Wins or no wins, a championship is a championship to Ryan Newman

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Ryan Newman won eight races during the 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. He ended up finishing sixth in the standings.

The championship that year went to the more consistent Matt Kenseth, even though he only won one race.

And now in 2014, this first year of the new Chase for the Sprint Cup format, Newman could wind up winning the Cup without winning any races at all.

But don’t bother getting Newman to look for a sense of irony in that.

To the Richard Childress Racing driver, whose constant front-running has put him second on the Chase Grid going into tomorrow’s middle race of the Eliminator Round at Texas Motor Speedway, he’ll take a title any way he can get one.

“Mathematically, the potential is there [for a winless champion],” Newman said on Friday at TMS. “As long as you have four seeds and three winners, there’s that potential. We know that, at the max, there will be two at this point going into this last round [on points alone].

“Nevertheless, a championship is still a championship, and the trophy doesn’t have the number of wins underneath it. If we win the championship, that would be great in any form or fashion.

“But we’re here to win races as well, and there would be nothing better than to win the next three. There’s no guarantee in any of that.”

As Newman himself noted on Friday, he’s largely been banking a steady rate of finishes in the lower Top 10 this year without leading a lot of laps (he’s paced only 41 laps throughout the year, 17 of which have come during the Chase).

However, as the year has gone by and the series re-visits many of its tracks for a second time, Newman and the 31 camp have improved their results.

That’s paid off big for them during this Chase. Texas could mark the seventh consecutive race in which the team has bettered their spring result at the same track (Newman finished 16th at Texas in April).

Outside of a win either tomorrow or in next weekend’s Eliminator Round finale at Phoenix, that may be the path to Homestead and the Sprint Cup Championship Race for them.

But what if they do get there? Are they good enough to out-hustle the three others that would be racing them for the Cup?

“I feel like we are, without a doubt,” Newman said. “It takes us continuing to perform and outperform where we have performed. We’ve gotten stronger as the year has gone. The last two races were nice; to have back-to-back Top-5s is something that is much needed at this time of the year for our team.

“So yeah, without a doubt, we wouldn’t be here if we weren’t a contender for the championship.”

IndyCar at IMS Friday: How to watch, start times, live streaming info

IndyCar Indianapolis start times
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With three races remaining in the NTT IndyCar Series season, Scott Dixon has a commanding lead and history on his side entering Friday’s opener of the Harvest GP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The five-time series champion leads defending champ Josef Newgarden by 72 points.

Since 2014, the points leader with three races left has won the championship in five of the past six years, including Dixon in ’18.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver has led the championship standings following every round after opening 2020 with three consecutive victories. Dixon also led the points by 78 points with three races remaining when he won the title in 2008.

Dixon, Newgarden, Pato O’Ward, Colton Herta, Will Power, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato are championship eligible.

Anyone outside 108 points of the lead after Indy will be eliminated heading into the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

Here is the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course schedule for Friday (all times are ET), including details and start times:


Indianapolis Motor Speedway TV schedule for Friday

IndyCar Harvest GP Race 1: 3:30 p.m., USA Network, NBC Sports Gold and streaming on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com); Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for IndyCar on NBCSN this weekend with analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.


IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 1 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway start times, information

COMMAND TO START ENGINES: 3:53 p.m.

GREEN FLAG: 4 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 85 laps (207.35 miles) around Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s a 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in Indianapolis.

TIRE ALLOTMENT: Nine sets primary, five sets alternate (A 10th set of primary tires is available to any car fielding a rookie.) Teams must use one set of primary and one set of alternate tires in the race.

PUSH TO PASS: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.

FORECAST: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 57 degrees with a 0% chance of rain at the green flag.

QUALIFYING: 6:20 p.m. Thursday (NBC Sports Gold)

ENTRY LIST: Click here for the 25 drivers racing this weekend at Indianapolis