His driver is recovering from back surgery, his Ford Taurus is one of the makes that has seen recent rule changes by NASCAR and the thick fog covering Talladega Superspeedway has stalled any notion of testing Tuesday morning.

Yet, Michael "Fatback" McSwain is taking in a relaxing game of Hearts on a laptop computer set up inside the garage area at Talladega. McSwain is the crew chief for the Robert Yates Racing No. 28 Texaco-Havoline Ford team.

"I think we'll get on the track, here in a little bit," McSwain said, keeping his eyes on the Hearts game while a jet dryer truck attempted to get the track ready for testing.

The No. 28 team was at Talladega on Tuesday for the first day of a two-day test session at Alabama's famed 2.66-mile tri-oval and was able to get on the track at 12:10.

McSwain and the 28 team will return to NASCAR's Most Competitive Track for the Talladega 500 weekend, April 18-21. Plenty of tickets remain for the Talladega 500 weekend, including a commemorative qualifying day ticket celebrating the 15th Anniversary of Davey Allison's first Winston Cup Series win, which came at Talladega Superspeedway in the No. 28 Texaco-Havoline Ford.

Ricky Rudd, the driver of the No. 28 Ford, is recovering from off-season back surgery and is following doctors orders to stay off the racetrack as much as he can before the season gets under way in Daytona. Veteran driver Andy Hillenburg has stepped up to aid the Robert Yates team with pre-season testing.

While driver-crew chief chemistry is important in Winston Cup Series racing, McSwain said the situation is helped by the fact that the first race of the 2002 season is on a superspeedway. Otherwise it might slow the team's preseason progress.

"If we were testing Martinsville, yeah. Testing Watkins Glen, yeah," McSwain said. "But superspeedways, and some of the bigger tracks, as long as you've got a driver who is capable and has a good feeling for the race car, you're OK." McSwain and Rudd challenged Jeff Gordon for the Winston Cup Championship most of the season, before trailing off at the end. Still, the No. 28 team must be considered a threat to make another strong run in 2002, even with the recent aerodynamic rules changes at superspeedways and NASCAR's one-engine program that has been implemented for 2002.

"Actually, the one engine rule program plays into our hands, because the Yates organization has always had a good engine program," said McSwain. "So it probably plays into our hands more than other teams.

"But if you look at last season, Goodyear started with a whole new tyre program and we were one of the teams that got a hold on that pretty quickly," he said. "So I think we take what we learned last year, hold on and keep trying to be more successful."

The Talladega 500 weekend, April 18-21, marks the return of the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and NASCAR Busch Series to NASCAR's Most Competitive Track. John Deere Qualifying Day is set for April 18 to set the field for the NBS Talladega 300 on April 20. Advance Auto Parts Qualifying Day set for April 19, sets the field for the NWC Talladega 500.