The NASCAR Playoffs start at Darlington.
The NASCAR Playoffs start at Darlington.@NASCAR on Twitter

NASCAR Playoffs Sunday: The Eckel 4 pick the Southern 500, their final 4 and the champ – they like Kyle Larson

Southern 500, Darlington, S.C. 6 p.m. TV: NBCSN.

Southern 500, Darlington, S.C. 6 p.m. TV: NBCSN

It’s playoff time.

NASCAR heads to the circuit’s longest-running track in Darlington for the Southern 500 and the first race of the postseason.

Darlington, Richmond (next weekend) and Bristol (in two weeks) compile the first round of the playoffs in which 12 of the 16 playoff drivers will advance to the next round.

The three winners of those races automatically advance, while the four with the lowest point totals will be eliminated.

Las Vegas, Talladega and Charlotte will comprise the three tracks for the round of 12, where again the same rules apply.

In the round of eight the drivers will head to Texas, Kansas and Martinsville where the Final Four will emerge.

This year Cup Championship race will be Nov. 7 in Phoenix.

It all starts Sunday night in Darlington and “The Eckel 4’’, which as always includes Scott “Tobacco Road’’ Baker, Mike “Left Turn’’ Sweeney and Barry “Dr. NASCAR’’ Davis have picks for Sunday, their Final 4 and their Cup Champion.


Kyle Larson (3-1): Three of “The 4’’ picked Larson to win Sunday night and the fourth picked him second. He’s the overwhelming favorite to win this week and to win his first Cup Championship. He’s really rebounded from last year’s suspension rather well.

Joey Logano (14-1): “Left Turn’’ thinks Logano, who has never won in Darlington, but has driven well with fourth fives and seven top 10 finishes, can pull off the upset. Another selector had him second. That’s a pretty good price if L.T. is right.

Kyle Busch (13-2): It’s playoff time so leave out Busch at your own risk. He’s had his share of success in Darlington with a win, six top fives and 13 top 10s in 19 races.

Martin Truex Jr. (5-1): The New Jersey native has two wins to his credit at Darlington and a third would advance him to the round of 12. Don’t bet against him.

Playoff Picks

Mark Eckel: Kyle Busch (7-1), William Byron (12-1), Kyle Larson (5-2), Martin Truex Jr. (8-1) Champion: Martin Truex Jr.

“Tobacco Road’’ Baker: Ryan Blaney (12-1), Chase Elliott (13-2), Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. Champion: Kyle Larson

"Left Turn’’ Sweeney: Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano (12-1) Champion: Kyle Larson

“Dr. NASCAR’’ Davis: Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin (8-1), Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. Champion: Kyle Larson

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