Five things we learned at Charlotte
Anyone else and the eulogy would be begun in haste, or simply picked up again after a few weeks of inactivity.
But this is Jimmie Johnson after all, a driver that has navigated seemingly every possible crag and switchback in winning five consecutive Sprint Cup championships, who just a few weeks ago was assumed done after a comparatively poor start to the Chase for the Championship left him in tenth place after two races. This was Johnson, who if not motivated by the premature dismissal, playfully reveled in debunking it after finishing second at Dover and winning at Kansas to improve to a threatening fourth in points. So moments after Johnson's No. 48 rammed brutally hard into a wall at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, the feeling that a historic era had just ended was not as automatic as would be expected.
Certainly, in finishing 34th and falling from third to eighth in points, from four to 35 behind leader Carl Edwards, Johnson is in an unenviable position with just five races remaining. But anyone else and it might be considered an impossible obstacle. Whether the Johnson era ended against the wall on Saturday night likely won't be fully known for another five weeks. And that speaks volumes about what Johnson has accomplished the last five seasons.
"We just have to keep racing," he said. "That's all there is to it. There are five races left, and a lot can happen in five races."
And now, five things we learned at Charlotte: