At Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Newman’s Chase for the Sprint Cup - Quicken Loans Zing BlogAfter a grueling 36-week season that began in February at Daytona, four drivers entered Sunday’s race with a chance to win the Sprint Cup Championship. Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano were each in search of their first championship. Just as NASCAR wanted when it introduced its new Chase for the Sprint Cup format, not only was a champion not determined until the final race, it came down to the final lap.

Despite a last-ditch effort from Newman, Harvick claimed first place in not only the race, but more importantly, the season-long standings. A mere .5 seconds separated Harvick from the second-place Newman. Hamlin finished seventh, while Logano ended 16th.

While Newman wasn’t able to take a checkered flag during the season, he found himself in the Chase thanks to his five top-fives and 16 top-10s. His second-place finish in the season-long points standings marks a career best.

The no. 31 crew finished the year especially strong. Beginning October 5 at Dover, Newman recorded five consecutive top-eight finishes. Despite a 15th-place showing at Texas, Newman managed to squeak into the final four by placing 11th at Phoenix. It all made for one exciting final race at Miami, although two late restarts derailed his championship aspirations.

In his first year at Richard Childress Racing, Newman showed that he’s got what it takes to compete for a championship. He’ll head into the off-season to prepare for another run at a championship in 2015.

In three short months, the 2015 season will kick off at Daytona.

What are your favorite moments of Ryan’s 2014 season? Let us know in the comments below!

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