When developing a dirt setup, you have to consider where you will be racing, what the conditions will be like for the event, and what changes are possible with your car so that you can be good for each run you make.

Dirt is hard to set up for mainly because the conditions change so quickly. After hot laps, which will usually tell you nothing due to the track being so wet and sloppy, as the heats are run for the various classes, the track will dry out, the moisture will either soak into the dirt, or evaporate, and the amount of grip will change.

In working with the dynamics of chassis setup over the years, one very important thing I have learned is that as the lateral g-forces change, so does the handling balance of a race car. A particular set of springs combined with the front and rear roll centers, and more is balanced for a given side load.

On dirt, this side load amount changes considerably. After the track has been packed in and the surface is smooth, moist, but not wet, it will probably have the most grip it will have the entire event. So, a relatively high lateral force is generated and the balance must match that condition.

The key here is to be ready and prepared to make changes to your car, not if, but when the conditions change enough to warrant those changes. And, we must know what to change and how much, so that we keep up with the balance we need to be fast and consistent.

Now I have a short comment on consistency. It has long been a theory of mine that you don't necessarily need to have the fastest car to win on dirt. Many times the winner is the one who makes the fewest mistakes. A car that is hard to drive causes more mistakes and loses more time during those missteps.

Today we see teams and car builders designing their moment centers more carefully and running setups where the left front tire is mostly in contact with the track surface. In other words, the car is setup with a more balanced dynamic.

What we get is not only speed, but consistency and the top teams know that is the way to Victory Lane. Here are 10 things you can do this season to be more consistent and give yourself a better chance at winning.

1. Front End Geometry

For any race car with a double A-arm front suspension, we always start with an analysis of the front end geometry. If the moment center (roll center) design on your car is not right, then the whole car will suffer, no matter what setup you have in it. This we have established as a fact.

The dirt car moment center design is different than that of an asphalt car. On dirt, the average g-force is much less than on asphalt because the track just does not provide as much grip. So, the MC needs to be located farther to the left in order for the car to work well.

Most dirt cars are not adjustable for upper or lower control arm angles, the parts we need to change in order to refine our MC location. So, we might need to make modifications to our chassis and/or spindles to improve our MC design.

This is not so hard to do. On a Dirt Late Model for example, we only need to know how far to move our inner mounting points and then drill new holes in the uppers. We have done this with many Dirt Late Models and it works well. The improvement is not only in the MC location, but in improved camber change.

2. Rear Geometry

The dirt car rear geometry layouts are varied and usually highly adjustable, not to mention complicated. Each car needs to be evaluated for where it is to be raced and then setup correctly. The trailing arm angles affect the rear steer and bite and the pull bar or lift arm can redistribute the rear loads upon acceleration and deceleration.

Many teams will tell you that there is a need for rearend steer to the right at times when the car is tight and you need to get it pointed in order to exit the corner. During tight and tacky conditions, a slight amount of rear steer to the left would probably improve lap times, but only if the car turns well. The use of rear steer to the left must only occur on acceleration and not at mid-turn. This is a possibility with certain designs.

It all comes down to trying to create better driver comfort and more consistency. If a jacked up setup causes us to make more mistakes than one that places all four tires on the track, speed being equal, then opt for the more consistent setup and you will gravitate to the front.

Time after time, I have seen where the top dirt teams have setups where the car runs more straight ahead and all four tires are on the ground. I have even seen a trend toward braking into the corners, driving straight ahead through the middle and then powering off going slightly sideways. I have seen this with not only Dirt Late Models, but Big Block NE Modifieds and I even saw Tony Stewart do this with his Sprint Car during a heat race.