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Fusion, Monte Carlo face first real test at Las Vegas

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Larry McReynolds

Larry McReynolds has more than 30 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, Daytona 500-winning crew chief and broadcaster. He earned 23 Sprint Cup wins as a crew chief, including two victories in the prestigious Daytona 500, as well as a pair of non-points victories in the annual all-star race. Follow him on Twitter.

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Even though we check into Speedweeks in less than two weeks, a lot of focus and attention is now being turned toward the downforce racetracks as the Nextel Cup and Busch teams head to Las Vegas for the first downforce test. It's going to be a very important test for the new Ford Fusion and the new Monte Carlo because it's going to be the first time a lot of these teams have had an opportunity to be on the racetrack with other cars.

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  • Feb. 1, 7 p.m. ET: Nextel Cup testing from Las Vegas
  • Everyone is getting ready for the Daytona 500. It's the first race of the year. It sets the tempo for your season. If you don't win it but have a good Speedweeks, the next few weeks go well because you've built momentum. I've been down there and struggled, and it's almost like we couldn't do anything right for the next few races because we were beaten up from 11 days of not running well. Now teams have to start saying, "Hey! We leave Daytona, and we go straight to Fontana." The Busch teams leave Fontana, go to Mexico City and then straight to Las Vegas. Even though teams are still preparing long and hard for Daytona Speedweeks, they've got to start getting their other stuff together too, and that's what the Las Vegas test is all about.

    TV times

    I won't be going to the Vegas test. SPEED is sending Bob Dillner for a testing show on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET on SPEED. Last Monday, Darrell Waltrip, Mike Joy, Jeff Hammond and I went to Vegas for the day and spent a little bit of time with all the FOX affiliates from all over the country. It's really hard to believe we're going into our sixth year of broadcasting. I'm about a year away from working longer for FOX Sports than any race teams that I worked for. And I didn't jump around a whole lot. I only worked for three different race teams. My next TV broadcast will be Friday, Feb. 10 for the first Daytona practice, and we will do the first Trackside show of the year that night. We're going to be doing five Trackside shows the following week, Monday through Friday, leading up to the 500. When Speedweeks opens, even though the Nextel Cup and Busch races will be on NBC and TNT, the first group you're going to see on the air is our SPEED team.

    Daytona test doesn't end Wells

    Cal Wells, the owner of Travis Kvapil's No. 32 car, said his team struggled a little bit at Daytona. If you struggled at your Daytona test in years past, you could go home, redo the car and test at Talladega. You can't do that with the new testing rules. Wells is going to the proving grounds to do some straight-line testing, and they're going to the wind tunnel. They will do everything they can to sort out their program and make it better because they're not locked into the 500.

    Bradshaw's jinx continues

    Last week, I knew Carolina was probably in trouble when FOX NFL Sunday co-host Terry Bradshaw started favoring the Panthers. Even though I'm disappointed that Carolina didn't go all the way to the Super Bowl, I've got to put it in perspective. In 11 seasons, the franchise has been to three NFC championship games and one Super Bowl. After 30 years, Seattle is going to its first Super Bowl. Certainly the Panthers don't have anything to hang their heads about. They had an awesome season. They were beaten up after the Chicago game, and they were fighting a huge bout with the flu, which cost Julius Peppers one or two days of practice. Certainly two of the best teams in the NFL will be going to the Super Bowl. I just believe Pittsburgh is going to be very tough to handle right now. They are on their "A" game week in and week out. But Terry picked the Steelers to win the Super Bowl, which could be a big problem.
    Speed Mail Larry

    Playing hurt

    Honest John from Miami: Sorry to hear about your stint with a generator. I hope you heal well and soon! We are the same age, and I worry about breaking parts. We think like Superman, but our body parts just forget to tell the brain, "the whole story!" Larry McReynolds: I'm actually out of my splint. The doctor still has me wear it when I'm working around my son Brandon's car. (By the way, Brandon won his very first road course race last Sunday at Lowe's and extended his points lead halfway through the winter series.) My injury has taught me not to be afraid to get some of the younger guys to lift the heavier stuff. If I had everything to do over — a lot like my compadre Mr. Hammond — I probably would do a little better job at working out and having my muscles a little stronger than they probably are. So I've learned two lessons. The first is to get in a little better shape, but the other is, at 47 years old, I have to realize that I can't lift, push and pick up the same things that I could when I was 27.


    FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at www.crewchiefclub.com.

    "How to Become a Winning Crew Chief" is on bookstore shelves, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.

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