By Jerry Bonkowski
INDIANAPOLIS—As if winning a record-tying fourth Brickyard 400 wasn't enough of a kick in the pants to his 42 other competitors, Jimmie Johnson saved the best—or worst, depending upon your perspective—for after Sunday's race.
With nearly a five-second margin of victory and having led 99 of the race's 160 laps, Johnson was so dominating that his finish gave the impression he's ready to go for a sixth Sprint Cup championship.
"I am," Johnson said without hesitation. "I wish the Chase would start right now. I feel this team is ready, I'm ready, I learned a lot last year from my mistakes last year, I think the team has as well, and I believe I'm stronger and better today than I've ever been in my career and I'm looking forward to this Chase."
Alright, that's it, it's official: Johnson is back in a big way. And if Sunday's performance was what we can expect in the remaining 16 races on the schedule—including the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup playoffs—we might as well concede him that sixth championship now.
That's right, let's not waste time. Let's just get it over with and let everyone go on vacation early.
Oh, by the way, should I mention that every other time Johnson has won the Brickyard 400—2006, 2008 and 2009—he went on to win a Cup championship. (Then again, he also has turned bad performances in the Brickyard 400—39th in 2007 and 22nd in 2010—into Cup titles in those seasons, as well.)
Will history repeat itself? Nothing is ever for certain, but it sure is starting to look that way.
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