Owner: Troy Aikman/Roger Staubach/Bill Saunders
• Team: Hall of Fame Racing
• Crew Chief: Brandon Thomas
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
Final Points Standing
After First 26 Races
Lead Lap Finishes
* DLP Chevy with Terry Labonte and Tony Raines
2007 Spin Hall of Fame Racing finally got on track in 2006. With Terry Labonte running the first five events -- a decision made to jump-start the team and attempt to get it into the top 35 in Owner's Points -- it found itself in a big hole. Labonte averaged a 24.8-place finish in those events, pointing to a deficiency in the equipment.
Tony Raines then took over, as planned, and things perked up a bit. Running in his first big-time gig with an organization driven to succeed, Raines was able to drive the car home to a handful of top 20s. Not great, but for a first-year team and driver, it at least showed potential.
A rough stretch from Michigan to Talladega hurt the team, but not enough to prevent a rebound that would propel it well into the top 35 in Owner's Points for the start of the 2007 campaign.
As for '07, it is safe to safe to say the operation will be better off. Raines and the team have a year on the circuit under their belts, which they should parlay into more top 10s than the two they recorded in '06.
The Car of Tomorrow will undoubtedly set the team back. Its budget and R&D capabilities are nowhere close to what the powerhouse organizations enjoy, and that will be painfully obvious when the car is phased in.
Raines is proving to be an able pilot. While he suffers from some temperament issues on the track, he has gained the respect of his fellow competitors. He deserves some credit for handling the driving duties on a team that just doesn't stack up at this point in time.
It is hard to foresee any wins in the cards for '07, as an influx of new teams will hinder this group's progress. Its standing as a top 35 team will help, as will its use of Joe Gibbs Racing engines. Look for three, four, maybe five top 10s and possibly a top 5 if the planets align on a certain weekend.
2006 Recap Tony Raines had a substitute teacher for some of the season. The Hall of Fame Racing Team put Terry Labonte in the car for the first five races in an attempt to keep the car in the top 35 in Owner's Points and take the pressure off Raines for the rest of the season.
Raines had some decent performances when he jumped behind the wheel. He started 13th and stayed on the lead lap to finish a strong 11th at the Brickyard.
The fall Lowe's event was Raines' shining moment, though. Starting 39th, he drove a smooth, smart race, leading 28 laps before finishing seventh. The following weekend at Martinsville was big for the single-car outfit as well, qualifying 11th and finishing 14th.
It was about this time that Raines and the team really came into their own, notching five lead-lap finishes in the final seven races of the season. That momentum will be a big plus as they head into what promises to be a very competitive series in 2007.
• The Good: This pick is easy. In the fall Charlotte race, Tony Raines drove to the front and led 28 laps, finishing seventh. This was far and away the best race of the year for the team.
• The Bad: Raines did not drive the 96 car in the two road races. This puts him behind for the 2007 season. Mastering the road courses comes from seat time; Raines is behind in that department.
• The Ugly: At the Daytona 500, the Hall of Fame team took a hit from NASCAR with an engine rule infraction that cost the team money and valuable points. It was not Raines' or his team's fault; the problem was Joe Gibbs Racing, which furnishes the engines.