NASCAR Playoffs Saturday: The Eckel 4 pick Federated Auto Parts 400, like Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch as longshot
Federated Auto Parts 400, Richmond, Va. 7:30 p.m. TV: NBCSN
This is what happened after one week of NASCAR playoffs:
Kyle Busch is currently out of the top 12 to advance, while older brother Kurt Busch is in third place.
Two of the most consistent drivers all through the regular season, Alex Bowman and William Byron, are also outside of the top 12. Aric Almirola, considered a fluke to make the playoffs, and Tyler Reddick, the last driver to qualify, are currently sitting 11th and 12th.
Denny Hamlin, who went through the entire 26-week regular season without a win, won last week’s playoff opener at Darlington and became the first driver to advance to the Round of 12.
Saturday night the circuit hits Richmond where drivers Busch, Bowman and Byron will all be desperate for wins, or at least points to get back into the top 12.
Here is how The Eckel 4, which as always includes Scott “Tobacco Road’’ Baker, Mike “Left Turn’’ Sweeney and Barry “Dr. NASCAR’’ Davis see Saturday night’s race.
Kyle Busch (6-1): You know he’s going to be all out after last week’s disaster, which also cost him a $50,000 fine. Busch has six wins in his career at Richmond and has finished in the top 10 in his last seven races here. All four of “The 4’’ picked Busch, with two of “The 4’’ putting him on top.
Kyle Larson (7-1): The regular-season point champion will be on the pole, which got the attention of “Tobacco Road’’. Larson with a +80 is in great shape to advance to the Round of 12, but a win here would guarantee it. The Doc thinks it will happen.
Denny Hamlin (11-2): It would surprise no one, especially “Left Turn’’, if after going 0-for-26, Hamlin went 2-for-2. Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have won seven of the last 11 races at Richmond. So Busch (see above), Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. (see below) all have a good shot.
Martin Truex Jr. (4-1): Three of “The 4’’ mentioned the New Jersey native, but none picked him to come out on top. He’s been in the top 10 in his last five Richmond races. And after an 0-for-80 start has won five of his last 11 races on a short track. He’s going to be a factor.
Longshot: Kurt Busch (33-1)