Richmond: Tony Raines preview

Going To Richmond With A Little Help From My (Shrek) Friends CORNELIUS, N.C., (May 1, 2007) -- In each NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race that Tony Raines competes, he knows he has a few people "on-board" supporting him. There is Brandon Thomas, the...

Going To Richmond With A Little Help From My (Shrek) Friends

CORNELIUS, N.C., (May 1, 2007) -- In each NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race that Tony Raines competes, he knows he has a few people "on-board" supporting him. There is Brandon Thomas, the crew chief, as well as all the owners and employees of Hall of Fame Racing.

There are the employees of DLP products and Texas Instruments, as well as Raines' fans.

But heading into the Crown Royal Presents The Jim Stewart 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway on Saturday night, Raines will have a rather odd supporting cast.

Shrek and Donkey.

That's right, Shrek and Donkey, along with Princess Fiona, Pinocchio and Puss In Boots will all be on board Raines' No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet Impala SS during the 400-lap race at Richmond.

While they won't be riding in the cockpit with Raines, the characters will be featured throughout the purple paint scheme that is celebrating the May 18 release of Shrek the Third.

Raines is hoping that he can show Shrek and the gang how well the DLP team has competed with NASCAR's new Car of Tomorrow (COT).

After finishing 24th with the COT in the car's debut race in March at Bristol (Tenn.), Raines has finished in the top-20 in the last two COT races. He finished 14th two weeks ago at Phoenix with the COT and saw a potential top-10 finish evaporate when he was punted into the turn one wall by Juan Pablo Montoya late in the race at Martinsville, where he managed to finish 20th.

So get on board Shrek, Donkey and the rest of the gang. Raines is looking to show you the way to Victory Lane on Saturday night in a land not so far, far away.

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

What are your 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."

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 are 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 race track, which I think makes it some of the drivers' favorites. That translates into a good race for the fans."

Do you like racing 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."

What are your thoughts on bringing the Car of Tomorrow to Richmond?

"I think it will be similar to Phoenix. I think it will be a tight, competitive field during practice and qualifying. Hopefully we can have a solid weekend. It's an impound race, so that's a little bit of a twist compared to the other three (COT races), but we'll see what we can come up with."

The DLP HDTV team has had a little bit of success at all three COT races. What do you attribute that to?

"It's just hard work. Brandon (Thomas, crew chief) and the engineering guys have been working really hard at trying to sort it out. We've got room to improve, for sure, but we've just got a good grasp of it. Not that we're the best at it or have it totally figured out, but we're able to adjust the car and we've made it pretty good when we unload it. That, and the window is a little smaller. There is only so much you can do. Obviously, the Hendrick teams have it sorted out pretty darn good. We've got to catch up to them."

Do you like driving the Car of Tomorrow?

"It's OK. It doesn't drive great. But to quote Jeff Burton, if mine drives better than everyone else's, that's okay."

What do you think about having Shrek on the car this week?

"I really liked the first two movies. Sue (wife) and Leland (son) enjoy watching the Shrek movies. We're excited to see the third one as well."

-credit: hofr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Hall of Fame Racing