TONY RAINES The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You CORNELIUS, N.C., (April 9, 2007) -- Nearly all of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams consider Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., to be their hometown track. After all, just about every team is...
The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You
CORNELIUS, N.C., (April 9, 2007) -- Nearly all of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams consider Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., to be their hometown track. After all, just about every team is within a one-hour drive of the 1.5-mile oval and practically every crew member lives in the area.
However, Hall of Fame Racing, which fields the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet for veteran Tony Raines, considers another 1.5-mile facility to be its hometown track: Texas Motor Speedway (TMS).
This week's Samsung 500 Nextel Cup Series race is a marquee event for every driver and team, but especially for Raines and Hall of Fame Racing.
As Texas Motor Speedway's "Hometown Team," they know that the eyes of Texas are upon them.
TONY RAINES (Driver, No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet):
With DLP HDTV based in Dallas, plus the history of Staubach and Aikman with the 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. 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-a-half tracks look similar from the air but have their own characteristics."
Is it going to be strange to switch from the Chevy Impala SS Car of Tomorrow back to the "old" Chevy Monte Carlo SS?
"It might be a little different. The roof might seem a little lower and the windshield probably won't seem as big, but after a couple of laps, it should be back to normal. The guys have been working hard on both programs, so hopefully we can have a good showing with the old car. I know it's tough on them having to work on both cars, so we'd like to reward them with a good run."
What did you do Easter weekend?
"Really, we just kind of relaxed. I played some golf and watched The Masters. It's kind of tough knowing this is the last off weekend for a while. We've got a crucial stretch coming up and we really need to focus and get better each week. I'm ready to go and I know the guys on the DLP team are too."
BRANDON THOMAS (Crew Chief, No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet):
What are your overall thoughts heading into Texas?
"It's a downforce track. We've run three downforce races so far this season. We were very unhappy with Atlanta. We found a couple of problems, some things that we probably weren't paying enough attention to. It was basically my fault, my oversight on a couple of things. We feel confident that we understood what went wrong and we're ready to go back and attack it again."
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 1 and 2 than (turns) 3 and 4. So, you might be a little bit less aggressive on rear spring stiffness trying to soak that bump up a little bit more than another track. There are little, subtle differences in each track and that's why you don't unload with the same setup 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. It's kind of like Bristol a couple of weeks ago and some of the media were interested in talking to me because I grew up there. 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 anytime. 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 an 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."