Loudon: Tony Raines preview

TONY RAINES, DLP HDTV TEAM, NEW TEAM AT NEW HAMPSHIRE CORNELIUS, N.C., Tuesday, July 11, 2006 -- One of the most interesting (and hardest) parts about being a brand new NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series team is that for the first half of the season the...

TONY RAINES, DLP HDTV TEAM, NEW TEAM AT NEW HAMPSHIRE

CORNELIUS, N.C., Tuesday, July 11, 2006 -- One of the most interesting (and hardest) parts about being a brand new NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series team is that for the first half of the season the tracks are all new. The driver, crew chief and most members of the crew have all been to the tracks before, but never as a collective unit.

So, when the team pulls in on Friday, the notebook is basically empty.

Tony Raines and the No. 96 DLP HDTV team will look to fill that notebook with good information and leave the 1-mile New Hampshire International Speedway with a good run.

TONY RAINES (No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy):

Overall thoughts heading into New Hampshire:

"It's a nice place to visit. The track's alright. 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 had a pretty good qualifying run at Martinsville and a pretty good race car during the race, so I'm hoping some of that will translate and we'll have a pretty good package under the car so that it will turn well in the tight corners. 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."

The team had a tough week last week at Chicagoland. Does testing at Indy and getting back in the car right away help?

"It may help out. We really just want to put that behind us. I'd like to forget we were ever there. It was a tough deal. We struggled some in practice and qualifying and made some changes to it on race morning and somewhere along the line we just didn't help ourselves. It was a tough day and you're going to have those every once in a while in racing. It was especially tough because it was sort of a hometown race for myself, but that's going happen. If it were easy, everybody would be doing it. We just have to make sure that we don't make those mistakes again."

New Hampshire is another track where you're not allowed to test under the new testing rules. Even though the season is half over, you're still going to a track that the team hasn't been to before. Is that getting frustrating?

"It's somewhat frustrating. I guess what gets me is that I've been to these racetracks in other vehicles and raced well and you think you'd be able to get there and just hit the ground running, but it's just that the competition is so tough. Every little advantage the other teams have on us is going to show up on the front side. So, we just have to work harder and smarter to close that gap as quickly as possible."

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."

What are you thoughts on Juan Pablo Montoya coming to NASCAR?

"I have two thoughts on that. One thought is, I think it's way, way out there. Not too many people have had a lot of luck changing over like that. But on the other hand, if he does it, he may prove that he is one of the greatest drivers of all time. So, it will be interesting to watch."

-hofr

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya