McREYNOLDS: To make most of Daytona test -- and don't burn another -- teams must get in the draft

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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.


Getting faster and drafting

If I were still a crew chief with all of these body location unknowns, I would work on making the car faster in the first couple of days. If you can make it go faster in single-lap qualifying trim, it'll be faster in race trim. On that third and final day, with so many unknowns about this body plus the fact that it could be my last test before we return for SpeedWeeks, I'm going to try to get a bunch of cars from different teams together and see how these new cars perform in the draft. When I leave Daytona after the three-day test, I want to know that I made my car as fast as it can go by itself for qualifying trim, and my driver and I have some good, solid information and a good feel for what this car is going to drive like in race trim.

To test or not to test after Daytona

This year's round of Daytona testing is going to be even different and mean more this year because in the past, teams had seven tests to play with over the course of a year. If you went to Daytona and didn't run well, you would go home and make major adjustments -- whether it's engine, car or body adjustments -- and you'd test at Talladega the latter part of January. With only five tests starting this year, it's going to be tough to go to Talladega because you will have only three tests left for the rest of the year. But it's a catch-22. Daytona is the Super Bowl. It builds your momentum for the season in a lot of ways. Although and his team kind of threw out that theory by finishing dead last and coming back to win the championship last year, when you go to Daytona and have a good week and a half, you leave with so much momentum. Especially if you've got a new sponsor or a new package, you can't afford to go to Daytona and run bad. You're going to have to do what you have to do to perform well at Daytona, even if it means burning two of five tests for the year in the first month.

Test order: From makes to points

For years and years, testing dates were determined by which manufacturer you had. The GM teams would test one week, and the Ford teams would test another week. Now with a third manufacturer (Dodge) and so many divisions that have to test -- like Busch, Goody's Dash, Trucks -- they had to break down the Winston Cup test a little differently. Now if you finished in an odd-numbered points position -- 1,3, 5, 7 and so on -- you test this week, regardless of what make you are. If you finished in an even-numbered spots -- 2, 4, 6, 8, etc. -- you go next week.
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

The book "Larry McReynolds: The Big Picture" is on bookstore shelves now, or you may order your own autographed copy from

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Testing schedule/Daytona info

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  • Location rule saves time, money
    NASCAR has always had a body location rule in Busch, but I know for a fact that the one reason they were always very hesitant to make a body location rule in Winston Cup is it might favor one make over another. I can relate to that because when I left the Ford Thunderbird at the end of 1996 and went to work with Richard Childress and the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, the body location need was significantly different. Now the major part of aero, which is the greenhouse area -- the roof, the windshield, the back window and the sides of the greenhouse -- and the decklid length -- the distance from the back window to the rear spoiler -- is pretty much the same on all four makes. Whether the body location is good or bad, it should be the same for everyone, and I have heard rumblings that a different location would be better. But the bottom line is it's the same for everyone. Since every team was rebodying and building new cars anyway, the time was right for all cars to become similar aerowise with the new body location rule. If I were still a crew chief, I would applaud a body location rule because we would wear out our fabricators. There were times when we would cut the body off a car that hadn't even been to the track because I didn't like where it was located. We constantly would put bodies in different locations, trying to see if we could make the car better. It should be a huge expense reduction for the owners too.
    Run like the wind for wind-tunnel piece
    Last week Jeff Hammond and I attended a wind-tunnel test in Michigan with the Joe Gibbs group, which had one of their Busch cars, one of 's Daytona cars and one of 's downforce cars like he'd run at Rockingham or Las Vegas. We worked very hard shooting a piece for FOX' SpeedWeeks coverage, and being crew chiefs for a number of years, Jeff and I know that wind tunnel time is so precious and goes by so fast that we just got in there, shot what we needed to shoot and got out of the way. It will be kind of a humorous piece, but right in the middle of it, we tried to educate fans about what's gone on with all these teams changing bodies, building new cars and why it was done. We got into those areas with some of the officials from GM.

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