I used to look at this stretch from the Coke 600 to the Brickyard as NASCAR's equivalent of the PGA Tour's Moving Day.  In golf, that's the Saturday round, when you put yourself in position to go for the tournament win.

But, with the new championship format, I'm not so sure that applies anymore. 

Think about it.  If one win gets you into the title hunt; that could come as late as early September.  Once you're in, it's just a matter of hitting a roll.  Look at Jimmie Johnson last year.  After watching him struggle through this three-month stretch, very few of us saw him as a title contender.

I know there are folks who don't like the playoffs, but, if you're Joe Gibbs Racing, you have to love it.  Still no wins in points paying races, but you've got to believe, at least, two of his cars will still be factors come playoff time.

And how about Brad Keselowski.  He has a couple of wins; but the back-to-back bad breaks at Charlotte and Dover would have left him with an extremely difficult hill to climb.  Now?  The season re-sets at Chicagoland.

The best thing this stretch of races has going for it is the wide variety of tracks.  That leads to great drama.  But, it is no longer a crucial stretch for championship hopefuls.