A non-winner champ? It could happen — for better or worse

When we started the season back in February with the Daytona 500, all the drivers wanted to find themselves right where Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick are at this very moment. These are the final four drivers who have a chance this weekend at Homestead to take up the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship.

Of the four, the one who is probably the biggest surprise is Ryan Newman. Ryan hasn’t won a race all year. Ryan is with an organization, Richard Childress Racing, that also hasn’t won a race all year. Taking that even a step further, Ryan only has four top-five finishes in these first 35 races of 2014, but believe it or not, it gets even more ironic than that. Jeff Gordon had as many second-place finishes in the nine Chase races as Ryan had top-five finishes all year, yet Ryan advanced and Jeff didn’t.

Honestly, though, to me, right behind him in a very close second for the biggest surprise in the final four at Homestead is Denny Hamlin. Remember that Denny has only won one race this year. His fifth-place finish Sunday was his first top five in the nine Chase races.

So yes, the big surprise of our four finalists is Ryan Newman. To be honest, I never gave him a chance to make it out of the second round. I really don’t think anyone saw this coming where we have a non-winner with a legitimate shot of being our champion. I mean to be fair, we were very close to having Matt Kenseth in the final four, and that would have made for two non-race winners vying for the championship.

I think the hard-core NASCAR race fans get it if Ryan can pull it off. If it were to happen, though, you just have to imagine the casual race fan is really going to be scratching their head if a non-race-winning driver wins the championship.

VIDEO: Ryan Newman sneaks into Championship Round with bold move