So now we know who stands on the grassy knoll this week, in NASCAR's endlessly cycling conspiracy orthodoxy. Why, look, it's that nice boy from Wisconsin, Matt Kenseth!
It was Kenseth, puttering along 10 laps off the pace Sunday at Martinsville, who unaccountably wrecked the leader, Joey Logano, rather than backing off the way guys running 10 laps off the pace are supposed to. Ostensibly this was in retaliation for Logano wrecking him at Kansas, when both were racing for the win. But in any case, it set up this: Logano gets taken out, and that hands the lead to the elder statesman, Jeff Gordon, and Gordon goes on to win.
It was not only his first victory since September of last year. It was a victory, in this last set of three races, that catapulted Gordon into the Chase's final four -- which means, in the last race of his decorated career, he'll be racing for his fifth Cup title.
It's a scenario NASCAR could envision only in its sweetest dreams, and so of course it is immediately suspect. Like Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning the first race back at Daytona after his father was killed there, it feels entirely neat, entirely too perfect. The cosmos is not supposed to be such an ordered place, and nowhere is it supposed to be more random than on a racetrack jammed with 43 maniacs striving to see who can bury his or her right foot the deepest. And so there is immediately a suspicion that the hand of man -- and perhaps a specific man, like, say, Matt Kenseth -- must be at work.
"Yeah, sure, Gordon wins right when he needs to to make the final four. Like NASCAR didn't plan that deal," the refrain no doubt went as the faithful sat in post-race traffic.
That's the orthodoxy. The theory the Blob prefers to embrace is not nearly as flashy.
Which is: NASCAR just gets damn lucky sometimes.