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Newman, Kenseth Receive Waivers to Compete for Championship

NASCAR announced Tuesday that cup series drivers Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth will receive waivers that will allow them to compete for the championship in 2020.

Both Newman and Kenseth missed races this season which would typically prevent them from competing for the championship. The NASCAR rules state that, in order to make the playoffs, a driver must compete in all 36 sanctioned races and maintain a position within the top 30 in the points standings. Although the two drivers will still be required to earn their way into the top 30 in points, the rule requiring them to compete in all 36 races has been waived.

Newman Returns to the #6

On Fox’s Sunday broadcast of the NASCAR iRacing Pro-Invitational Series race at Talladega, Ryan Newman made a surprise appearance before the drop of the green flag. He announced that he planned to return to the #6 Roush Fenway Ford when NASCAR returns from hiatus.

Newman was injured in the first race of the season during a last-lap wreck at Daytona International Speedway. While exiting turn four towards the finish line, fellow Ford driver Ryan Blaney had a run after a strong push from Denny Hamlin. Newman was able to block Blaney as he looked to pass the #6 on the high side. However, when Blaney attempted to try for the win on the low side, Newman was turned into the outside wall. The impact forced Newman’s car to flip before a driver’s side impact by Corey LaJoie.

After less than 48 hours, Newman was seen walking out of a local Florida hospital with his two daughters by his side. Until Sunday it was unclear when Newman would return to the #6. He missed the next three races due to his injuries. Ross Chastain filled in for Newman in the #6 car. It seems the hiatus brought on by the Coronavirus outbreak may have given Newman the time he needed to heal as he is now ready to hop behind the wheel of his Roush Fenway Ford.

Kenseth to Replace Larson

Chip Ganassi Racing announced Monday that former Cup Series driver Matt Kenseth will take over the #42 for the remainder of the season. This comes after Kyle Larson was fired by Ganassi for a racial slur that was heard during an iRacing event. 

Kenseth was off the radar as a potential candidate to replace Larson as there were few ties between him and Ganassi. However, the pick makes perfect sense. He will bring veteran experience and will be able to please sponsors weary of the impact of the Larson scandal.

He retired from full-time racing in 2017 to make way for Eric Jones to join Joe Gibbs Racing. The next season he agreed to rejoin Roush Fenway racing for 15 races in the #6 car. During that season, he split the ride with then full-time Cup Series driver, Trevor Bayne.

Kenseth has run 665 races at NASCAR’s highest level while racking up 39 wins, 181 top fives and 329 top tens. He also won the Winston Cup in 2003 and was crowned champion of NASCAR’s premier series.

Next Steps

With only one race under his belt this season, Ryan Newman currently sits at 29th in the cup series standings. Meanwhile, Kenseth has no points this season and will have to drive his way into the top 30 in order to be eligible to make the playoffs this season. This shouldn’t be a problem for either driver, but they will have to win a race or become one of the highest point-getters among winless drivers.

According to the NASCAR rules, a win automatically locks a driver into the playoffs as long as they are in the top 30 in points. For those without wins, the drivers with the most points will fill in the remainder of the 16 car playoff format.

It wouldn’t be shocking to see both Newman and Kenseth in the playoffs, but they have their work cut out for them after missing races to begin the season.

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