"He'll go down in history as one of the greatest, if not the greatest," Harvick's team owner, Richard Childress, said of Johnson.
That's a mouthful, coming from the owner who sent Dale Earnhardt to six of his seven NASCAR championships.
Going into Sunday's season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN), Johnson has his whopping 28-point lead over Kenseth and 34 over Harvick -- and he has his greatness.
"Of course I'm proud to be a part of the conversation [on the all-time best], but in the end, it's not my place to say," Johnson said.
With the gap in points, "Obviously, we're not going to make up the deficit on performance," Kenseth said. "I think Jimmie could run 28th through the grass or with three wheels on."
Kenseth presumably meant 23rd, which is where Johnson needs to finish to lock up his sixth championship, even if Kenseth or Harvick were to win the race and lead the most laps.
"He's going to have to have a mechanical problem or crash to make something happen," Kenseth said.
Winning the pole amounted to a big rebound for Kenseth after a dismal 23rd-place performance last week at Phoenix turned the Chase from a neck-and-neck battle into another likely runaway for Johnson.
"The thing is, Jimmie is so far ahead that, even if he does have a problem, we need to be in front to be able to capitalize on that," Kenseth said.
But the pole "is a good start to that," Kenseth acknowledged, "and it will hopefully get us a bonus point right away [if he leads a lap early]."
Harvick will start sixth and Johnson seventh, so Kenseth has a good chance to be the first of the three remaining championship contenders to lead a lap.
Even more important now than in other races is an excellent pit location, to avoid those little jams and fender benders on the pit road that can cost a driver badly.
"We have the best pit stall, and that seems to be an advantage every week," Kenseth said. "I think it's important."
Then, out on the track, "We need to be up front and try to lead this thing as much as we can and be in that mix at the end."
Johnson, with the seventh pit selection, is right on the cusp of his comfort zone because "usually about five to six range is where you start running out of clean in and out," he said.
This will be Harvick's final race for Childress, ending a roller-coaster relationship that began when Harvick was called up early from the lesser ranks after Earnhardt was killed in the 2001 Daytona 500.
Even as they've feuded this fall -- especially after an outburst by Harvick at Martinsville, Va., three weeks ago -- Harvick has won two Chase races, including last week at Phoenix.
"I give Richard a lot of credit," said Johnson's team owner, Rick Hendrick. "He and Kevin are going to separate, but they came in here and put it together and raced to the end."
That's why Harvick still has a shot Sunday, long as it might be.
"We've had so many strange things happen throughout my career at the last minute, you at least have to play everything out," Harvick said. "Just the type of team we are, we race up until the last lap. You just never know what's going to happen."
Still, up against Johnson and his points pad, "It's definitely a really, really long shot," Harvick said.
A sixth title for Johnson on Sunday would make him third all-time in championships, behind only Earnhardt and Richard Petty, tied with seven.
And without a doubt, the conversation even from Victory Lane at Homestead-Miami Speedway would shift immediately to whether Johnson can win seven, or even "eight to 10," as Petty himself said is entirely possible for Johnson.
"Again, it's just not my place," Johnson said. "When I hang my helmet up, we'll see what the opinion is then. Regardless of where it's at, I've had a lot to be proud of over my career. I hope to build more on it, for sure, but we'll see where it falls."
"He's got many good years ahead of him," Childress said. "I think he'll set a lot of records before he decides to hang it up."