Ryan Newman takes big step towards first win of season and potential Chase berth with third-place finish at Kentucky

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Ever since he moved from Stewart Haas Racing to Richard Childress Racing, it’s been one step after another for Ryan Newman.

He had to get used to a new organization, new team, new crew chief and a new way of doing things.

In Saturday night’s Quaker State 400 Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway, Newman took another step – and one of the biggest of the season thus far.

While he’s been fairly consistent in the first 16 races of 2014, Newman finally earned his first top-five finish with a strong third-place showing at the 1.5-mile tri-oval.

“It’s a big gain for us and all the guys at RCR and ECR to get that first top-five of the season,” Newman told TNT after the race.

Newman started seventh and was in the top 10 for almost the entire race.

“It was a good run,” Newman said. “The 2 (race winner Brad Keselowski) was obviously the fastest car all night. The 18 (runner-up Kyle Busch) got a little bit better there near the end.”

The key for Newman’s finish was somewhat unusual for a track such as Kentucky, which has a number of bumps and hard surface that makes it easy to knock a car’s setup totally out of whack.

But not Newman’s.

“We were pretty solid,” he said. “We never really changed the car. We felt like we were pretty neutral and didn’t want to screw it up, so we ended up where we did.”

Now the key is for Newman to continue taking more steps, perhaps earning his first win of the season and with his new team, which likely would qualify him for this year’s revised and reformatted Chase for the Sprint Cup.

“I hope (Saturday’s finish) translates and I think it will,” Newman said. “I think we’ve got some stuff coming. Pocono and Indy (he’s defending winner of the Brickyard 400) are a couple I’m really looking forward to.”

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IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”