TONY RAINES, DLP HDTV TEAM: "FINALLY, BACK TO A TRACK WE'VE BEEN TO!" CORNELIUS, N.C., Tuesday, July 18, 2006 -- For the first time in 2006, Tony Raines and the DLP HDTV team will be returning to a track where they've raced before. Pocono...
TONY RAINES, DLP HDTV TEAM: "FINALLY, BACK TO A TRACK WE'VE BEEN TO!"
CORNELIUS, N.C., Tuesday, July 18, 2006 -- For the first time in 2006, Tony Raines and the DLP HDTV team will be returning to a track where they've raced before.
Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, home to this Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race, is where Raines recorded his best finish so far this season -- a 16th place result just six weeks ago when the series stopped at Pocono for its first visit to the 2.5-mile triangle.
But about Daytona, you ask? Didn't the series just return there for the Pepsi 400?
Remember, NASCAR veteran Terry Labonte drove the first five races of the season for the DLP team, so when Raines took the wheel for the Pepsi 400 in July, it was his first start at Daytona in the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy.
NASCAR allows teams to test at only six tracks that are used for Nextel Cup events: Daytona, Las Vegas, Richmond (Va.), Charlotte (N.C.), Indianapolis and Homestead (Fla.). If you are a new team like the No. 96 DLP HDTV team, actual on-track experience at racetracks is invaluable.
Forgive Raines, crew chief Philippe Lopez and the entire DLP team if they have a little hop in their step heading back to Pocono for the Pennsylvania 500. They've actually been there before as a team. And with a notebook full of their own information, they'll look to improve their effort from just six weeks ago.
TONY RAINES (No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy):
What are your overall thoughts heading into Pocono?
"Well, I'm looking forward to it. It's been my best finish so far this year. We had a good car there. We're bringing a different car, but we feel it's got a better aero-body on it. We're finally going back to some places where we've been before, so we'll have a little bit of an idea where we want to start each week -- hopefully more of an idea. I'm kind of anxious to get that second string started."
You tested last week at Indianapolis and you raced at Pocono in June. The Allstate 400 at the Brickyard is in a couple of weeks. Do you feel good going to two consecutive tracks where you've been on-track before either racing or testing?
"It'll help us because we tested at Indy and we've run at Pocono, so I'm hoping that we'll have a good stretch of tracks -- a good stretch of races coming up."
Describe a lap at Pocono.
"It's got a long frontstretch. The tunnel turn is kind of exciting, because you've got a real 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."
How much of a test session is Pocono in relation to running at Indianapolis? Both have long straight-aways and flat corners. Is there some carryover from one track to the next?
"There may be a little bit, but Pocono is laid out so different than Indy. I don't know that you can directly apply what you've learned, but Pocono's a good warm-up for Indy because you have that long straightaway. It's a real fast track with long turns, so it gets you ready for Indy if nothing else."
What do you plan on doing during the off-week after Pocono?
"I haven't gotten that far yet. I may just sit around the house and watch the grass grow."