So after 10 years and more shade-tree mechanic work than Cletus used on his '65 Buick ... we finally got a Chase.
Kevin Harvick fled and Ryan Newman Chased. That's how it all went down last night in the last race of the NASCAR season.
Harvick won the Sprint Cup, and the race, by beating Newman on a restart with three laps left in the season, and if that wasn't NASCAR's perfect scenario, it's hard to imagine a better one. The new format -- in which the 16-team Chase field was cut down four at a time in three-race increments -- gave NASCAR exactly the endgame it wanted.
The four remaining Chasers were running 3-4-5-6 in the last 25 laps. There was strategy drama (Would Denny Hamlin staying out on a caution with 19 laps to run be the gamble that won him the Cup?), and pit drama (Joey Logano's chances die when his car falls off the jack during a late stop), and, down at the end, the ultimate on-track shootout drama.
Harvick and Newman running 1-2. Three laps to go. Whoever wins the restart wins the title.
It was Harvick, and time out for the Blob to pat itself on the back for getting that one right. It happens so seldom, after all.
It was Harvick, and those last three laps were absolute gold for both him and NASCAR: All those camera shots of Delana Harvick freaking out as the field came to the green for the last time, then dissolving in tears as her husband closed in on the double checkers.
It surely didn't chase the NFL off America's TV screen, even if the competing NFL game featured Green Bay blowing the Eagles into Lake Michigan. But this time you couldn't fault the system for that happening.
No, sir. This time, the Chase caught exactly what it was looking for.