As this season draws closer, there are some drivers who will be ready for it more than others. These drivers understand that the foundation of a championship season starts with the very first week. These drivers will start off strong, and maintain focus and determination throughout the season. It doesn't matter if you're running on Friday night at a local short track or the World of Outlaw Late Model Tour; the same guidelines apply. Don't let this season sneak up on you; here are ten tips that will jumpstart you toward that championship you've been craving.

1. Assess And Upgrade Do you build your own motor? Are you getting beaten week in and week out by the guys who are running an engine from a professional shop? If you answered yes to both of these questions, it's time for you to assess your program and possibly upgrade to a better motor. This is just an example, but the point is by taking a critical look at your own program and comparing it with the guys who are winning on a consistent basis you could find the way to Victory Lane.

2. Get Into Shape, Or Start Working Toward That Goal I know, I know, the debate will always be present: Does being in shape really make that much of a difference on race day? Trust me, the answer is yes. It may not feel like that at the start of the season, but wait until the summer months. I can guarantee you the drivers who are in shape and take care of their bodies will rise to the top. Can you say Carl Edwards? Not to say that an out-of-shape driver won't win in the summer months, but a driver who is in shape will have a ton more focus because he/she is not distracted by the heat, or the sweat. All his focus is directly on capturing that checkered flag.

OK, so let's say you haven't even started working out. It's not too late! Start now, even if it's only a couple weeks from your first race. By the time the hot summer months get here you'll be working toward that goal of being in shape. And you'll be better off.

3. Eliminate Your Distractions At The Track Last year I attended a Late Model race at Hickory Motor Speedway with a friend of mine. We were standing in the pits waiting for the race to start when my friend tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to a car in its pit stall. The crew was working frantically to get the car ready for the feature. The driver was leaning up against the pit buggy, and believe it or not was racing RC cars! I kid you not, 20 laps into the feature the driver was exiting his Late Model during a red flag after he proceeded to destroy the front end of his car. The kid's head was never at the track, he was nowhere near focused enough for that green flag to drop. Don't let this happen to you this year; eliminate any distraction you have at the speedway. Regardless of what that distraction is, it will pull your attention away from where it should be on winning the main.

4. Find Speed In Last Year's Disappointments Remember those mistakes you made last year that cost you a win? Well, the only way you'll prevent those mistakes from happening again is if you learn from them. If you missed a shift on a restart and got spun down the front stretch, you better be practicing going through the gears.

But more than that, let's say there's a particular track that you struggle at every time you go. Before the season starts, you need to be on the phone speaking with other drivers about how they get around that track better than you. This will give you a basis of comparison and the foundation to build a game plan for when you first arrive at that particular track.

5. Set Goals Heading into that first race of the season, sit down with your team and make a list of primary and secondary goals. The thing to remember when doing this is to make them realistic. If you didn't win a single event last year; your first goal should be to finish in the top three. And your secondary goal should be to win a race by year's end. This will give you goals to work toward. Plus, at the end of the year you can look back and be able to judge how successful your season was.