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.”

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E

Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.