TONY RAINES The "Primary" Goal in New Hampshire? Victory Lane CORNELIUS, N.C., (June 27, 2007) -- New Hampshire has long been known as one of the most important states for presidential hopefuls to make their mark in the primaries heading into...
The "Primary" Goal in New Hampshire? Victory Lane
CORNELIUS, N.C., (June 27, 2007) -- New Hampshire has long been known as one of the most important states for presidential hopefuls to make their mark in the primaries heading into the general election in the fall.
The wide-open 2008 presidential field made up of, among others, Clinton, Obama and Edwards of the Democratic Party and Giuliani, Romney and McCain of the Republican Party, will be focused on New Hampshire in the coming weeks and months. So, too, will be another "candidate."
Not a candidate for president, mind you, but rather a candidate for the exclusive "NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Winners Club."
Raines, along with the DLP HDTV team, head to New Hampshire looking for their first win in this weekend's Lennox Industrial Tools 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon.
If there has been a strong suit for the DLP HDTV team in 2007, it has been at the smaller tracks that feature NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow (COT). Although the results might not be overwhelming (three top-20 finishes, including two in the top-15), the team has shown modest successes in the COT races, including running up front and challenging for the lead during the May race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
So while Tony Raines might not be a household name in New Hampshire -- consider him an underdog compared to the likes of Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- keep in mind that a guy named Bill Clinton didn't win in the 1992 New Hampshire primary, but his strong showing raised his profile and months later he won the ultimate prize as he was elected the 42nd President of the United States.
Heck, Tony Raines and the DLP HDTV team don't want to become leaders of the free world (well, maybe the leaders in the HDTV world), they just want a Nextel Cup victory.
A strong showing in New Hampshire, like Clinton's in 1992, could be key to reaching that goal.
TONY RAINES (Driver, No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet):
The DLP HDTV team has had success with the COT. What are your thoughts on taking the COT to New Hampshire?
"I'm hopeful that trend will continue. I've been really fast in qualifying and practice a couple of times and I'm hopeful that we are again. I'm looking to capitalize on that. We qualified 11th at Martinsville, and New Hampshire is similar to Martinsville. I'm hoping to do better than that, but it is a different track, so you never know. I feel like we should be a top-10 team."
The DLP HDTV team tested at Milwaukee a few weeks ago. How did that test go?
"I felt like we had a decent test. We were working on our package for Loudon. Obviously, it's not Loudon, but the package we thought we needed to come with we kind of ironed out, so we're hoping that we're in the ballpark. We're hopeful that it is."
How eager are you to compete this week after sitting out last week and watching Ron Fellows drive the No. 96 DLP HDTV at Sonoma?
"It's hard to sit out. Even though I'm on board with the team, it's just tough to sit out. It's a hard thing to do."
Do you like New Hampshire?
"It's a nice place to visit. The track's all right. It's a little like Martinsville. It's a little tough to race on. It's got long straightaways and tight corners. They've done a lot to the groove and the surface over the last couple of years, so they've certainly done everything they could to help promote racing. In that case, it's a good thing. We have to have good brakes because that track is capable of being hard on the brakes since it's got such long straightaways. The Gibbs motors will run pretty good there, so we'll see how we pan out."
What does it take to have a good lap at New Hampshire?
"You want to get into the corner at a good clip, but you want to get a real smooth entry with the car to where it's rolling real free through the center without flipping the tires in the back or starting to shove the nose. Grip there is really key in getting through the center of the turn and onto the straightaway. You want to be able to pick up the gas early and smooth and have the car really pick up a lot of speed without scrubbing either end. That seems to be the key to going fast. Getting through the center freely is worth a lot."
Do you like the New Hampshire area?
"Yeah, it's nice. I like that type of area -- lots of woods and good, hard-working people. I certainly enjoy going up there. Hopefully we'll have a good weekend."