Nothing about the outcome was surprising or unexpected even if the venue may have been new. For the third time in four races Jimmie Johnson was the man holding the trophy in Victory Lane Sunday having triumphed in the Quicken Loans 400.
While it may have been Johnson's first career win at Michigan International Speedway in 25 attempts that too was no shock. The defending Sprint Cup champion had long been overdue to win on the 2-mile track, having come close on several occasions in recent years only to be vexed by a myriad of impediments.
Less of an astonishment was that for the fifth consecutive week a Hendrick Motorsports driver was doing the celebrating.
From the first lap in practice Friday through the fall of the checkered flag two days later, Hendrick drivers or those of its affiliate teams (Stewart-Haas Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing) were omnipresent at the top of the scoring charts. Combined, drivers using Hendrick horsepower led 81 percent of all laps Sunday, and held nine of the top 13 positions.
"I think it is obvious that Hendrick Motorsports produces fast race cars" Johnson said. "They build fast engines. It doesn't matter if it is Stewart-Haas, or the Hendrick organization. We're winning a lot of races, and running up front."
It's a kind of dominance that has left the opposition befuddled. Even third-place finisher Brad Keselowski of Team Penske had to concede just how outclassed the garage is in comparison to the Hendrick juggernaut.
"We all have got a little bit of work to do because it's pretty obvious that the Hendrick engines are way ahead of everyone else," Keselowski said. "Usually that's not something you catch up with in one season. As far ahead as they are right now, they're probably a full season ahead of everyone. We've got work to do to get there."
As if any more confirmation was needed, Johnson's Michigan win is just the latest evidence that NASCAR's highest division is in fact Hendrick's domain. Along with Johnson, teammates Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. maintain realistic championship expectations -- which if come to fruition would be the organization's 12th in 30 years.
And if that championship doesn't materialize for Hendrick it might only be because SHR, which although a separate entity shares a close technical alliance with Hendrick and gets its cars and engines from NASCAR's preeminent team, wins a second title in four years.
"The way that the Hendrick Motorsports affiliated teams and team itself has performed has been pretty impressive as a whole," said Chad Knaus, Johnson's crew chief. "We know we build chassis for a lot of the other competitors and those cars have ran very, very well. The teams that have run with our engines have run very, very well, as well. It's been pretty awesome."
Because outside of his own teammates Johnson's chief rival figures to be Kevin Harvick, who started on the pole at Michigan and led a race-high 63 laps en route to a second-place finish. On the year, he is twice victorious with the potential for several more had it not been for several correctable mistakes.
"I think it's pretty obvious. Self-explanatory," said Harvick about the benefits of having a Hendrick motor.
And what should send shivers through everyone not associated with Hendrick, Knaus made it known he expects a higher level of performance when the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins in September.
"The fact of the matter is I think we've got to be a little bit better," Knaus said. "We've got to continue to improve our product so by the time we get to the Chase we're where we need to be."
What's left to improve Knaus didn't elaborate. One can only surmise the Hendrick machine won't rest until it steamrolls every race in the same fashion it did Sunday at Michigan.