Michigan II: Tony Raines preview

TONY RAINES 2007 Summer Homecoming Tour Presented By DLP HDTV -- Part IV CORNELIUS, N.C., (Aug. 13, 2007) -- Tony Raines began his racing career by competing at small tracks around Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. As Raines ...

Michigan II: Tony Raines preview

TONY RAINES
2007 Summer Homecoming Tour Presented By DLP HDTV -- Part IV

CORNELIUS, N.C., (Aug. 13, 2007) -- Tony Raines began his racing career by competing at small tracks around Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.

As Raines worked his way to the pinnacle of racing in the United States -- the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series -- he began competing at places like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway and Michigan International Speedway.

Raines' hometown of LaPorte, Ind., is about two-and-a-half hours from Indianapolis, site of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, where he finished 41st on July 29, and about 90 minutes from Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., where he finished 24th on July 15.

LaPorte is also about three hours from Michigan International Speedway (MIS) in Brooklyn, where this week's 3M Performance 400 Nextel Cup race will mark the fourth and final installment in the 2007 Tony Raines Summer Homecoming Tour Presented by DLP HDTV.

Raines has plenty of memories from racing at tracks around Michigan and even attending a NASCAR race at MIS as a spectator in the late 1980s.

So while his first Nextel Cup Series win would be special no matter where it occurred, a win at Michigan -- in front of the hometown crowd -- would be extra special.

Local flavor: Several crew members on the No. 96 DLP HDTV Chevrolet come from towns in Ohio, and MIS is the closest thing to a "hometown" track they have on the NASCAR circuit.

Gary "Turtle" Clem (Truck Driver -- Eaton, Ohio), Scott Creque (Pit Support -- Lyons, Ohio), Jim Davis (Tire Specialist -- New Philadelphia, Ohio) and Steve Hoegler (Engineer -- Cleveland) all hail from the Buckeye State.

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

Overall thoughts heading into Michigan:

"The last three weeks, our performance and our speed have been stepped up. Obviously, Ron (Fellows), being the great road racer, the team gave him a great car and he got a great finish (at Watkins Glen). We had a good, solid run at Pocono, where during the previous race we were not so good. In the first Michigan race, we weren't very good. So if we can have the same kind of improvement at Michigan that we did at Pocono, that would be a solid effort from everybody. I'm hopeful and ready to go and we're ready to keep the momentum going.

You served as a spotter for Ron Fellows last week at Watkins Glen. What was that experience like?

"The chicane is usually an interesting place, so I thought rather than sitting on pit road and not doing anything, I could at least watch from a better place on the track. Spotting there is not a big deal. I really didn't do anything. But I was able to watch a lot of drivers and a lot of cars and I believe our car looked as good or better than anybody's. So I think the DLP team did its work. They definitely gave Ron a good car and you've got to have a good car to have a good day."

Does the track at Michigan change from the June race to the August race?

"The conditions are different, I think. In August, it's a little bit slicker and hotter. The track there is very temperature-sensitive and, obviously, a cooler track is a faster track."

What are your thoughts with 14 races remaining and achieving the goal of finishing in the top-20 in owner points?

"We changed our approach to some things three or four races ago and it seems like we've seen some instant improvement. We seem to think we have more potential. It's hard because it's hard to switch in mid-stream. But, on the other hand, it seems that it's given us more flexibility -- the ability to adjust the car and get a little bit more speed. The downside is we're new to it, so there is a lot we don't know. But the upside is it just seems like the potential is better. I'm excited. It just seems to fit us better.

Do you think Michigan gets overlooked as a hotbed of racing?

"Without a doubt. There are a lot of good dirt tracks around there. But there are so many paved speedways that have talented drivers. It just goes on and on. The coolest race to me was what they call the 'Dealer's Choice' in Kalamazoo. It was a race in the fall and they would run any and every kind of class that ran around the state. They paid good money and there would be hundreds and hundreds of cars showing up. I went up there one time with a Sportsman car and I ended up finishing second. That was one of the first big races that I entered and did well against that many cars. It was a bigger track than I had ever been too. If you ask anyone in Michigan about the 'Dealer's Choice,' they'd know what you were talking about."

What do you remember about that first race you attended at Michigan?

"I was in the grandstands and I don't think I was even 21, yet. I just remember the cars, the quality of cars and sponsors, the paint jobs, the crowd. It was just a really exciting event. I remember Rusty (Wallace) leaving pit road. They didn't have pit-road speed then and he'd just hit the chip on every gear on the way off pit road. He got on and off pit road better than anybody else. That stuck out as the most memorable thing."

-credit: hofr

shares
comments
Michigan II: Carl Edwards preview
Previous article

Michigan II: Carl Edwards preview

Next article

Michigan II: Kurt Busch preview

Michigan II: Kurt Busch preview
Load comments
How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory Prime

How Larson took the long way round to NASCAR Cup glory

From villain to hero, Kyle Larson had to reach his lifelong goal the hard way and go through a very public shaming after a ban for using a racial slur, but his talents shone long before his name grabbed the headlines...

NASCAR Cup
Nov 10, 2021
How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022 Prime

How NASCAR is gearing up for its "biggest change" in 2022

It’s not just Formula 1 that’s set for upheaval in 2022, as the NASCAR Cup series adopts its Next Gen cars that will cast any in-built advantages aside and require teams to adopt a totally new way of operating. Far more than just a change of machinery, the new cars amount to a shift in NASCAR's core philosophy

NASCAR Cup
Oct 12, 2021
Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR Prime

Why Bubba Wallace’s Talladega win is such a big moment for NASCAR

Bubba Wallace claimed his maiden NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega on Monday to become the first Black victor in the category since Wendell Scott in 1963. Both Wallace and Scott had faced obstacles and racism in their paths to their breakthrough wins, and NASCAR is trying to put it right with its range of diversity programmes

NASCAR Cup
Oct 5, 2021
Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI Prime

Why NASCAR's most resilient driver has landed on his feet at 23XI

In a career that has had many ups and downs, Kurt Busch has been written off many times before. But facing career uncertainty after the sale of Chip Ganassi's NASCAR team, the 2004 Cup champion has found a new berth at Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan's 23XI organization - which underlines his enduring value

NASCAR Cup
Aug 31, 2021
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021