Now that the 12-driver Chase field is set, the drama that leads to the drama is over for 2011. No longer will fans have to worry that Tony Stewart won't make the chase or Dale Earnhardt Jr. will fade out of contention.
Smoke and NASCAR's Most Popular Driver made the cut.
And the wild-card race, which was designed to add some spice to the Chase, resulted in Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin earning the final two spots in the field.
Both are young, both are brash, and both belong.
Throw Jimmie Johnson, the battling Busches (Kyle and Kurt), Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth into the mix, and you've got the recipe for a pretty nice run-up to Homestead and the 2011 championship.
These pilots have combined for 334 victories at the top level of stock-car racing and won 13 championships.
Of course, Johnson has five of those titles -- the last five -- and there are fans, NASCAR officials, sponsors and even casual observers hoping that his incredible streak finally ends in November.
In some ways, dynasties are good for business -- Michael Jordan's run with the Bulls and the various turns the Lakers and Celtics have taken in winning consecutive championships served the NBA well.
And if an NFL team ever wins three consecutive Super Bowls, fans aren't going to suddenly shun the three-peaters.
But there's something about individual dominance that can be unsettling, and only Johnson's team and fans are happy that he's turned the Sprint Cup into his own invitational series.
Championship runs like his are best celebrated in the context of history. Looking back on a dynasty is far more satisfying than living under one.
But that is certainly the case in Cup, and Johnson enters the postseason as the sixth seed, nine whole points behind co-top seeds Kyle Busch and Harvick, each with 2,012 points.
So who might seize the title from Johnson this year?
Well, Junior remains the top draw among race fans and the joy boy of the NASCAR establishment. Those groups would love for Earnhardt Jr. to be the man to wrestle the crown away from Johnson.
But it doesn't appear likely.
After a strong start to the season, Driver 88 hasn't looked much like a contender in recent weeks, and there's no compelling reason to believe he'll suddenly get dialed in for the final 10 events of the year.
Kyle Busch is the guy who always looks like he'll be the new man to beat in the sport, but as of yet he isn't able to beat anyone in the races that count the most.
From a sentimental standpoint, it'd be cool to see Gordon win his fifth championship, while a young gun like Keselowski would also create some pretty good water-cooler talk by parlaying a wild-card spot into a No. 1 finish.
Honestly, though, Johnson has this playoff system figured out so well I'd never bet against him. As long as he makes the Chase, he's going to be my pick to win it.
You might not like his dynasty, but you have to respect the fact that it never shows any signs of crumbling.