TONY RAINES, DLP HDTV TEAM: BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA CORNELIUS, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2006 -- NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Tony Raines lists La Porte, Ind., as his hometown. However, few realize that he actually grew up in the shadow of...
TONY RAINES, DLP HDTV TEAM: BACK HOME AGAIN IN INDIANA
CORNELIUS, N.C., Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2006 -- NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Tony Raines lists La Porte, Ind., as his hometown. However, few realize that he actually grew up in the shadow of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. As a young man, his family lived in nearby Pendleton, Ind., just 36 miles from IMS.
Remarkably, Raines never saw the historic 2.5-mile oval until a test session in the late 1990s, and has only raced in the Brickyard 400 twice, in 2003 and 2004.
In the 2004 event, he competed with Bill Davis Racing and finished 30th. His crew chief for that race? Philippe Lopez, his current crew chief on the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet fielded by Hall of Fame Racing.
Reunited for this weekend's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, Raines and Lopez plan a strong effort for the DLP HDTV team, as Raines is "Back Home Again in Indiana."
TONY RAINES (No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy):
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 racetrack. It's older than the racetrack in Daytona. It's a huge event to be part of, and we want to run well. We had a decent test at Indy, and really, who doesn't like to go to Indy and race?"
You were born in Montana, moved to Pendleton and then attended high school in La Porte, 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 two and my sister was born in Greece after that, so I'm thinking that when we got to Indiana, I was probably three or four 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."
You and Philippe Lopez worked together there in 2004 with Bill Davis Racing. Can you talk about that?
"I remember we had a really good car. We didn't qualify great, but we took the green flag and were moving up pretty quick. That was the year everyone had trouble with the left-front (tires) and we, unfortunately, fell victim to that. We probably had a top-10 car speed-wise, but we ended up having three flats total and the second flat tore the fender all up. It ended up being a long day."
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."
Troy Aikman, co-owner of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy, is being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on the day before the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Talk about that.
"Obviously, that's a highlight of his career. I can't speak for him, because I'm not in that position, but I can imagine that having a successful playing career and then having it topped off by getting in the Hall of Fame has got to make him feel that it was worth all the effort. I'm sure he'll take a lot of pride in it. I know we're going to try to watch the ceremony on our DLP HDTV."