6. Seat Time Is So Crucial One of the worst things you can do is to not test at all before the first race. You are setting yourself up for failure by doing so. I'm not saying that you have to go and rent the track, but most tracks will have a practice day leading up to the first race. By being there for the practice day, you can work out all the kinks in your car. Your goal shouldn't be to set a fast time during this practice day, but rather to get the car where she is prepared for that first race.

This will go a long way in preparing your focus for the opening race of the season. Remember valuable seat time is something everybody needs regardless of their skill level. It gets you back into the groove of driving after the long off-season.

7. Set A Game Plan For That First Race Having a game plan differs from setting goals; a game plan will give you a strategy when heading to that first race. This game plan should include what you need to do to the car when you first get to the track, and the times that you want certain jobs completed. For example, the car needs to be through tech by noon, while the tires mounted up and ready to go by 12:30, so that we can have the car on the scales by 1:00 p.m.

This game plan can also extend into what you are going to try during practice, and what changes you are going to make depending on how your car is handling. By writing this game plan out you're already turning your focus to the race at hand.

8. Discover Your Flaws Drivers, and I'm one, hate to admit where we need improvement. But the ones who can do so and improve on where they struggle are more apt to win the championship than the driver who just accepts his/her flaws. For instance, if you struggle at qualifying, I suggest you rent the track and make two-lap qualifying runs all day in an effort to improve your qualifying position. You can't expect to have a legitimate shot at winning the race if you're qualifying at the back of the field.

9. Set Deadlines For When The Car Has To Be Prepared For The First Race I've been a part of teams that let the season sneak up on them and it was a struggle to get the car ready for the first race of the year. It always ended up being a last second deal and we were always up to 3 a.m. the night before the first race. So what I'll do now is set deadlines a few weeks before the event. These deadlines might include when the motor has to be ready, when the car has to be painted, the first time the car has to be on the track, and so on. This will keep that first race from sneaking up on you. And the night before the race you can be in your bed getting the sleep you need.

10. Look Closely At Last Season's Notes We talked about looking at last season's disappointments, but now you need to look at last year's successes. Look at your setup notes from when you had the best run last year. Look for differences in your numbers that might have put you in the winner's circle that evening. Was there a little more left-side weight in those numbers, then in the rest of the notes? By examining your successful outings you might find a subtle difference that could put you back into the winner's circle.

More than anything these 10 tips help put your focus back onto that first race of the year. I can't stress how important it is that when that green flag drops for the first race of the year that you're ready for it. If your focus is anywhere else besides that race, you'll be thrust into a bad situation that will more than likely end up with you getting your car torn up. So don't let that happen, prepare for the first race of the year and turn your focus onto winning your first event of the year!