Jimmie Johnson believes the right driver won NASCAR's championship, and that a Ryan Newman victory would have been "tough to swallow for the sport."

Johnson began the season as the six-time and defending champion, but he was eliminated from title contention in the revamped Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. A 16-driver field was whittled down to four for Sunday's season finale, where Kevin Harvick claimed his first title.

Johnson was eliminated after the second round, or after the sixth of 10 races.

He felt Harvick was a worthy champion based on his strength all season. Newman was the 16th-seed in the field and advanced to the four-driver finale despite being winless all season.