Brian France: Harvick’s race/championship win ‘like a grand slam in the ninth inning’

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NASCAR Chairman/CEO Brian France didn’t think Kevin Harvick just hit a home run Sunday in winning the first Sprint Cup championship under the new elimination format.

No, with the dramatic way Harvick took the lead on the closing laps and then held on for his first-ever Sprint Cup championship, it was much more in France’s mind.

“It might have been a grand slam in the ninth inning,” France said Monday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I really thought that in past times and late in the season — I go back to Tony Stewart when he not only had to beat Carl Edwards and win (2011 championship), and some other performances — I really thought whoever was going to come away with the championship was going to need a win.”

“It was amazing,” France said. “The amount of excitement and drama, watching that, even for long-time fans like myself, that has you on the edge of your seat, who’s going to do this thing. That’s the beauty of this format.”

It’s unlikely there will be any further major revisions to the format, although some minor tweak(s) may still occur once NASCAR reviews all elements of how the Chase played out in the next month or so.

Certainly, having sold-out venues at the final two tracks – Phoenix and Homestead-Miami – ended the Chase on an especially high note.

And then with Harvick’s dramatic push to the front, the race win and ultimately the championship, France and NASCAR look forward to more of the same kind of excitement and drama in subsequent editions of the Chase to come.

“As we go down the road, that’s going to be the Chase,” France said. “If you go back through (this year’s edition of) the Chase, there were plenty of big moments where teams stepped up to move on – (Brad) Keselowski when he had to do it at Talladega, for example.

“I think the teams like that environment. I know it’s stressful for them, but at the end of the day, they get excited and elevated themselves.”