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Four-time champion Jeff Gordon, his Hendrick teammate and a co-owner of Johnson’s car, said there’s just no way to predict the unexpected things like what happened to Hamlin. But, based on flat-out speed and performance, he said the edge certainly goes to Johnson.

Brad has put up a good fight. If you’re putting money down on it, it’s hard to go against that No. 48 team,” Gordon said. “They’re just so rock-solid at so many different tracks. They’ve won five championships so it’s not like they’re nervous. They’re pretty relaxed and in a comfort zone and it’s really nothing to lose. They’ve won five championships and they’re in great position.”