It certainly appears Jimmie Johnson is in strong position to win his sixth Sprint Cup Series championship with two races remaining.
The five-time champion has a seven-point advantage over his nearest rival, Brad Keselowski, heading to a track this weekend – Phoenix International Raceway – where he has been very successful.
Yet all may not be what it seems.
Why? History tells us so.
Backtrack to 1995. The late Dale Earnhardt was fresh off his NASCAR-record-tying seventh Cup championship and was in good shape to win an eighth.
A young upstart driver who sometimes rubbed his competitors and fans the wrong way looked to change that. His name was Jeff Gordon.
The previous season Gordon finished eighth in the series standings and had won his first two races of his career. The odds then appeared on Earnhardt’s side.
Down the stretch Gordon outpaced the veteran Earnhardt, racking up seven wins that season to Earnhardt’s five and won his first series championship by 34 points – a very small margin under the points system then in place.
It would be the beginning of an impressive career for Gordon, who has gone on to win four Cup titles and stands at 86 wins and counting. The 1995 title was also the first for team owner Rick Hendrick, who has become one of the most successful owners in the sport’s history.
Keselowski, 28, is just in his third full season in the Cup series. He drives for an organization, Penske Racing, which has never won NASCAR’s biggest prize.
He is brash, outspoken and a talented driver.
Why does he have a chance?
History tells us so.