By Jared Turner
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs are historically a time when some drivers and teams who’ve enjoyed minimal success in the regular season come to life and turn up the proverbial heat, so to speak. Will it happen again this year? The results from the playoff opener at Chicagoland suggest it just might. While Chicagoland winner Martin Truex Jr.’s race victory came as no surprise, the drivers who finished second and third, respectively — Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick — had one of their better performances in recent memory. In fact, Chicagoland matched Elliott’s best finish of the season. So, do Sunday’s results mean Elliott and Harvick, who combined for just a single win during the regular season, are suddenly poised for a strong overall playoff run? Of course they don’t. Top-three finishes are, however, not a bad way to begin the final 10-race, season-ending stretch from which the champion is crowned.