This all appears to be building up to something. Perhaps something grand.
The volume of their exploits seems to leave historical footnotes and the stuff of Hall of Fame busts in Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson's collective wake anyway. And then they go out and put on a show like in the final laps of the rain-delayed Sprint Cup race on Tuesday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. As they contested the lead in the final laps, Gordon was attempting to win his 85th race and move into third place alone among NASCAR's all time winners. Johnson was continuing to find his stride two weeks away from the Chase for the Championship, the 10-race playoff system he has lorded over, winning a record five consecutive titles. Gordon, attempting at age 40 to win his fifth title, but first in a decade, captured the historic victory on Tuesday. Johnson assumed the points lead. This doesn't seem over yet. Not even close.
"I think that we're having a lot of fun right now," Gordon said. "The race cars are awesome. And we've got a lot of momentum. So we can't wait to get to next week, Richmond, as well as get this Chase started."
Five things we learned (two days later than expected) at Atlanta:
"You can't race around the jackass," said Bowyer. "You never can. Anybody in this sport knows what you're up against when the [No.] 42 comes up. He divebombs the starts and bullies his way up in there, and before you know it, he's in the way and wrecking with somebody.
"Unfortunately, I was victim this week. It's just a shame. We're out here racing for a spot in the Chase. He's racing for nothing, you know? I'm tired of it. Everybody in the garage area fights him. He's just an idiot."
"As far as I'm concerned I'm probably still tied with Bobby," Gordon said. "And as long as it's in Bobby's head that we are tied, then that's still a great thing."