After his win at Watkins Glen on Sunday, Jeff Gordon burned rubber in textbook fashion, a vast improvement on what he called a "pretty sad" attempt to do so at the Brickyard 400. In his defense, the burnouts and infield doughnuts that Kevin Harvick (below) and others have made popular are rarely rehearsed. "It's kind of like a teenager practicing kissing in the mirror," says Winston Cup driver Buckshot Jones. "Even if you did it, you wouldn't tell anybody." Here are a few tips on how to start smoking.
1. Put the car in gear and, with your foot on the brake, rev the motor. "Run the engine to as many rpm as you can without grenading it," says driver Jeremy Mayfield.
2. Pop the clutch. This gets the rear wheels spinning, which provides the smoke. Timing is of the essence. Says Mayfield, "Start too late, and your engine blows. Start too soon, and the tires catch and you're dodging the wall."
3. Keep moving. "If you stay in place," says Jones, "the smoke will come into the car and make you sick." To keep moving, let the car roll a bit before popping the clutch and work the brake. But don't move too much or the tires will stop smoking.
4. Watch the gauges. "Get those rpm too high, and there's going to be trouble," says May-field. "It's pretty tough to explain to your engine builder why you blew his motor while celebrating. And it's pretty embarrassing to have your crew push the car to victory lane."