The green flag is about to...
The green flag is about to drop on this year, are you ready for it? John Gibson
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.
By associating with people...
By associating with people who are accustommed to winning, you're setting yourself up for success as well. Jeff Hunneycutt
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.
A simple loss in focus could...
A simple loss in focus could have you end up in a spot like these drivers. When that green flag drops, make sure you are prepared for it. John Gibson
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.
Remember that disappointing...
Remember that disappointing wreck you had last year. Well, what got you to this point? Examine last year's disappointments so that you can avoid those situations this upcoming season. John Gibson
Eating right, and drinking...
Eating right, and drinking plenty of fluids will be extremely important come the hot summer months. So get started early this year and get in shape. John Gibson
Set some goals this upcoming...
Set some goals this upcoming season, so that at year's end you'll be able to judge how successful you were in your season. John Gibson
Seat time is so crucial to...
Seat time is so crucial to how well you run. Before the first race of the year, you should test at least once to work all the kinks out of the car. John Gibson
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.
By having a game plan, you'll...
By having a game plan, you'll be prepared for when things go wrong during a race. John Gibson
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.
Having someone take notes...
Having someone take notes during the race is a great idea, this will give you something to look back on at the end of the year. Erica Smetters
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!
If you consistently find yourself...
If you consistently find yourself in situations like these, you need to find out why this is happening. Examine your flaws, and determine the problem. It might be because you aren't a good qualifier. By qualifying up front you'll have a better chance to miss all of that mess. John Gibson
These tips are designed to...
These tips are designed to pull your focus from every distraction you have, and back onto that first race of the year. So stay focused and who knows, you might just win! John Gibson
These tips apply for whatever...
These tips apply for whatever age group, or vehicle you'll be racing. John Gibson