Texas II: Tony Raines preview

TONY RAINES Texas is 'Kind of a Big Deal' CORNELIUS, N.C., (Nov. 1, 2006) -- If you said that the Texas race is a 'kind of a big deal' to Hall of Fame Racing and the No. 96 DLP HDTV team, then apparently Ron Burgundy's ego in the movie...

Texas is 'Kind of a Big Deal'

CORNELIUS, N.C., (Nov. 1, 2006) -- If you said that the Texas race is a 'kind of a big deal' to Hall of Fame Racing and the No. 96 DLP HDTV team, then apparently Ron Burgundy's ego in the movie 'Anchorman' is 'just a little inflated.'

Neither description is entirely accurate.

Just as Burgundy's ego is huge, the Dickies 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series event at Texas Motor Speedway is a huge race in terms of importance for Tony Raines and Hall of Fame Racing.

Consider the Texas ties to the team:

*Co-owner Roger Staubach, a former Dallas quarterback, won two championships in the 1970s.

*Co-owner Troy Aikman, also a former Dallas quarterback, won three championships in the 1990s.

*Tony Raines, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy, won a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Texas in 1997.

*Terry Labonte, who drove the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy in the seven races in 2006, is from Corpus Christi, Texas.

*Philippe Lopez, competition director for the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy, is from San Antonio, Texas.

*Bill Saunders, managing partner for the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy, is from Dallas.

*DLP HDTV, a division of Texas Instruments, is based in Dallas.

The importance of the race will be highlighted by a special paint scheme on Raines' No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevy. The regular blue, black and green paint scheme will be replaced by dark blue and silver as a tribute to Aikman and Staubach's incredible football careers in Dallas. A small number 8 (Aikman) will appear on the left C-post of the car and a small 12 (Staubach) will appear on the right C-Post. Each of their signatures will appear beneath their respective numbers.

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

You had a seventh-place finish at Charlotte (N.C.) and then a 14th-place finish at Martinsville (Va.). The DLP team then struggled at Atlanta, finishing 34th. What are you thoughts heading into the Dickies 500 at Texas?

"We had a bit of struggle in the first Texas race, right up until about the middle of the race. We then got the car pretty decent where it was pretty racy. Hopefully we can build on that. I like Texas. I'm just looking forward to having a better weekend then we did the first weekend. Although there are no guarantees, it's another chance for us to get strong on the 1.5-mile tracks. Charlotte was a shot in the arm. If we can get anything like that at Texas, it'd be a good weekend."

With DLP HDTV based in Dallas, plus the history of Staubach and Aikman in Dallas, how busy of a weekend is it 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. I look forward to going to Texas."

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-half (tracks) look similar from the air, but have there own characteristics."

Three races remain in the Chase for the Nextel Cup. Who do you think will win it?

"Before Atlanta, I was leaning toward Denny (Hamlin) and not just because of the Gibbs connection. They struggled a little bit at Atlanta, but rallied for a good finish. I'm starting to think that 48 car (Jimmie Johnson) is looking pretty darn good."

What do you think it will take to win the championship in the final three races?

"This will sound stupid, but it's the guy with the three best finishes. If Jimmie finishes third, third, third and nobody else can match it, he's going to win. The 17 (Matt Kenseth) is in a good spot. The 48 is in a good spot and Hamlin is in a good spot. Hamlin runs well at Texas and Phoenix, so he's got a shot, for sure. Without question, it's going to come down to Homestead (Fla.). It's for sure the best Chase so far. It will be very interesting. Anybody can win this thing. I like Denny's chances at Texas and Phoenix, and Roush has always run well at Homestead. And the 48 is always strong. So, it's the heavyweights coming down to the end."

What do you think of the car being painted in dark blue and silver to honor Roger and Troy?

"It's a pretty cool looking car. It's a neat way to honor them for everything they accomplished in Dallas. They are idolized down there and for good reason. They had great careers, but were also players that played the game right. Everybody speaks very highly of them, and it's a lot of fun to drive for them."

Terry Labonte is retiring following the Texas race. He was your teammate this season for seven races in the DLP Chevy. What are your thoughts on him?

"I've always had a lot of respect for Terry. I was always a big fan of his and had a lot of respect for him. It was a neat opportunity to get the chance to work with him on the DLP team. Obviously, his Texas roots and him being a big Cowboys fan probably made it even more special for him. I was thankful for the opportunity, and even before this all came along, I always enjoyed racing with Terry. He and Bill Elliott and Harry Gant -- they were all just class acts and treated me really nice. It was neat to be involved with him this year."

Thoughts from Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach and Bill Saunders about Terry Labonte's retirement:

ROGER STAUBACH, (Co-owner, Hall of Fame Racing): "Hall of Fame Racing and our sponsor, DLP HDTV, had the great pleasure of working with Terry for seven races this season. We can't thank him enough for what he did to help our team get going. We also need to thank Hendrick Motorsports for letting us 'borrow' Terry this year. Terry drove great this year and gave us all a thrill with his outstanding drive to third-place at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma (Calif.). After the race, he told the media that he was a big fan of mine when he was growing up in Texas. I hope he understands that I am just as big a fan of his. He has represented his family, his teams, his sponsors and the state of Texas very, very well throughout his distinguished career. He is a class act, and we'll miss watching him compete in NASCAR racing."

TROY AIKMAN, (Co-owner, Hall of Fame Racing): "Terry has had an incredible career and I'm glad that we were able to be a small part of it. He did a fantastic job getting Hall of Fame Racing and the DLP team up and running in our first year. We can't thank him enough for that. He has enjoyed a great career -- winning two championships and numerous races. But more importantly, he was a class act all the way. He did things the right way. I wish him the best in his retirement."

BILL SAUNDERS (Managing Partner, Hall of Fame Racing): "Hall of Fame Racing would not be where they are today without Terry Labonte. He not only drove his heart out for us, he was also our leader. To have that kind of wisdom and calming effect on this new team really was, as they say, 'priceless.' Everyone on this DLP team thinks Terry is the man. Personally, I'll miss his counsel and stories about racing. I'll also miss those colorful comments on the radio during a race. The people that know him know how funny he is"

-credit: hofr

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Bill Elliott , Matt Kenseth , Terry Labonte , Tony Raines , Jimmie Johnson
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , Hall of Fame Racing