DOVER, Del. -- Starting with last Sunday's 600-mile race at the Lowe's Motor Speedway, the Nextel Cup Series now is in a stretch of races most drivers consider to be the heart of the schedule.
There are no short tracks or restrictor-plate races in the four-race span, and championship runs generally are born during a swing of races that include Lowe's, Dover International Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Michigan Speedway.
"They are kind of my favorites," said Matt Kenseth.
This Sunday's MBNA 400 Salute to Heroes is at the 1-mile Dover racetrack. Lowe's is a 1.5-mile speedway, while Pocono is 2.5 miles and Michigan is 2 miles.
"Dover is one of those tracks that you can be pretty aggressive with and attack the track pretty good," Kenseth said. "It's always been one of my favorite tracks to go to. We've had a lot of great times there and a lot of bad times there, so it's one of those tracks where if something happens you can tear up a car pretty hard."
A year ago Kenseth turned a 160-point lead after the race at Lowe's into a 223-point blowout after Michigan.
LONG AND WINDING ROAD: The summer stretch has started and that means nearly 12,000 miles of cross-country driving that begins with this week's trip to Dover, Del., followed by runs to Pocono, Pa., Brooklyn, Mich., Sonoma, Calif., Daytona Beach, Fla., and Joliet, Ill. Drivers responsible for hauling the equipment won't go from town to town; they will return to their team's shops in the North Carolina area after each race and start a new trip a day later.
"Believe it or not, the only thing that's really detrimental to the team is a week off," said Eddie Jones, general manager for Ken Schrader's BAM Racing team. "That tends to break our rhythm. Everybody is traveling because they want to travel. If you like to travel, you want to be at the track. That's part of your routine."
PIT STOPS: NASCAR said it will look into Scott Wimmer's conviction of drunken driving. The 28-year-old driver was found guilty Tuesday of driving with nearly twice the legal limit of .08 percent blood-alcohol level following a single-car crash on Jan. 31. ... The National Jockey Club is suing Nextel Cup and IRL Indy Car Series car owner Chip Ganassi for $35 million. The club said it was a partner with Ganassi in the $70 million construction of the Chicago Motor Speedway and that Ganassi has failed to pay his share. ... NASCAR has designated Aug. 20 as "NASCAR Day." The sanctioning body hopes to enlist several corporations that will allow workers to wear the apparel of their favorite NASCAR driver if they make a $5 donation to the Victory Junction Gang Camp for critically ill children.
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