The NASCAR Cup Series will feature a markedly different style of door-to-door competition this week as it moves to Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway for Sunday‘s Würth 400 (2 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) — the one-mile concrete Dover track‘s brand of tight racing is quite different from the 2.6-mile Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway where the series raced last weekend.
Kyle Busch — a three-time Dover winner — shows up as one of only three drivers to have doubled their 2023 trophy total (two wins) this season, having bested the field on the Talladega high banks last Sunday in one of the most action-packed races of the season, featuring 57 lead changes.
Busch is one of eight active drivers to have won at Dover‘s “Monster Mile” previously and his three-wins there ties him with Kevin Harvick and Dover‘s “hometown favorite” Martin Truex Jr. as most among active drivers.
Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski and Alex Bowman have also won at the track.
In fact, there have been nine different winners in the past 10 Dover races; defending race winner, Hendrick Motorsports‘ Elliott the only repeat winner in that time (2018 and 2022). The season mirrors that competitive diversity too. Through the opening 10 races there have been seven different winners from six different race organizations.
This will be the third week back behind the wheel for Elliott after he missed six weeks of competition with a broken leg (suffered in an off-day snowboarding accident). The 2020 series champion is currently ranked 31st in the standings and needs to score a win to secure his Playoff eligibility for this year. Dover is certainly a good opportunity for Elliott, who earned his first win of the 2022 season there and would love to do the same on Sunday. He has an amazing nine top-five finishes in 12 starts at the track.
Elliott‘s average finish (9.750) is second only to his Hendrick teammate Kyle Larson‘s 6.929 average at the Monster Mile. Larson won the 2019 Dover race and he and Elliott are the only two competitors with average finishes better than 10th.
Of note, their Hendrick Motorsports‘ teammate Bowman, will not be competing this weekend. He was injured driving in a sprint car race this week and is expected to miss at least three weeks. NASCAR Xfinity Series regular — and defending Xfinity Series Dover race winner, JR Motorsports driver Josh Berry, will pull double-duty — again – and drive Bowman‘s No. 48 Chevrolet in his absence. Berry just filled in for Elliott during the former series champ‘s own medical situation.
Two of those boasting outstanding Dover resumes are also two of the most motivated this weekend. Harvick, who will be retiring from NASCAR at the end of the season, is hoping to snap a 22-race winless streak in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford and has been fast this season with top-10 finishes in half the 10 races to date. His last win at Dover was in the Spring of 2018. His 1,666 laps led total at Dover is the most among active drivers and he‘s finished top-10 in 23 of his 42 previous starts at The Monster Mile.
“Dover is one of those race tracks where if we don‘t win, we feel like we‘ve let everybody down,” Harvick said. “It‘s been a great race track for us and we‘ve had some really dumb luck there with lug nuts and valve stems, but outside of those few races, it‘s been a very successful racetrack for us. Dover is just one of those grind-it-out-type of races.”
Truex is hoping some “hometown” magic may help him. The New Jersey-native and 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion considers Dover his home track and fittingly, he earned his first career series victory there in 2007.
His last Dover win in his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota came in 2019 when he led more than 100 laps — something he‘s done five times at Dover in his career. Truex won the non-points paying Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum to open the 2023 season and scored his first top-five (third place) at Martinsville two weeks ago. His last points-paying victory came at Richmond, Va. on Sept. 11, 2021.
Practice for the Würth 400 is Saturday at 10:30 a.m. on FS2 with Busch Light Pole Qualifying at 11 a.m. on FS1. The last pole-winner to hoist a Dover trophy was the track‘s all-time winningest competitor, Jimmie Johnson in 2010.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to Dover Motor Speedway for Saturday‘s A-GAME 200 (1:30 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) with a tightly bunched group of drivers atop the standings.
Austin Hill‘s three victories early in the season has given the Richard Childress Racing driver a slim 4-point edge over two-race winner John Hunter Nemechek. Kaulig Racing rookie Chandler Smith (-19), Stewart-Haas Racing‘s Riley Herbst (-32) and defending race winner, JR Motorsports‘ Josh Berry (-36) are currently the top-five drivers in the title run.
Three competitors — Berry, his JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier and Stewart-Haas Racing‘s Cole Custer — have hoisted Dover trophies before. The two-time winner Allgaier is the only multiple winner in this week‘s field and his 12 top-10s ties him with Kyle Busch for most all-time. The veteran nearly collected a third trophy the last time the series visited the track — his No. 7 JRM Chevrolet leading a race high 67 of the 200 laps and finishing a slight .604-seconds behind his teammate Berry.
Custer also possesses a strong resume at Dover with top-10 finishes in five of his six Xfinity Series starts at the track. He has a pair of top-10s in four NASCAR Cup Series starts as well.
Plus, Custer has extra incentive this weekend having collected last week‘s $100,000 Dash 4 Cash prize at Talladega Superspeedway and hoping to make it two-in-a-row. Saturday marks the final installment of the Dash 4 Cash incentive program from Xfinity with another $100,000 check ready to be paid to the top finisher among Custer, last week‘s race winner Jordan Anderson Racing‘s Jeb Burton, Richard Childress Racing‘s Sheldon Creed and Big Machine Racing‘s Parker Kligerman.
They all bring strong cases to the contest this week after last Saturday‘s dramatic Talladega race, where Burton earned his second career victory and Creed finished runner-up. Not only is this Custer‘s return to Xfinity Series competition at Dover, but it will mark the first Dover Xfinity race for Kligerman since 2013. He does have a top-10 in three previous series starts.
After winning three of the first five races, the Richard Childress Racing driver Hill has only one top-10 (ninth place at Richmond) in the four races since. His closest challenger in the championship — Nemechek — the driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has three top-10s in six previous Dover starts but has finished 32nd and 37th in his last two races there.
Practice for Saturday‘s race is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. on Friday afternoon followed immediately by qualifying at 3:35 p.m. – broadcast on FS1.
— NASCAR Wire Service —