To hear it now, you would have thought every NASCAR reporter wrote a story headlined, "Jimmie Johnson Is A Washed-Up, Over-The-Hill Driver With No Chance Of Winning Sixth Consecutive Title" after the second Chase race.
In that race, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Johnson had an off-day and fell to 10th in the points – 29 behind the leaders.
At the time, the NASCAR media mentioned Johnson was in his worst Chase position ever (which was a fact), but very few declared him out of the Chase.
But over the last two weeks, as Johnson has showed once again why he's a five-time champion, the media has participated in perpetuating a myth – that everyone thought Johnson was out of it.
It's bizarre. The very reporters who said Johnson was still a contender after New Hampshire are referencing a storyline about how the majority doubted him.
That's simply untrue. Let's look back at what some of the NASCAR media regulars said in the aftermath of the New Hampshire race:
"To say Johnson is out of it would be naïve." – Jay Hart, Yahoo.com
"There's some compelling evidence to the argument that Johnson is in deep trouble after only two weeks. Do so, though, at your own risk because counting out Johnson is about the dumbest thing his rivals could possibly do right now." – Jenna Fryer, The Associated Press
"Eight races remain, and I have no idea what will happen. But here's what I'd like to: ... Johnson avoids trouble, and Kurt Busch, and wins two of the remaining eight races and his sixth straight championship. Fans have no choice but to acknowledge the truth: Johnson is the greatest driver of all time." – Tom Sorenson, Charlotte Observer
"The burning question inside the Sprint Cup garage at Dover is whether Jimmie Johnson's run of five straight championships is over. Let me answer: No." – David Newton, ESPN.com
"Few would be surprised if Jimmie Johnson's march to a sixth straight Sprint Cup championship – a trip made difficult by mediocre runs in the first two Chase races – begins this week at Dover International Speedway." – Mike Hembree, Speed.com
"So Jimmie Johnson is suddenly in a deep hole in the NASCAR championship? Gimme a break. The guy can rip off four straight wins in a heartbeat. And none of his rivals has shown enough clout yet to put Five-Time down for the count, not by a long-shot." – Mike Mulhern, MikeMulhern.net
"Johnson has come back from adversity before and he could do it again. Don't count him out yet." – Ben White, MotorsportsUnplugged.com
"So before you stick a fork in the five-time defending champion...you might want to remember that this isn't the first time the No. 48 team has faced playoff adversity. Taking a little trip down memory lane just may help freshen the memories of the doubters who are certain that this is the year Johnson's dynasty crumbles." – Mike Neff, AthlonSports.com
You get the point. The majority of the NASCAR media was doing anything but counting Johnson out of the Chase. It was quite the opposite – most of them insisted Johnson still had a chance.
Over the past two weeks, though, the myth that everyone believed Johnson was finished has gained ground.
– Johnson came into the Dover media center after finishing second and asked sarcastically, "Are we out of it? Last week I was considered done." Really? By who?
– Johnson then fielded questions at the Kansas race such as, "Has the team fed off of the fact that so many people had counted you guys out after the first two races?" Who?
– Johnson responded to a post-race question about the "naysayers" on Sunday by saying he doesn't spend time "watching and reading all the headlines" and added, "I've known in my heart the speed we've had as a race team."
As it turns out, so has everyone else.