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Brad Keselowski, second from right, gives autographs after winning the pole for a NASCAR Monster Energy Cup auto race at Richmond Raceway in Richmond, Va., Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Brad Keselowski, second from right, gives autographs after winning the pole for a NASCAR Monster Energy Cup auto race at Richmond Raceway in Richmond, Va., Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)|Associated Press
NASCAR

NASCAR: After picking 1st, 2nd, 3rd in Las Vegas, the Eckel three pick Hamlin, Busch, Keselowski at the Federated Auto Parts 400 in Richmond

The race goes off Saturday at 7:30 p.m. EDT.

Mark Eckel

Week two of the NASCAR playoffs is in Richmond where the short track could favor certain drivers.

New Jersey native Martin Truex Jr., last week’s winner in Las Vegas, has guaranteed a spot in the final 12, which will be determined after next week’s race in Charlotte.

The four drivers who would currently be eliminated and need a big race Saturday night are (in order) Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and Eric Jones. Aric Almirola and Alex Bowman are 12th and 11th respectively after the first week.

Chevys have dominated at Richmond over the years, with 17 wins, but Toyotas have won three of the last four races here so keep that in mind when making your picks.

Our band of experts, which of course includes Scott “Tobacco Road’’ Baker and Mike “Left Turn’’ Sweeney were all over Las Vegas last week, correctly predicting the top three finishers — Truex, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski.

Here are our selections for Richmond.

Denny Hamlin (6-1): He’s hot, with seven top six finishes in his last seven races and he has three wins in his career at Richmond and 12 top five finishes here. He’s also very good on a short track. He was the top pick of two of “The Eckel Three."

Kyle Busch (3-1): You’re not getting good value, but you might get the winner, at least that was “Tobacco Road’s’’ thinking in putting Busch on top of his list. If he does win, it would be Busch’s seventh career win in Richmond. Like Hamlin, he’ll be in a Toyota.

Brad Keselowski (8-1): Keselowski earned the pole, which means he got the attention of TR. But “Left Turn’’ was also high on Keselowski this week as well. He does not have a lot of recent success here, but does have a Richmond win on his resume.

Kevin Harvick (5-1): “The Closer’’ with a second-place finish last week in Vegas is on his way to the final 12, but would love to win this week. He’s won here three times and has finished in the top five eight of his last 10 races at Richmond. He’ll be in the mix.

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