Originally created 06/03/04

Crucial stretch of races arrives



DOVER, Del. - Starting with last Sunday's 600-mile race at 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 run, and championship runs generally are born during a swing of races that include Lowe's, Dover International Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Michigan International Speedway.

"They are kind of my favorites," said defending series champion Matt Kenseth.

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.

"This is the strong part of our program," Kenseth said. "The motors have been great and our cars have been better balanced aero-wise lately than when we started off the year, so I feel comfortable. All of the tracks are real good tracks for us and for Roush Racing, so this is a stretch I look forward to because they're all good tracks for us."

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 after a single-car crash on Jan. 31. He was given a 60-day suspended sentence, 24 hours of community service, $100 in court costs and he must forfeit his North Carolina driver's license. NASCAR doesn't require a valid driver's license to compete on the Nextel Cup Series. ... 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 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.