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Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)|Associated Press
NASCAR

NASCAR Playoffs: At Talladega, the Eckel 3 like Logano, Keselowski and Harvick to light up the track

The 1000 bulbs.com 500 starts Sunday at 2 p.m. EDT.

Mark Eckel

1000 bulbs.com 500, Talladega Speedway, Lincoln, Alabama, 2 p.m.

Race two of the Round of 12 is Sunday at the legendary Talladega Speedway.

Kyle Larson’s win last week in Dover (called by the Eckel Three, along with second-place finisher Martin Truex Jr.) vaulted him to the top of the playoff board.

Will he stay on top or will another driver supplant him?

The current top 8 are Larson, Truex, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, the surprising Alex Bowman and William Byron.

On the outside, with two races to go before elimination are depending champ Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, who will drive for the 500th time, Sunday, Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney.

Bowman was nearly eliminated in the first round of the playoffs two weeks ago, but used a second-place finish in Charlotte to make it to the Round of 12 by just five points.

Last week he finished third at Dover and now has a 17-point cushion in the standings

“I can’t sit here and say that I enjoy the high-pressure situations and that they make me feel good,” Bowman told NASCAR.com Friday. “But, for some reason, I tend to thrive in those high-pressure situations. I just try to use it to my advantage as much as I can.”

The same can be said for the Eckel Three, which as always includes Scott “Tobacco Road’’ Baker and Mike “Left Turn’’ Sweeney.

Here are Sunday’s selections and for the first time all year all three selectors had the same drivers 1-2.

Joey Logano (8-1): The defending Cup champion currently sits 9th, which means he wouldn’t make it to the Final 8. That will change and a win Sunday at a track where he’s won three times would assure him of advancing. After his win in this race in 2016, he finished fourth in 2017 and fifth last year. So don’t bet against him.

Brad Keselowski (10-1): Keselowski sits in 6th place, but he hasn’t wrapped up a spot just yet. Look for him to achieve that Sunday at a place where he has won five times, including this race in 2017.

Kevin Harvick (14-1): Harvick last won here in 2010 and hasn’t finished in the top five the past three years in the fall race. He currently sits in 5th place and needs a good showing to assure he advances. When he needs it, he generally gets it.

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