Brad Keselowski is fond of saying there are two kinds of pressure: Pressure applied and pressure felt.
Five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson spent much of Thursday afternoon trying to apply the pressure to Keselowski, who has never won a Sprint Cup Series championship but carries a 20-point lead into Sunday's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
So did it work?
"Certainly, he's trying to apply pressure," Keselowski said with a smirk. "Certainly, I don't feel any."
Keselowski's version of swagger – the calm, cool attitude of a person who has it all together – made him seem unaffected by Johnson's repeated barbs on Thursday.
Unless he was doing a great job of acting, Keselowski was less affected by trash talk in the annual contender's press conference than Denny Hamlin was in 2010 – when he seemed clearly rattled by Johnson – and Carl Edwards in 2011 – when he was the subject of relentless ribbing from Tony Stewart.
Johnson insisted Keselowski would feel the pressure at some point during the Homestead weekend. The magnitude of the championship race, Johnson said, affects all contenders at some point.
"He may be very comfortable and calm now – it may not happen until he's in the car – but at some point that magnitude hits," Johnson said. "I've lived through it five times. That's a turning moment, and we'll see how he responds."
No one is immune, Johnson said. No one can avoid it.
"I don't care who you are," he said.
There were plenty of reasons for that, Johnson said. A tire could blow. Bad luck could happen on the track. Keselowski could have an off day. The pit crew could screw up. The presence of his family could weigh on him. The questions could get to him.
"This just isn't any other race," Johnson said. "This is the championship race, and there's a lot that comes with that."
Keselowski, though, said he was unaffected by Johnson's remarks. In fact, Keselowski said he wasn't happy when Johnson crashed at Phoenix; he was actually "disappointed," because the Penske Racing driver wanted the pressure of having to win the race in a close points battle.
"That's the type of person I am," he said. "I want the ball. I want to be on the field on the last play and have the ball thrown to me.
"I guess that shows you there's definitely pressure – but I like it. I thrive in it. That's what I want."
Though Sunday is the biggest race of his life, Keselowski said he's been through more pressure-filled situations before. He cited his first Nationwide race for JR Motorsports, a Chicagoland field filled with Cup drivers when Keselowski had never seen the track before.
Before that race, team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. had some simple advice: You wreck the car, and you're done.
"Now that was pressure," Keselowski said. "Moments like that make this seem not so bad, and they also build up a level of confidence where I feel like this is quite a bit easier than those moments."
Johnson, though, had his own level of confidence there would be cracks underneath Keselowski's no-big-deal exterior. Everyone thought the IndyCar championship was all but decided in September, Johnson recalled, until Will Power crashed and lost it.
On that note, Johnson seemed delighted to remind Keselowski a 15th-place finish on Sunday was "not a lay-up." Championships have been blown before and they'll be choked away again in the future.
"Brad, if you'd like me to call later and remind you of any other examples," Johnson said, "I certainly can."