I was actually contemplating how cool it was that NASCAR had created big incentives for drivers to go for the win this year when this popped into my head: Helllooooooo, NEWMAN.
Both Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth are winless this year, and if either wins the championship, the Festival of Rage, Chagrin, and UMBRAGE would be so delicious, that as a result I now want one of them to win, even though I picked Jeff Gordon in my bracket. No offense, Jeff!
Newman and Kenseth are two of eight still alive in the Chase, along with Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski. Everybody but Kenseth and Newman has at least one win.
I’m rooting for Newman, though, because he's the bigger underdog. During the regular season he only posted three top fives and led 41 laps. Newman squeaked into the Chase as the P16 (and final) qualifier, so he’s like the 8-8 NFL team that makes the playoffs as a wildcard.
Lately, Newman has been swinging the war ax of consistency (old school) against laser gun of elimination (new school). In the last four races, Newman has finished P8 at Dover, P6 at Kansas, P7 at Charlotte, P5 at Talladega.
I’m not rooting for him out of bitterness against the new, 16 “nation” format that emphasizes wins, because I like the fact that NASCAR emphasizes wins. I am rooting for him because he’s the fly in the ointment, seems like a nice guy, and the UMBRAGE a Newman title would generate would be sooooo exceptionally DELISH. Like Leon Spinks beating Mohammed Ali for us old people (February 15, 1978).
People would just lose their shit everywhere. (Hopefully Newman wouldn’t go on the epic career suicide bender that Spinks went on.) OUTRAGEOUS that a winless driver wins the championship! NEVER WATCHING THIS CONTRIVED BULLSHIT AGAIN! Cue the CONGRESSIONAL INVESTIGATION.
So, what if Newman pulls off top fives in the next three races, while big dogs roll it, and he advances to the final four? Then it’s just a matter of finishing in front of the other three — which doesn’t necessarily mean win the race — to win the title. After all, we got a lot of eliminated racers who will be driving angry in the last four races.
It’s more than just plausible. And, I think NASCAR would be OK with Champion Newman … because of the massive Festival of Twisted Knickers it would set off. Screaming and yelling among fans and in the media is a good thing. NASCAR rides it like a pro surfer in the pipe off Oahu.
UPDATE: It's just come to my attention that Ryan Newman has a foundation focused in part on the welfare of pets, which has my extreme support. Check it out here.