Sunday's Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway marked a role reversal in Nextel Cup racing, with Jimmie Johnson moving ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon to take a 30-point lead in the Chase for the Cup.
When Gordon won at Charlotte three weeks ago, he took a 68-point lead over Johnson. Johnson has won every race since - the first three-race Cup winning streak since one by Johnson in the 2004 Chase - and now Gordon has to chase Johnson in the season's final two weeks.
There's more to this flip, though, than their positions in the standings. The overriding truth is Johnson and his No. 48 team have become what Gordon and his No. 24 used to be.
"Since that group got together, in my opinion, that is the strongest team, driver, crew chief, group, everything-all-together unit, that is the strongest unit in the garage area," Sunday's runner-up, Matt Kenseth, said of Johnson's team, which is led by crew chief Chad Knaus.
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"And in my opinion it's been that way for four years."
It's been five seasons, since 2001, since Gordon last won a championship. Unless he can beat Johnson in the next two weeks, another year is about to be tacked on.
Yes, Gordon has four championships while the title Johnson won last year was his first. But since Johnson moved up to Cup in 2002, he has won nine more races (32 to 23, the top two totals in the sport) and one more title than Gordon.
But there's more to it than numbers.
From 1995 to '98, when Gordon and crew chief Ray Evernham led a team that amassed 40 victories and three of four championships, it seemed they could will their way to victory. Whatever decision they made, whatever strategy they employed turned to gold.
Two weeks ago at Atlanta, Johnson got two tires while drivers who had dominated all day took four, and Johnson converted that into a win. At Texas, Johnson took four when Kenseth took two, and Johnson won again.
"I can't think of a track that I go to that you don't think of the 48 being up there challenging for a win or making strategy calls or pushing the rules to the limit or whatever it may be," Kenseth said. "They're unbelievable. I think they're the best, on top of their game right now."
Johnson, concluding his sixth season, has won at 14 tracks. If he adds Phoenix to that list this weekend, he'd become the first driver to win four races in a row since Gordon did it during his memorable 13-victory season in 1998.
He also, I think, would put the clamps on becoming the first to win consecutive titles since Gordon in 1997 and '98. Johnson has made up 98 points on Gordon in the past three weeks despite the fact Gordon hasn't finished lower than seventh.
Gordon, I believe, has to beat Johnson at Phoenix and gain at least some points on his teammate to have a chance to pull out the championship in the finale at Homestead.
But that's the trick.
Beating Johnson and the 48 team has become every bit as hard as it once was to beat Gordon and the 24.