That giant sucking sound you hear is Sebastian Vettel taking all the fun out of Formula 1.
You would think that since he clinched his second consecutive championship a couple of races ago, he would let somebody else have a chance at the top step of the podium. But no, Vettel ran away and hid last weekend at the inaugural Grand Prix of India.
Is the young German on his way to becoming the Jimmie Johnson of F1, and be the next "Five-Time" champion? I wouldn't bet against it. In fact, he might even be the next Michael Schumacher.
However, "Mister Five-Time" Johnson is a huge underdog to change his title to "Six-Time." At 43 points back and three races to go, Johnson has to hope for some luck to win this year.
"We are not in control of our destiny," he said in a press conference.
Indeed, the five drivers ahead of him in the Chase point standings will have to experience some bad luck in order for Jimmie to catch up. Tony Stewart is only eight points out of the lead, and he's on a roll with three Chase victories.
Stewart has his sights set on points leader Carl Edwards, serving notice in victory lane at Martinsville with the comment "The next three weeks will not be easy for him."
And with two Cup titles already in his pocket, Stewart knows how to get the job done. Edwards meanwhile seems calmly confident, noting that Texas, Phoenix and Homestead are all tracks where his Ford team runs very well. Edwards has three wins at Texas, one at Phoenix, and a pair of victories at Homestead.
Neither Edwards nor third-place Kevin Harvick have won a championship, and both are hungry. Although Harvick is currently 21 points back, he has a way of showing up in victory lane when least expected. And if Brad Keselowski gets back on the form he had after breaking an ankle earlier in the season, he could make up his 27-point deficit and challenge for the title as well.
Stewart will take the green flag in fifth on Sunday with Edwards right behind him in seventh. The other three Roush cars qualified 1-2-3 with Greg Biffle on the pole, followed by David Ragan and Matt Kenseth. Keselowski qualified eighth, Johnson will start 11th, and Harvick turned in a disappointing performance to qualify 21st.
The Nationwide series is a two-horse race between points leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Elliott Sadler, 15 points behind.
The next nearest competitor is Aric Almirola, 87 points in arrears. With all the Cup drivers who race in the series and often take the top spots, it is difficult for a Nationwide series regular to score maximum points from one race to the next. Combine that fact with the new point system, and even the 15-point gap may be difficult for Sadler to overcome.
Today's race also marks the return of Danica Patrick, now a full-time NASCAR driver. It is her first race since the tragic IndyCar race at Las Vegas. Patrick will be wearing a special helmet this weekend as a tribute to her friend and former teammate Dan Wheldon, and will donate the helmet to the Dan Wheldon Foundation after the race. She will run a full Nationwide season in 2012 for JR Motorsports, and selected Cup events with Stewart-Haas Racing beginning with the 2012 Dayton 500.