As soon as Brad Keselowski crossed the finish line of Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the talk grew even louder.
Keselowski, NASCAR's hottest driver, had suddenly become one of the favorites to win a championship. Out of nowhere.
The conventional wisdom was that Keselowski, with three wins on the season and four top-three finishes in four weeks, was now not only a threat to make the Chase, but win it.
I don't blame anyone for feeling that way. It's a natural instinct to take what's happening before our eyes and project it into a bigger picture.
But let's not get ahead of ourselves, please.
Keselowski will not win the Sprint Cup Series championship this season.
Four incredible weeks does not equal 10 consistently good weeks, and there's no evidence Keselowski's team can sustain its remarkable run over the long haul.
NASCAR is a sport of cycles; teams get hot for a period of time, then cool off. Drivers are well-prepared for the highs and lows of racing, and they know the streaks – both good and bad – don't last forever.
Keselowski's streak won't, either. And there's nothing wrong with that.
Here's the issue, though: If Keselowski is suddenly proclaimed as a championship favorite, it will be a letdown and a disappointment when he inevitably doesn't win it this year.
That would be a true shame. So instead of taking Keselowski's current success and trying to guess what it means for the long run, let's appreciate the present and enjoy what's taking place right now.
Just 26 days ago, Keselowski was testing his Penske Racing car at Road Atlanta when he slammed head-first into a poor excuse for a protective barrier. The impact was tremendous, and Keselowski had to be airlifted to a local hospital.
His left ankle was fractured and it swelled to the size of a grapefruit – a rotted, purple grapefruit. His back didn't have the same outward signs of injury, but it hurt like hell.
Four days later, Keselowski was standing in Victory Lane after a grueling 500-mile race at Pocono. That accomplishment alone would be enough to be its own chapter in the Brad Keselowski career retrospective DVD someday.
But then it got even better. Keselowski finished second to Marcos Ambrose at Watkins Glen the next week – a place way more difficult on an injury than Pocono – and followed that up with a third-place drive at Michigan.
Think about that for a moment: Three top-three finishes in three weeks, all after an injury so painful most of us don't even care to imagine how bad it would feel.
Before Pocono, Keselowski only had two top-five finishes the entire season. Then he messed up his ankle and back and reeled off three podium results in a row.
Seriously? Someone get Disney on the phone, STAT!
Even if Keselowski's August was featured in a movie, though, it would seem hard to believe. Keselowski completely bucked history – both his own and NASCAR's – to catch fire in the middle of the season. When's the last time you can remember a mid-pack driver suddenly becoming a frontrunner so quickly? It just doesn't happen.
And then came Saturday. As if everything before last weekend wasn't enough, Keselowski went to Victory Lane at freakin' Bristol in one of NASCAR's most prestigious races.
Four weeks, four phenomenal runs. Some drivers have breakout seasons; Keselowski had a breakout month.
The next question, of course, is 'How long can he keep it up?' And while a championship run would be a story to make even Cinderella jealous, the answer is not, 'For the rest of the season.'
That's simply not reality.
So instead of putting the No. 2 team alongside the Nos. 48, 99 and 18 as top title contenders, let's just appreciate and enjoy Keselowski's performance while it lasts.
There will be plenty of time for talk of championships later in his career.