In Milestone Year, NASCAR President Mike Helton Says Chase Has Delivered

NASCAR President Mike Helton (Getty Images)
NASCAR President Mike Helton (Getty Images)
NASCAR President Mike Helton (Getty Images)

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — From NASCAR President Mike Helton’s perspective, the first decade of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup has passed just about as quickly as a record-setting qualifying run.

Two days away from the 10th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship to be decided under the 10-race Chase format, Helton fielded questions from reporters Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“I don’t know what’s happened the last 10 years that moved us along so fast, but [we’re] celebrating the 10th Chase, and I would tell you that from NASCAR’s perspective the Chase has delivered on what we had hoped it would do,” Helton said. “I think we could sustain an argument that it’s one of the most challenging championships in all of sports.”

Should Jimmie Johnson’s 28-point lead hold up in Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400, Johnson will have won six of the 10 Chase championships. And he will have done so in three distinct types of race cars, the latest of which is the Gen-6 introduced this year.

“On the Cup side, obviously the most visible element in 2013 was the Gen?6 race car,” Helton said, “And we’re very pleased with its roll?out early in ’13, but we’re also very pleased with the results on the race track, as it’s evolved throughout the season, and of course Homestead Sunday being the final event of its inaugural year.

“The in?race passing elevated. We [have] had 16 different winners. Many were winners that you would expect to win like the 48 (Jimmie Johnson), the 20 (Matt Kenseth) and the 29 (Kevin Harvick), but I think we also had some moments that we were all pretty proud of with the (34, David Ragan) in Talladega and the 55 (Brian Vickers) winning in New Hampshire. So we’re very pleased with the roll-out of the Gen?6.”