By Jared Turner
With each year, it seems to get harder and harder for a non-playoff driver to win in the final 10 races. If Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff opener at Chicagoland is any indication, expect non-playoff drivers to face a similar uphill battle this time around. Of the top 11 finishers on Sunday afternoon in Joliet, Illinois, 10 were playoff drivers. The only top-10 finisher not in the playoffs was seventh-place Joey Logano, who despite running well, never seriously contended for the win in his No. 22 Team Penske Ford. So, how likely is it that a non-playoff driver will manage to break through and play the role of spoiler in one of the season’s final nine races? Here’s the short answer: It’s not very likely at all.