By Jared Turner
If you don’t think there’s a clear favorite to win the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship as the playoffs are set to begin, then you’re either in denial or simply haven’t been paying much attention this season. Martin Truex Jr. begins the 16-driver playoffs as the No. 1 seed thanks to his 53 playoff points amassed for race wins and stage wins during the regular season. The No. 2 seed, Kyle Larson, has 33 playoff points — four more than third-place Kyle Busch. But the points drop-off is steep from there, which is appropriate when considering that Truex has been the season’s best driver by a mile, with Larson and Busch basically neck and neck for the No. 2 spot. While anything is possible in the playoffs, particularly playoffs where a champion is crowned based on the outcome of a one-race, winner-take-all finale, there’s no mistaking the real heavyweights in the room.