* Monster Mile to test drivers' endurance * Kasey Kahne looks to continue momentum, and reverse Dover fortunes DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 30, 2006) -- Fresh off the heels of two weeks of racing in what could be considered most drivers'...
* Monster Mile to test drivers' endurance
* Kasey Kahne looks to continue momentum, and reverse Dover fortunes
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 30, 2006) -- Fresh off the heels of two weeks of racing in what could be considered most drivers' "backyard," the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series ventures to the Northeast for the first time this season, with the running of the Neighborhood Excellence 400 presented by Bank of America, Sunday, June 4 at Dover International Speedway (FX TV, 1:30 p.m.).
The infamous "Monster Mile's" high-banked (24 degrees in the corners) oval is challenging for the drivers, both from a physical and mental standpoint. The concrete surface can be a tough customer on any given racing weekend, and the track has proven to be an endurance test for competitors over the years. Coming off a 600-mile race last Sunday at Lowe's Motor Speedway, this Sunday's 400-miler at Dover, while shorter in length, should be just as taxing on the drivers.
"Dover is certainly a very demanding track," said Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet. "We're coming off of a 600-mile race (Coca-Cola 600) and while the race Sunday is 200 miles shorter, it can still take a toll on the driver because of the number of laps (400) you're taking. I know from my perspective, I like to see a lot of green flag racing at a place like Dover."
Kasey Kahne's (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) gutsy victory Sunday is the signature win of his young career and may be the one that propels his performance to another level. Not only was it his third win of the year, tying him with points leader Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) in that category, it showed he could compete with and defeat the best the sport has to offer.
"Evernham Motorsports has had success at Dover. Jeremy (Mayfield, Kahne's teammate) has had fast cars there. He has the track qualifying record. He's had three top-10 finishes in the last four races. Kenny (Francis, the No. 9 team director who was with Mayfield's No. 19 team previously) likes Dover and has a great understanding what the track demands on the setup. For a brief time, it appeared I might get my first Nextel Cup victory at Dover back in 2004, my rookie season. I was leading late in the race, but got in some oil between turns three and four and slid into the wall. We had a good car there last fall, starting second, but didn't get the finish we expected."
Kahne hopes to turn the tables on his past performances at Dover, with last year's finish of 16th in September the best showing in four career starts there. Kahne's first three races at Dover ended in DNFs. His average finishing position at Dover is 28.5. Even though he has struggled in the past at this race track, he remains optimistic about having success there.
"Although the results certainly don't reflect it, we've had some good runs at Dover," said Kahne. "We just haven't maintained that performance through the whole race. It's a very tough track on the driver and equipment. That race definitely tests your equipment."
Sunday's win for Kahne was his first outside the pole, as his previous three career victories (Richmond, 2005; Atlanta, 2006; and Texas, 2006) all came when he was sitting on the pole. The third-year NASCAR NEXTEL Cup driver moved up two spots to sixth in this week's championship point standings and sports seven top-10 finishes through the first 12 starts of the season.