Kyle Busch leaves the garage after a NASCAR Cup Series auto race practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019.
Kyle Busch leaves the garage after a NASCAR Cup Series auto race practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. |Luis M. Alvarez | Associated Press

NASCAR: The Eckel 3 pick the Ford EcoBoost 400 where oddsmakers have posted the winner-take-all race as a dead heat — will Kyle Busch win?

Mark Eckel

Ford EcoBoost 400, Homestead, Florida, 3 p.m.

Joe Gibbs might actually be a better NASCAR team owner than he was an NFL head coach and that’s saying something since Gibbs won three Super Bowls with the Washington Redskins.

He also accomplished that with three different quarterbacks — Joe Thiesman, Doug Williams and Mark Rypien — and Sunday in the Championship Race of this NASCAR season Gibbs will have three of the Final Four drivers going for the tile.

New Jersey native Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin are all part of the JGR team, while Kevin Harvick is the only Final Four driver not under the Gibbs’ banner.

"Strength in numbers," Truex told "Seventy-five percent chance the Cup comes back to JGR, which all the employees there deserve — which is huge. Selfishly, I want it to be my team. I think that's where all three of us are.”

Harvick, naturally, disagreed.

“Well, I think that's yet to be determined," Harvick said about being the lone non-JGR driver in the Final 4. "I think, for us, it's very simple. No worries in making the sponsor mad or making another team member mad … It's, 'How do we get Stewart-Haas Racing another championship?’ ’’

Since the elimination format began in 2014, Truex (2017), Busch (2015) and Harvick (2014) have all won titles. This is also the fifth Final 4 appearance for Harvick and Busch and the fourth for Truex.

That leaves Hamlin alone, as the only driver without a title. He’s made one Final 4 appearance in 2014.

“These three … have been the standouts year in and year out,” Hamlin said of his competition. “You see one or two guys get into that Championship 4 here and there. I think it would be most gratifying if we did win because this is by far the best (field) you could put together. It would mean more for that reason.”

And while we’re on the subject of things in threes, here are the selections of the Eckel Three, who by the way are on a three-race win streak.

Martin Truex (3-1): Two of us, Scott “Tobacco Road’’ Baker and myself are going with the Jersey Boy. Truex has the most wins (7) coming into the race and has shown he can do well here with a win in 2017 and a second-place finish in 2017.

Kyle Busch (3-1): Mike “Left Turn’’ Sweeney is our lone wolf going with Busch to end his 21-race drought and find victory lane for the fifth time this year. He was impressive with the fastest practice time Saturday. and finished second and fourth here the past two years.

It should be a great race and a great ending to a great 2019 season.


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