While no one is saying Kevin Harvick can't come from behind and win his first Sprint Cup championship at Homestead on Sunday, the odds aren't with him.
Even if he shows up and wins the race, it's unlikely he'll be able to gain enough points on both Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson to claim the title unless each driver ahead of him in the point standings has an off-day.
And if you think about it, that's a shame.
Though Harvick makes himself difficult to like at times, his story this year has been amazing – and shouldn't be forgotten if someone else walks away with the trophy.
It wasn't that long ago – just one year – that Harvick and the rest of Richard Childress Racing suffered through a miserable season.
Harvick finished 19th in points (the second-worst performance of his career) and was able to record just nine top-10 finishes. His average finish was 19.9 – unacceptable for a driver who had shown he was capable of much more.
A year later, Harvick's team has been remarkably consistent – and consistently good. The 29 team's turnaround not only rivals some of the great comeback stories of all time, but it's one of the most consistent seasons in recent times.
Harvick led the points almost the entire season up until the start of the Chase and raised his game even more as the season progressed, often mounting stellar performances at tracks where he was historically mediocre.
He has 25 top-10 finishes this season – a whopping 16 more than last year – and has upped his average finish a remarkable 11 spots to 8.8.
In many of the pre-Chase format seasons, Harvick would have won the championship weeks ago (under the "old" system, he's up on Johnson by nearly 300 points).
While we're not debating the validity of the Chase format, it's worth noting that Harvick's overall season ranks among the best in memory.
Remember Matt Kenseth's 2003 season, which many point to as the model of consistency? That year, Kenseth had 25 top-10 finishes, 11 top-fives and one win. He scored 5,022 points.
As of now, Harvick has already matched Kenseth's 2003 totals in top-10s and has four more top-fives, two more wins and – with one race still to go – 87 more points.
If Harvick has another solid day at Homestead, his 2010 season could out-point all but Jeff Gordon's amazing 2007 season (30 top-10s) in the Chase era. Even Carl Edwards' 2008 campaign is within Harvick's sights.
That's a feat worth remembering, especially for a driver who was all but forgotten last year.
In spite of the points reset after Richmond that favors a shorter run, the Chase has occasionally awarded the title to the season's most consistent driver.
If Harvick comes up short of the title on Sunday, we won't be able to say that about 2010.