CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Jimmie Johnson was stunned by the proposed changes to the championship format he heard in a phone call from NASCAR chairman Brian France two weeks ago.
Not because the six-time champion worried the radical overhaul was designed to stop his dominance on the Sprint Cup Series.
Instead, France went over a proposal that Johnson had never heard before in multiple discussions with NASCAR executives.
NASCAR will officially announce its Chase for the Sprint Cup championship format on Thursday. All signs point to a 16-driver field whittled down through eliminations to four drivers and a winner-take-all season finale.
Johnson says he supports the format because NASCAR needed "something big" to re-ignite passion in its fan base.