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April 27, 2024

What to Watch: Ball is in both Kyle Busch, Ford’s court to land first 2024 win

Würth 400

(⏰ Sunday, 2 p.m. ET | FS1 | PRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Weekend schedule | TV schedule | Weather tracker | NASCAR 101

Location: Dover, Delaware
Track length: 1 mile
Cup Series race purse: $7,992,801
Race distance: 400 laps | 400 miles
Stages: 120 | 250 | 400

Starting lineup: Kyle Busch to lead field to green
Pit stall assignments:
See where drivers will pit
Defending winner:
Martin Truex Jr.,

Key things to watch

Saturday sessions

In a surprise based on season trends so far, Kyle Busch nabbed his first pole of 2024 in qualifying. Putting down a hot lap of 162.191 mph, it’s the first time the driver of the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet has started inside the top 10 on a non-drafting track this season. Ryan Blaney joins Busch on the front row Sunday after a 161.951 mph circuit around the concrete oval. William Byron, Tyler Reddick and Noah Gragson made up the top five in the starting lineup.

Blaney, the defending Cup Series champ, had a blazing Saturday, tallying the fastest lap in practice at 159.468 mph. Reddick, Byron, Chase Briscoe and Jimmie Johnson all landed inside the top five off the hauler. However, Johnson’s fast practice lap did not translate to qualifying as the 11-time Dover winner will start 27th. | Full Saturday recap

Big story line

Who can get Ford back into Victory Lane?

Saturday left optimism for the Blue Ovals as Blaney was fastest in Dover practice and put his No. 12 Team Penske Ford on the front row alongside polesitter Kyle Busch. In total, four Fords are starting inside the top 10 Sunday afternoon as Noah Gragson (fifth), Chase Briscoe (seventh) and Michael McDowell (eighth) all start up front.

Through 10 races, the positives on the stat sheet are few and far between for the automaker. Not a single Ford driver has reached the 200 laps led mark — although Joey Logano just needs one more lap to reach that mark.

On non-drafting tracks this year, only the two-time Cup champ has led over 40 laps combined with 105 circuits out front. Blaney is the next highest at 31 laps led away from Daytona, Atlanta and Talladega.

Larson, who leads the Cup field with 531 laps led this season, has logged more laps in first place than the top-five Ford lap leaders combined (505).

But with Dover falling in the category of tracks a mile or less, it will be one of Ford’s best opportunities to win as they have landed at least one blue oval in the top five at Phoenix, Bristol, Richmond and Martinsville.

History tells us…

The last six Dover races have been won by six different drivers. In a bit of an oddity, the starting positions of winners across that span were either inside the top five or outside the top 15 and victories were split evenly in those circumstances.

Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing have tamed the Monster Mile over the last 11 races, grabbing the checkered flag in eight of those events.

He may not be the betting favorite to win, but watch out for…

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. It’s been a trying 2024 campaign so far for the No. 47 JTG Daugherty team but after a top-five run at Talladega, the 12-year veteran has strong momentum heading to a track where he scored a runner-up finish in 2022. Stenhouse is quite a ways down the oddsboard, sitting at 100-1 before cars hit the track Saturday for practice and qualifying.

A driver that’s further up the betting favorites is Buescher. At 40-1 (updated Sunday), he and his RFK teammate and co-owner Brad Keselowski are among the best chances to nab Ford’s first victory of 2024. Both RFK cars finished inside the top 10 last season.| Dover odds

Speed reads

Our biggest pieces of the week — get covered for race day from all angles.

– Turning Point: Trends from Talladega, arriving in Dover | Read article
– Family mindset:
Third generation of Wood family takes co-ownership of iconic racing team | Read article
– Jones out Sunday: Corey Heim to pilot No. 43 Legacy Motor Club Toyota | Read article
– The Field of 16: Last four in, first four out for Cup Series Playoffs | Latest projections
– ‘Timing was right’: Matt Kenseth settling into role at Legacy Motor Club | Read article
– Returning home:
Ryan Truex returns to Dover as defending Xfinity Series winner | Read article
– Dash 4 Cash finale:
Xfinity Series’ four-race initiative wraps up at Dover | Program overview
– Through the years at Dover:
Take a trip through legendary moments | Photo gallery
– NASCAR Classics: Picks to click from our Dover video archives | Read article
– 36 for 36:
NASCAR survivor pool picks for Dover | Read article
– Fearless prediction:
Racing Insights projects Sunday’s final race results | Read article
– Fantasy Fastlane:
Lineup pointers for Dover | Sleepers, drivers to avoid
– Paint Scheme Preview:
Xfinity, Cup colors set to shine at Monster Mile | Pick your favorite
– Power Rankings:
Can Bowman get all four Hendrick cars in playoffs? | Latest driver rankings

Fast facts

Race-relevant statistics, brought to you by the experts at Racing Insights.

– The race winner has led at least 68 laps in each of the last seven races.
– Over the last 28 races at Dover, only six winners have been younger than 32 years old.
– The stages and race win have been swept three times in track history. Kevin Harvick in 2018 and 2020, and Denny Hamlin in 2020.