Dover presents an opportunity for Chase Elliott

DOVER, DELAWARE - APRIL 29: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, waits on the grid during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series Würth 400 at Dover International Speedway on April 29, 2023 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy, is the defending winner of Sunday’s Wurth 400. This weekend marks his third race since returning to competition after suffering a broken leg in early March. So far in those starts, he has earned finishes of 10th (at Martinsville, Va.) and 12th (at Talladega, Ala.).

After receiving a waiver to participate in the Playoffs if he qualifies, the 2020 series champion Elliott knows he needs to score a victory to ensure his title run. And Dover has been a particularly good venue for him. He has nine Top-5 finishes in 12 starts, including a pair of wins (2018 and 2022).

“It’s certainly an opportunity,’’ Elliott said of securing that first win of the year on Sunday. “I think when we show up properly any given week can be a good opportunity for us, frankly. Certainly, this has been a good track for us. Does it guarantee tomorrow’s going to go good? No, but I certainly hope so.

“These races, a lot can happen, and a lot can happen out of your control. You’ve got to put it together on the racetrack, on the pit box, on pit road. Everything has to be perfect and that’s a lot to put together. I think it’s a bit unfair to throw that all on one day and bet the house on it. That’s just unrealistic, but I think we can go and have a good run here just like we can go and have a good run next week or the next 15 after that if we show up and do our part.’’

*Last week’s Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway winner, Busch, has three previous victories on Dover’s “Monster Mile” high banks, and having earned two trophies already in 2023 with his new team, Richard Childress Motorsports, the two-time former NASCAR Cup Series champion says there’s definitely an uptick at the organization.

One of the RCR team’s NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers, Austin Hill has a series best three wins and leads the championship standings. There’s been a lot of celebrating for the team in 2023.

“I think morale is high,’’ said Busch, who drives the No. 8 RCR Chevrolet. “The Cup shop has done a tremendous job here early in the season. I think Richard was in victory lane four weeks in a row (counting Xfinity and Cup series wins).

“It was nice to finally get a Cup Series speedway win for me and to have that be a part of RCR with their legacy and history at Talladega was really cool. I know all the guys are pumped up and everybody back at the shop is excited. That’s two wins for us so far and we’re hoping for more obviously.’’