 1997. Engibous and Duncan both will attend the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

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

Overall thoughts heading into the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard:

"It's got to be right up there with the Daytona 500. For me, it's probably got more sentimental value -- just being from Indiana and it being such an old race track. It's older than the race track in Daytona. It's a huge event to be part of, and we want to run well. Who doesn't like to go to Indy and race?"

Last year, Indianapolis was one of the better races for the DLP HDTV team. Can you talk about that?

"It was a good day for us. We started 13th and finished 11th. We kind of missed the big wreck at the end -- we hit a piece of tungsten, which tore up the bottom of the car -- but we managed to get the car all the way around at the end and finished 11th. Any time you can run well at Indianapolis, it's a good feeling. Hopefully, we can do it again this year."

You were born in Montana, moved to Pendleton and then attended high school in LaPorte, correct?

"Yeah, I lived in Pendleton until I was 13. I was born in Montana. My dad was in the service and then got out. We left Montana when I was 2 and my sister was born in Greece after that, so I'm thinking that when we got to Indiana, I was probably 3 or 4 years old. We lived in Pendleton and then moved to northern Indiana."

Did you ever attend the Indianapolis 500 as a kid?

"No. Never went there until I went on the track in my race car. It was a test in 1998 and that was the first time I had ever been there. It was cool. To think that they've been running races there since 1909 and now getting out there and competing on that same track, it's pretty cool. Plus, they've got a really cool golf course there. I've golfed there several times. It's a nice course."

Can you describe a lap around Indianapolis?

"It's flat and getting around there well takes a nice rhythm. You have to be smooth and carry a lot of momentum through the corners. The straightaways are so long, so you have a lot of time looking at Turns 1 and 3, you know, getting ready for it. It's just a fun racetrack to drive and it's a challenge. And, you get a great crowd there."

Which of the three tracks -- Chicagoland, Indianapolis or Michigan -- do you consider your home track?

"You know, I don't know if the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is my home track. But I do think out of all the race tracks I run up in the Midwest, I get up the most for Indy because I enjoy driving it. It's a tough track and there is a ton of history at Indy. When I go there, I'm more psyched up than a lot of places. Not that I don't get psyched up everywhere, but there's something about Indy. It's like playing golf at Augusta. It's just the place to be."

-credit: hofr

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Raines
Teams Hall of Fame Racing