NASCAR Hall of Famers Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett weigh in on prospect of winless champion

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As you’d probably figure, NASCAR Hall of Famers and current TV analysts Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett were both complimentary of the new Chase for the Sprint Cup format during a 30-minute meeting with the media today at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

But when posed with the question of how NASCAR could explain things if a winless Ryan Newman claimed the Sprint Cup title this Sunday, Jarrett appeared to be stumped.

“Good question. Sometimes, there’s just not complete explanations for everything,” he said. “I mean, the whole thing was set up to reward winning.”

And yet Newman – who has collected just four Top-5s and a mere 41 laps led this season, and has not finished better than third over his last 51 races – can win it all by beating Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, and Denny Hamlin in the Ford Ecoboost 400.

So what would Jarrett do to ensure that such a scenario could not exist?

“I proposed something to NASCAR and maybe I’ve said this to a number of y’all before…My solution to the situation – and we’ll use this year – Ryan Newman’s here but the only way he could become the champion if he wins this race,” he said. “Otherwise, the other three are the ones racing for the championship, to finish ahead of each other.

“Obviously, that doesn’t help this year, so to kind of answer the question, I don’t know. You can’t even say – a lot of times, you try to make the comparison with the Patriots going undefeated [in 2007] and then losing the Super Bowl. Well, the [New York Giants] won games before then, so they had to win. You can’t even do that [comparison].

“So, there’s just not an explanation other than you gotta give ’em credit.”

As for Wallace’s thoughts on the subject, he said that Newman has proven that you can get the job done either way: Winning or consistency.

“If he doesn’t win [Sunday], he’ll probably be consistent – and there’s a good opportunity he could win,” he said. “But I’d hope that the public is educated by now that there’s two ways to do it. I’m sure some of them aren’t. But I know for the excitement and for the goodness of the sport – I mean, it’s crystal clear, if you win, you punch your ticket and get to advance. Plan B is to be consistent.

“So, I’ve always looked at it that way. If you win, cool. If you don’t win, you better be damn consistent. Two things, not just one thing. But I know the hype going in was ‘You gotta win, you gotta win, you gotta win.'”

So if Newman does take the title, will this mean yet another tweak to the Chase?

Earlier today, Brian France said the probability for such in 2015 was “very modest to zero,” but Jarrett said that it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if it ensured that the champion had at least one race win in his pocket.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, points

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

POINTS: Standings after Rolex 24 at Daytona l Michelin Endurance Cup standings l Daytona endurance points

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.