Jimmie Johnson will probably make stock-car history this month by winning a fourth consecutive championship, but his coronation will be the culmination of an anticlimactic NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Johnson has promised that he will race hard in the last three races, even though he does not need to push it.
Johnson leads Mark Martin, the driver in second place, by 184 points going into today's race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. If Martin wins the final three races and accumulates all 585 possible points, Johnson would need to finish 10th in each of those races to win an unprecedented fourth straight Cup points title.
"Finishing 10th isn't as easy as it sounds," Johnson said in a teleconference last week.
Johnson has made it look easy. He has 22 top-10 finishes in 33 races this year. He has finished in the top 10 in all seven Chase for the Sprint Cup races and has won three. He finished second in April at Texas Motor Speedway and fourth two weeks later at Phoenix, which hosts its second race of the season next weekend.
Johnson has turned the Chase into a dud, spoiling several juicy story lines before they had much of a chance to develop.
The 50-year-old Martin took a full-time ride this year with Hendrick Motorsports, Johnson's team, and won four races during the regular season to enter the Chase with the points lead. Juan Pablo Montoya, the 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner and a former Formula One

driver, was in contention until Johnson stormed to a commanding points lead with back-to-back victories in mid-October. "I was one of those like many others from the outside looking in, looking at Jimmie Johnson making it look easy, thinking he was a lucky guy that drove for a great race team," Martin said Friday. "I'm taking that back now. I've seen different, and I'm one of the guys that is standing up saying, 'Hey, he's not getting enough credit.' "
Johnson possibly will carry an insurmountable lead, 161 points or more, into the season's final race Nov. 21 in Homestead, Fla. That has never happened in the Chase's six-year history.
Nationwide Series: Kyle Busch won his fourth consecutive series race, dominating on the 1½-mile, high-banked track in Fort Worth. Friday night, he won his fifth straight trucks series race. He will try for an unprecedented trifecta today in the Sprint Cup race and become the first driver to win all three of NASCAR's national series on the same weekend.