Pocono II: Tony Raines preview

TONY RAINES Rushing Into Pocono CORNELIUS, N.C., (Aug. 1, 2007) -- Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., has three turns. And, beginning Aug. 10, with the release of Rush Hour 3, there will be a total of three Rush Hour movies starring Chris...

Rushing Into Pocono

CORNELIUS, N.C., (Aug. 1, 2007) -- Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa., has three turns.

And, beginning Aug. 10, with the release of Rush Hour 3, there will be a total of three Rush Hour movies starring Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan, with Brett Ratner having directed all three.

Yes, that stretch of a connection between three turns at Pocono and three Rush Hour movies is the segue into letting the world know that New Line Cinema's action comedy Rush Hour 3 will be featured on the hood of Tony Raines' No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet for Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Pocono.

Tucker and Ratner are scheduled to be in attendance for the 200-lap event and Raines hopes that he and the DLP HDTV team can continue to improve as the season continues into the dog days of summer.

Raines and crew chief Brandon Thomas head into Pocono will plenty of optimism after small gains at the last two Nextel Cup races at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., and the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

At Chicagoland, Raines and Company rallied from the 40th starting spot to finish 24th, while they equaled their best qualifying effort of the season by starting 11th at Indianapolis.

While the statistics aren't earth-shattering, small gains have been made. And with Tucker and Ratner in attendance, Raines and the DLP HDTV team hope to "rush" into Victory Lane.

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

Overall thoughts heading into Pocono:

"I'm optimistic. I'm encouraged because we've kind of started coming at this animal from a different direction at Chicago. We had a decent car in the race at Chicago, we qualified okay at Indy and we had qualified well in the June race at Pocono. I feel like at our last two races (Chicago and Indy) we've had more speed in the race and the potential to have more speed. We've been trying some different things and I'm encouraged that we'll have a little bit more to work with at Pocono. I like the track. We had a couple of good runs there last year and we qualified well in the spring. That said, a lot of times the track is different the second time around. Brandon (Thomas, crew chief) and everybody on the DLP team is working really hard. And the engineering staff has really been trying to dissect everything, so I'm pretty hopeful."

You said that the two Pocono races are different. What is different about them?

"It just seems like the heat plays differently on the racetrack. The first race, the weather wasn't too bad, except for all the rain. Once the rain passed, the weather was pretty decent. The second race, it seems like the track has had a little bit more time to sit in the sun and it gets beaten up a little bit more. It's just a little bit different handling-wise. It's the same race track. The weather just has a little bit more of an effect on it."

Did you learn anything from Indianapolis that will help you at Pocono?

"I think so. The big, flat tracks tend to have similar characteristics -- maybe not identical, but similar. So, we'll probably be working off the same package, or within the same circle as Indy. That could be a plus. It was a brand new car (at Indy) and the body was one of the best we'd had in a while. We can replace that, but it's a hard one to swallow having destroyed it in such a short time."

Pocono is pretty unique. What makes it that way?

"It looks from the air like it has only three turns, but it's really got five turns in it. Or four to five, however you count it. Everybody knows it's different. It's a lot like Nazareth (Speedway, in Pennsylvania), only bigger.

How do you approach a weekend at a track were every turn is completely different?

"You can't get the car completely perfect. You can only work on it so much because you can't get it completely right, although you'd like to. You pick certain areas to work on. You gain your most speed off the final turn going onto the long straightaway at the front, so that's what we'll concentrate a lot of time on."

Describe a lap at Pocono.

"It's got a long front stretch. The tunnel turn is kind of exciting because you've got a really sharp entry with a long exit. And then turn three is really flat, but it takes you around 52 to 53 seconds to get there and get back. It's a neat track to drive, for sure."

-credit: hofr

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Raines