Johnson proven winner
No, no, no and no.
Until Johnson and his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team don't win the championship, it's impossible not to predict them to win it all.
After five consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series titles, the Hendrick team has proved its has mastered the 10-race NASCAR playoff format. And over those five years, it has shown it doesn't matter what kind of roll the team is on coming into the Chase. When it starts, Johnson & Co. know how to turn it on.
The Hendrick Motorsports dynasty will reign supreme once again.
Only it won't be Jimmie Johnson breaking the bubbly. It's going to be his good friend, Jeff Gordon.
At 40 and in his 20th season as a driver, Gordon is rejuvenated and roaring into the 10-race Chase playoffs.
After winning three regular-season races, Gordon is seeded third for the Chase, three points behind Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick. He has 14 top-10 finishes in 26 races.
Johnson is consistently strong again and will be a formidable foe, but come November, it will be Gordon celebrating his fifth Cup title.
Watch Carl Edwards
It would be foolhardy to ever bet against Jimmie Johnson.
Johnson's arsenal is daunting: Top-flight cars from Hendrick Motorsports, an incomparable crew chief, Johnson's superb skills behind the wheel and five years of experience in rising above the pressure of the Chase.
That said, Johnson likely will face his toughest Chase yet. Kyle Busch not only is tied with Kevin Harvick for the lead as the Chase opens, Busch now has the maturity to match his aggressive driving. Johnson's teammate Jeff Gordon is hungry to win a fifth title and his first in a decade.
And then there's Carl Edwards, who might be unstoppable if he starts strong in the early Chase races.
Gordon over Johnson
Jimmie Johnson is in good form, as always in September.
But the feeling here is that the Chase will be a repeat of the finish last week at Atlanta, with a consistently faster Jeff Gordon winning his fifth Cup title just barely to leave Johnson's six pack on ice.
Gordon's paring with crew chief Alan Gustafson has been golden. History does not favor points leaders Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick. Only Tony Stewart (2005) has entered the Chase with the points lead and won the title.