Just three races remain in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, and Jimmy Johnson has all but wrapped up his fourth straight title.
He would be the first driver to achieve this feat in the 61-year history of the championship.
Of course, NASCAR has had its dominating drivers in the past: Hall of Famers Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty became racing legends as they each racked up seven Cup titles over the course of their careers. Jeff Gordon seemed to be on pace to match their record when he won four titles in seven seasons from 1995-2001. Cale Yarborough won three straight championships from 1976-1978.
However, for Johnson to be on the verge of winning four in a row under today's racing rules is difficult to fathom. This is a sport which goes to great lengths to guarantee equality of equipment, and which has beefed up its compliance policies and punishments to ensure a fair playing field (or chassis).
NASCAR also revamped the championship point system in 2004. The Championship Chase came about to hopefully make the end of the season interesting, and the kind of circumstances where one driver is able to cruise to the title without really being forced to race hard down the home stretch of the season.
The Chase gives 12 drivers a legitimate shot at the title, if they are able to be consistent during the regular season, and then peak at the right time to win the championship.
That is exactly what Jimmie Johnson and company have mastered, and now the Lowe's Chevrolet is closing in on its fourth title in six seasons of the Chase.
It seems like Hendrick Motorsports as a whole has found the winning combination in the Chase format, currently holding on to the top three spots in the standings. The team breathed new life into sentimental favorite Mark Martin, coaxing the 50-year-old driver out of retirement and into a multi-year contract. Jeff Gordon, who owns Johnson's 48 car, stands in third place.
At first glance, it seems like a four-peat could be the worst thing that could happen to NASCAR, even though fans don't seem to dislike Johnson the way many detest Kyle Busch, or even booed Jeff Gordon during his championship years. Johnson is generally regarded as one of the good guys.
In this sport that prides itself on parity, it might be nice to see someone else at the head of the table at the NASCAR Awards Ceremony, but records are made to be broken.
It could be argued that the best thing that could happen to the sport of NASCAR would be for the world's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., to make some noise in the Chase, but he seems to be the one Hendrick team still struggling to find the answers.
Kellie Goodman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.