NASCAR Sunday Round of 8: The Eckel 4 pick the Autotrader Echo Park Automotive 500 from Forth Worth, Texas
Autotrader Echo Park Automotive 500, Fort Worth, Texas, 2 p.m. TV: NBC
Is history more important than being hot at the right time?
The Round of Eight in the quest for the NASCAR Cup Championship begins Sunday in Texas with the Autotrader Echo Park 500 and there are mixed feelings around the favorite in the race, Kyle Larson.
Larson, the regular-season point champion, will be on the pole Sunday and has been installed as the 3-1 favorite to win and advance to the Final 4.
The fact that Larson had the best regular season of any driver and has since won two playoff races, including last week in Charlotte speaks for how well he has driven and how well he is driving.
History, however, is not on Larson’s side. He’s 0-for-13 in Texas and has crashed in three of his last five races there. Three of “The Eckel 4’’ think Larson ends his Texas drought Sunday and becomes the first driver to move on to the championship race in three weeks. The only Larson dissenter is the guy who’s name is on top of the story.
Here’s how “The 4’’, which as always includes Scott “Tobacco Road’’ Baker, Mike “Left Turn’’ Sweeney and Barry “Dr. NASCAR’’ Davis see Sunday’s race.
Kyle Larson (3-1): “Tobacco Road’’ and the Dr. both think Larson wins and “Left Turn’’ has him right there as well. He does have two wins on 1.5 mile tracks this year, but Texas might just be his Waterloo. At short odds be careful.
Denny Hamlin (6-1): Hamlin went all regular season without a win and has since won twice in the playoffs. In the six playoff races this far he’s yet to finish out of the top 10 and has four top fives. He’s hot and oh yeah he’s won three times in Texas.
Kyle Busch (7-1): Busch has the most wins in Texas, with four, including last year’s playoff race here. He’s also been good on 1.5 mile tracks this season. “Left Turn’’ thinks “Rowdy’’ will be the first driver to move on to the Final 4.
Ryan Blaney (9-1): Blaney, in 12 starts, has never won in Texas, but in his last seven races here he’s been in the top eight six times. He finished fourth here a year ago and second in 2018. At good odds he’s worth a long look.