Something both extraordinary and perfectly ordinary for the last five years happened during NASCAR's last two races. Jimmie Johnson won back-to-back and erased all questions about his team's ability.
He thrust himself out of a supposed slump with his first victory on Infineon Raceway's road course and another triumph last weekend in Loudon, N.H.
Just like that, Johnson has five victories and is tied with Denny Hamlin for the Chase bonus-point lead. Once again Johnson, even though he doesn't lead the points standings, is the favorite in the Sprint Cup series.
Did you think it was over? Did you think a few weeks of misfortune and five consecutive double-digit finishes spelled doom for the four-time defending champion No. 48 team?
It wasn't a trend or a cause for concern, as written nearly one month ago here in the thick of the slump.
It was simply the ebb and flow of a championship season. This team has had four seasons of such variance, often with stretches during which some wonder if they had lost it or what is wrong.
What Johnson has done every time is answer resoundingly and simply with his driving that nothing is wrong.
Johnson was already on his way to recovery, if you can call it that, before the back-to-back victories. He finished fifth at Pocono and sixth at Michigan.
But don't tell Johnson he's back.
"I don't think we really went anywhere," he said after winning in Loudon.
The No. 48 team will win championships until crew chief Chad Knaus' stress-induced ulcers force him to retire.
"Have we caught the Gibbs cars?" Knaus said. "I don't know that we have ever lost touch with them. Are we trying to improve our product? Absolutely."
Forgive me for leapfrogging Kevin Harvick.
Sure, Harvick leads the points standings and has for most of the season. But we have seen repeatedly that pre-Chase success means little. Harvick can talk all he wants about consistency being important.
But that's only part of the truth. Making the Chase is the first matter of importance; consistency — once in — is the second.
And those bonus points matter.
"I would rather have the 30 points than not, but if you look at Texas last year, we lost a hundred points (during the Chase)," Johnson said. "This year we have had a couple of 30th-place finishes, (and) you quickly lose 100 points. It's nice. We'll take them. It gives the team a lot of confidence. It puts us in a prime position going into the Chase."