"I'd like to get Jim in the car a lot more than we'll be able to, given the late start we are going to get. But I won't take Jeff out of the car until our testing is done. There is simply no sense putting a rookie driver in a car that isn't ready."

The team has been pulling on the car since before dawn, measuring, changing springs, adjusting camber, studying exactly what the chassis does when it goes through a corner.

With the hydraulic rams they can mimic its attitude as the car enters a corner, when it turns in, when the driver rolls onto the throttle and how the suspension will respond on exit.

Carruthers crawls under the car for another look, another measurement.

"We're learning a lot," he says with a grin. "What we find out here will help us all season long. It better be worth it, because this part of racing sure is dull."

The author can be reached at jfboone@aol.com.

A Driver'sTop 5Here is what Jeff Jefferson considers the five most important responsibilities of a driver during testing:

1. Do the same thing every time out. "What happens with a lot of young drivers is they don't feel a change when the crew makes an adjustment, so they begin to drive the car differently to try to discover something."

2. Be honest. Sometimes a crew will spend a lot of time working on something and you want to reward them for their work. But if it didn't make any difference-or if the problem got worse instead of better-tell them that. Testing is not the time to try to make people feel good.

3. Smoothness counts. Don't horse the car around. Be smooth with your feet. Drive the car just like you would in a race.

4. Be willing to try things that might seem pretty odd. Testing is all about learning, and something you learn today might come in handy later on. That is especially true with shocks. The track in March won't feel the same as it does in August.

5. Push the car. While no driver wants to hang a car on the fence during testing, you simply can't cruise around and think you are getting anywhere. "Be confident enough in your ability to push the car to the limits, knowing that you can catch it if you push too hard. I constantly overdrive the car, because the goal is to go faster."

A crew chief'sTop 5Here is what Chuck Carruthers considers the five most important responsibilities of a crew chief during testing:

1. Know your car. Before you put it in the trailer, you should have a detailed record of caster, camber, toe, spring rates and full alignment specs. "I've built cars for customers who will call me after a half dozen races and complain the car was really quick but now just doesn't handle the same. In 90 percent of the cases, the rearend is out of alignment. They could have solved their problems just by bringing the car back to baseline."

2. Pre-plan your test session. If you want to try a different front spindle, change it at the shop before you go to the track and get everything aligned right. That way, you know exactly what needs to be done when you get to the track and you aren't wasting valuable time trying to figure out what else needs to be changed. Be organized at the track. It doesn't make any difference if you have a crew of full-time paid employees or it is your brother-in-law and his fishing friend, everyone should know what to do and what's expected of them. You have to develop that organization at the shop.

3. Keep meticulous records. Don't just write down "changed front bar" and let it go at that. Write down what you were trying to accomplish and what effect it had after it was changed. And record lap times, tire temps, stagger and pressure gain every time a car comes back in.