TONY RAINES, DLP HDTV TEAM, MICHIGAN NOTES AND QUOTES\n CORNELIUS, N.C., Tuesday, June 13, 2006 -- Tony Raines grew up in La Porte, Ind., just 150 miles from Michigan International Speedway. As he got older, Raines did plenty of racing at...
TONY RAINES, DLP HDTV TEAM, MICHIGAN NOTES AND QUOTES\n
CORNELIUS, N.C., Tuesday, June 13, 2006 -- Tony Raines grew up in La Porte, Ind., just 150 miles from Michigan International Speedway.
As he got older, Raines did plenty of racing at small tracks around the state of Michigan, often passing Michigan International Speedway to get there.
This week, however, he'll pull into the tunnel at the famous 2-mile oval and compete in his fifth Nextel Cup event at MIS. But this start, unlike the previous four, comes with solid new team in Hall of Fame Racing and a full-time sponsor in DLP HDTV.
The team heads into Michigan with a little momentum, coming off a 16th-place finish at Pocono. The finish was the best ever for Hall of Fame Racing in its brief 14-race history.
TONY RAINES (No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy):
Overall thoughts heading into historic Michigan International Speedway?
"We've had a couple of good runs there in the past, so I think it's a track I can be comfortable at. I'm sure with a different tire, we'll have different challenges when we get there. It's a big, wide track, similar to California, but with a little more banking. Hopefully we can use what we learn this week when we come back to Michigan in August and then at the second California race. I'm looking forward to getting there and having a good run."
Your hometown of LaPorte, Ind., is about 150 miles away from MIS. Is this sort of 'home' race for you?
"Yeah, sort of. It's probably the closest other than Indy or Chicagoland. We'll be close to a lot of friends and relatives, so that's pretty neat. It's the first racetrack I ever went to as a fan to watch a Cup race, back in the mid 1980s. So it was kind of neat to be there then and even more neat and more fun to get out there and compete on the race track."
What do you remember about that first race you attended at Michigan?
"I was in the grandstands, and I don't think I was even 21 yet. I just remember the cars, the quality of cars and sponsors, the paint jobs, the crowd. It was just a real exciting event. I remember Rusty (Wallace) leaving pit road, they didn't have pit road speed then, and he'd just hit the chip on every gear on the way off pit road. He got on and off pit road better than anybody else. That stuck out as the most memorable thing.
You did a lot of racing around Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin when you where coming up through ASA. What do you remember about those days?
"I drove by that track (MIS) many times on my way to another track to race. I ran an ASA race at Michigan in the mid 1990s. I think I've probably got as many laps there as I do anywhere else, so hopefully we can unload pretty strong and work on it and get better at it as we go along."
What were some of the surrounding tracks you raced at?
"There were a lot of them. Berlin, Kalamazoo, Motteville and Toledo, were a few. There's a lot of good racing and a lot of good race car drivers around that area."
What's your favorite Michigan short-track 'coming through the ranks' story?
"I don't know. I just remember Berlin being a fun track to race at. It was such a unique track. There's been good drivers that have gone to Berlin and haven't been able to figure it out. It's just a tough, tough track. Once you figure it out though, it's fun."
Do you have any family and friends coming to the race at Michigan?
"I'm sure there are people coming. I haven't looked at the guest list, but I'm sure it's pretty full."
Do you like racing at Michigan?
"Yeah, I like it. I like Turn 3 and 4 a lot better than I like Turns 1 and 2. It's smooth. It's a momentum track, so the smoother you are, the better it pays off for you."