It's easy for NASCAR drivers to be vague when asked about their championship chances, because no one can tell the future and no one wants to be pinned down to a Joe Namath-like prediction.
That tends to generate non-specific answers, and there was a lot of that going on during Wednesday's Chase Media Day in downtown Chicago.
You know what I'm talking about. A driver will say he has a "pretty good shot at it" or his team "likes our chances." But how to quantify that? How to figure out exactly how confident these racers are?
Thankfully, some genius long ago invented the Scale Of 1-10. I don't have all the facts on this, but I assume it was created by a guy named Dr. Scale.
Surely, you've heard of Dr. Scale's method. Olympic judges use it to rate gymnasts (A perfect 10!). Doctors use it to rate discomfort (How much pain are you in on a scale of 1-10?). Frankly, it can be used for almost anything.
From figuring out someone's appetite level to just how crappy your spouse's day at work was, the "1-10" question is a great way to measure how a person feels.
So what about the 12 NASCAR drivers who will compete for this season's Sprint Cup Series championship beginning on Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway?
In honor of Dr. Scale's Nobel Prize-winning career (again, just assuming, but how could he not win something for inventing such an invaluable measuring system?), SB Nation asked each of NASCAR's Chase drivers for a "1-10" answer to how they viewed their title hopes.
"Scale of 1-10..." Jeff Gordon said, mulling the question. "Is 1 the best?"
No, Jeff, that's the worst.
"Oh," he said. "Then 10."
BOOOOM! There it is! Gordon said he's a 10, which indicates he's extremely confident about his chances. Heck, that's probably worth a bet in Las Vegas (the 1-10 Scale is never wrong).
How about you, Greg Biffle?
"9.8," Biffle said.
Well done, sir. Biffle's answer showed he was also very confident about winning the Chase – but not quite enough to declare himself a total lock. Mark him down for second place this year.
Wasn't this easy? By using the 1-10 Scale, it was obvious several other drivers felt very good about their chances, too.
Denny Hamlin said he was an "8.5 or 9." Kasey Kahne said he was "definitely a 7 or an 8" – which really isn't that definite, if you think about it – and Brad Keselowski rated his chances exactly the same as Kahne.
Five-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson gave himself a 7, but it came with a deeper explanation.
"Those last three points kind of fall down to some racing luck and variables that are out on the racetrack," Johnson said. "... (Like) mechanicals. Parts don't just break on a car from bad luck, they break because they weren't put on the car right."
Alert the science journals! Johnson, being the analytical thinker he is, was able to find a new wrinkle in the 1-10 Scale: A driver can only promise a maximum of 7, because the final three points are out of his control.
Did we get that right, Jimmie?
"Well, I just came up with that a few seconds ago," he said with a laugh. "But I think so."
Some drivers weren't as outwardly confident as their peers. Martin Truex Jr. said his team has "as good a chance as anyone based on recent performance," but gave himself a "5 or 6." Dale Earnhardt Jr. answered with a "6 or 7" and said he felt "pretty good about it, but I don't want to overstate it."
And Matt Kenseth said his team has been on top of its game lately, but gave himself a surprisingly low 5 because "you never know what's going to happen with flat tires, luck, circumstances."
Sounds similar to the Johnson Theory Of Scales, doesn't it?
Anyway, a few guys were less than forthcoming about their chances. Apparently they don't use the 1-10 model in their daily lives, and that is sad.
"You're thinking about it waaay too much," defending champion Tony Stewart said. "'Cause I'm not thinking about it that deep."
Come on, Tony. Can't you just throw out a random number for scale measurement purposes?
"Sure: 5," he said. "That's a random number."
Similarly, Kevin Harvick talked around the 1-10 question without giving an exact number and had to be pressed for a specific answer.
"I can't honestly tell you," he eventually said. "Is it based on the last three weeks? I'd say we're a 7 or an 8."
Of course, there's always one joker in the bunch who doesn't want to play along. Naturally, we're talking about Clint Bowyer.
"Well...hell, I don't know," Bowyer said, dropping his head as if a teacher just asked him to recite all the state capitals. "I have to put a number on it?"
"1 to 10?" he said. "I'm going to go ahead and tell you a 2, because I don't want to talk about (winning) it – I just want to focus on it."
So there you have it. Jeff Gordon will win the 2012 Sprint Cup Series championship and Clint Bowyer will finish last.
Somewhere, Dr. Scale is smiling.