TONY RAINES, DLP HDTV TEAM: TRYING TO REVERSE THINGS AT RICHMOND CORNELIUS, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2006 -- Tony Raines and the DLP HDTV team roll in to Richmond, Va., this weekend for the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series event...
TONY RAINES, DLP HDTV TEAM: TRYING TO REVERSE THINGS AT RICHMOND
CORNELIUS, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2006 -- Tony Raines and the DLP HDTV team roll in to Richmond, Va., this weekend for the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series event at Richmond International Raceway.
Raines and the team head to Richmond hoping to reverse their fortune after struggling in the last few races and not being as competitive as they'd like.
Richmond isn't a bad place to turn things around considering Raines has had some success there, notching four top-10 finishes in NASCAR Busch Series competition, including a second-place effort in May 2001.
TONY RAINES (No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy):
Overall thoughts heading into Richmond?
"I've enjoyed racing at Richmond over the years. We've had some great races there at various levels. It's one of my favorite tracks. We had a pretty decent car there in the spring, but we had some brake troubles. Brake troubles aside, hopefully, we can get back to where we were, and hopefully have a good weekend and get out of this funk we're in."
Since Indianapolis, the team has struggled a little bit. How hard is it to have a tough month like the DLP team is having?
"It's tough. You work really hard and sometimes you just can't get anything accomplished. You don't have anything to show for it. It's frustrating, but there are reasons for it. Sometimes you just have to work extra hard to find them and adjust them. Sometimes you do everything right, and the racing luck just goes against you. I think we might have a little bit of that bad luck and just being in a slump. Everybody is working hard to get it stopped and going the other way."
What makes Richmond such a good track?
"I think it's got characteristics of a short-track, combined with some bigger-track speed, along with the fact that there is typically two grooves there. If the car isn't quite set up right, you can move to a second groove or move around a little bit. There's a little bit of flexibility in the racetrack, which I think makes it some of the drivers' favorites. That translates into a good race for the fans."
Do you like driving at night?
"I think driving at night is fun because it's typically better for the driver. The temperature of the track is more consistent, you don't have the sun beating down on the track. The car runs better because it's cooler, the brakes are cooler, the tires are happier, everything just seems to go along with racing a little bit easier. Most of the time it's a little bit more comfortable for the fans, because they aren't sitting in the boiling sun. At night, watching the race, the lights and the flashes, it just makes it look more spectacular."
Several drivers will be trying to earn a spot in the "Chase for the Nextel Cup" this week at Richmond. Not being involved in that, how do you race the other drivers? Do you treat it as a normal race or do you look out for the guys who are trying to get in the chase?
"You try to ignore it, in a way. You want to race guys the way you've been racing them all year. You want to race them hard, but race them clean. I'm sure there are a few of those guys who might be looking for a little help. You're probably not going to race them any different than you normally do. If they are running good, you'll give them plenty of room and if you can pass them because you're faster than they are, then you're going to pass them. Every spot counts for everybody. Points are so valuable, so you approach it as any other race."
The NFL season starts this week and despite Hall of Fame Racing being co-owned by two former Cowboys quarterbacks (Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach) and getting cars, engines and technical support from Joe Gibbs Racing, owned by Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, you've maintained that you are a Minnesota Vikings fan. Any predictions for 2006?
"I'm not going to predict anything, although it was interesting to see that they tied with the Cowboys (10-10 on 8/31). It was a draw. We'll see. You know, when you're busy racing, you kind of miss the first six or seven weeks of the season and then you kind of pick it up. You really don't know what's going on until the end of November, then you kind of see where everybody is at."
Has there been any pressure to change your affiliation to the Cowboys?
"Well, if there has been any pressure, it's been very subtle. I think they're working on a subliminal Cowboy message. We'll see if it works."