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Martin Truex Jr. (19) and Clint Bowyer (14) lead the field in turn four during a restart of the NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va., Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019.
Martin Truex Jr. (19) and Clint Bowyer (14) lead the field in turn four during a restart of the NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Va., Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019.|Steve Helber | Associated Press
NASCAR

NASCAR: The Eckel Three pick the AAA Texas 500 — with Martin Truex Jr. already in, will Kevin Harvick make the Final Four?

Mark Eckel

AAA Texas 500, Texas Motor Speedway, Ft. Worth, Tx, 3 p.m.

There is plenty of intrigue and no shortage of story lines as NASCAR continues its Round of Eight, Sunday in Fort Worth.

New Jersey native Martin Truex Jr. became the first driver to make it to the Final Four by virtue of his dominating win last week in Martinsville.

Truex’s win was overshadowed, however, by a post-fight tussle between Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano, who early came to blows at the same time Truex was celebrating in Victory Lane.

That leads us to Sunday where Hamlin and Logano, who currently sit second and fourth in the standings, will go at it again with another Final Four berth on the line.

While Truex is in, here’s how the rest of the standings look: Hamlin (+24), Kyle Busch (+17), Logano (+14), Kevin Harvick (-14), Ryan Blaney (-15), Kyle Larson (-24) and Chase Elliott (-44).

The Eckel Three, which as always includes Scott “Tobacco Road’’ Baker and Mike “Left Turn’’ Sweeney, who this week is being known as Mike “Big Easy’’ Sweeney, see the race unfolding this way.

Denny Hamlin (7-1): Two of the three “experts’’ put Hamlin on top. He has three wins here in Texas, including the spring race this season and this race in 2016. He’s in pretty good shape in the standings, but a sixth win of the season would send him to the Final Four.

Kevin Harvick (7-1): He’s won this race in both 2017 and 2018 and earned the pole here Sunday. Right now, he’s the first one out, so he’s going to be going all out for a win or at least a strong run to try to supplant Logano or Busch.

Joey Logano (7-1): While Harvick will be coming after that fourth spot, it’s Logano’s job to hang onto it, or move up in the standings. Of course, a win would send him to the Final Four. He did win here back in 2014, came in third in both 2016 and 2018.

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