TONY RAINES Texas -- Home of DLP Headquarters; So Yeah, It's Kind of Important CORNELIUS, N.C. (Oct. 31, 2007) -- Most NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers will tell you that it doesn't matter where the race is. They just want to be in victory...
Texas -- Home of DLP Headquarters; So Yeah, It's Kind of Important
CORNELIUS, N.C. (Oct. 31, 2007) -- Most NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers will tell you that it doesn't matter where the race is. They just want to be in victory lane when it's all said and done.
That said, there are several races on the NASCAR circuit that are a little more prestigious: the Daytona 500, the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard (Indianapolis), the Coca-Cola 600 (Charlotte, N.C.) and the Sharpie 500 (Bristol, Tenn. night race).
For Tony Raines and the DLP HDTV team, any race at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) is of the utmost importance simply because Texas Instruments and its DLP HDTV brand are headquartered in Dallas. In addition, Hall of Fame Racing minority owners Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach and Bill Saunders all have notable Texas ties.
So, in a nutshell, Sunday's Dickies 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series event at TMS is a rather big deal, not to mention that Texas has the largest crowd, largest purse and is the largest media market in the final 10 races of the Nextel Cup season.
While every race is important, forgive Tony Raines, crew chief Brandon Thomas and the entire DLP crew if their adrenaline is pumping just a little bit harder this weekend.
TONY RAINES (Driver, No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet):
With DLP HDTV based in Dallas, plus the history of Staubach and Aikman with the Dallas Cowboys, how busy of a week will this be for you?
"It's a busy week, but I look at it as a fun week. Being in the backyard of DLP and Texas Instruments, you want to have a good showing for all their customers and employees. You're looking for a good weekend at 'home,' so to speak. It's a good chance to meet and catch up with a lot of people you might not see a lot of during the season. This is the last time I'll drive for Hall of Fame Racing and DLP at TMS, so I want to give them a great showing."
What does it take to be fast at Texas?
"A lot of throttle. I think Texas is similar in a lot of respects to Atlanta. The surface has gotten a little worn. It's not quite like Atlanta, where it has a real high groove. But Texas does tend to break into a second groove during the race. It's a big, fast track and you've got to have your aero package maxed out and have good power. You need to have a good handle on the car because the tires will fall off (wear out). Handling is huge. A lot of the mile-and-a-half tracks look similar from the air but have their own characteristics."
BRANDON THOMAS (Crew Chief, No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet):
People assume that all 1.5-mile tracks are fairly similar. Is that true?
"Yes and no. The main difference between tracks is the surface and the bumps. The corner radius can be a little bit different. Every corner is going to be a little bit different at every track. The way a track is surveyed and paved is going to vary from place to place so some of the loads move around a little bit. At Texas, your biggest problem has typically been the bumps where the tunnels are -- more so in turns one and two than (turns) three and four. So, you might be a little bit less aggressive on rear spring stiffness, trying to soak that bump up a little bit more than at another track. There are little, subtle differences in each track and that's why you don't unload with the same set-up week in and week out. But, you get into a package where you start feeling comfortable with the package and just work on small details. But the major components of the package are pretty similar."
Texas is obviously a big week for the DLP HDTV team. How do you handle it as a crew chief?
"It's very tough. It means lots of additional people around. Obviously, there is additional pressure. You can't really pick the weeks you're going to have a good race and a bad race. You hate to have a bad race any time. You really hate to have a bad race in front of the Texas crowd. That is a marquee event for DLP and the ownership group. So you want to go there and put your best foot forward, obviously. It's additional pressure. It's in the back of your mind. You try to block it out, but it's one of those things you never really get rid of."