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Denny Hamlin signs autographs during practice for Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Denny Hamlin signs autographs during practice for Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)|Associated Press
NASCAR

NASCAR Playoffs Round of 12: The Eckel 3 pick the Drydene 400 at Dover's 'Monster Mile' and like Truex, Harvick, Elliott and more

Race time is 2:30 pm EDT Sunday.

Mark Eckel

Drydene 400, Dover International Speedway, Dover, Delaware, 2:30 p.m.

NASCAR’s Round of 12 starts Sunday at Dover’s “Monster Mile’’.

Four drivers were eliminated from the Cup after last week's race in Charlotte leaving these dozen going for the prize: Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, last year’s champ Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman, Ryan Blaney, William Byron and Clint Bowyer. In two weeks that field will be trimmed to eight.

Before we give you the picks for Sunday’s race (and we’ve been red hot) here are a few notes surrounding the race.

Hamlin will make his 500th career start, Sunday. Only two drivers have ever won making that milestone start — Richard Petty in 1970 at Trenton Speedway and Matt Kenseth in 2013 at New Hampshire.

Petty was also the first winner of this race in Dover back in 1971. “The King’’ went on to win three of the first five races here.

Chevrolet has been the dominant car at Dover with 20 overall wins, including four of the past six races.

Truex, with his two wins in the first round of the playoffs,. leads all drivers with six wins this season, two more than Busch and Hamlin.

Busch and Hamlin are tied for top five finishes with 14, two more than Truex and Keselowski.

Here are Sunday’s selections from The Eckel Three, which as always includes Scott “Tobacco Road’’ Baker and Mike “Left Turn’’ Sweeney. We’re providing a top 5 this week.

Martin Truex Jr. (4-1) — The New Jersey native is riding as well as he did when he won the title two years ago and his success at Dover (3 wins, 5 top 4s is unmatched).

Kyle Larson (6-1) — He’s registered five top 5s and seven top 10s at Dover, so he knows the rack rather well. Starting in the No. 2 spot, “Left Turn’’ Sweeney feels he can win.

Kevin Harvick (6-1) — He’s won at Dover twice and hasn’t finished worse than sixth in his past five races, so he also comes in on a roll.

Denny Hamlin (7-1) — He’s on the pole so, of course, that got “Tobacco Road’’ Baker’s attention. Could he make No. 500, special?

Chase Elliott (7-1) — He won here last year. He won in Charlotte last week. His average finish at Dover is 4.4. I’m not leaving him out.

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