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Ryan Newman: ‘I don’t think we have to win’ to make playoffs . . . but it’s the ultimate goal

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 - Practice

RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 09: Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 9, 2016 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

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RICHMOND, Va. – Ryan Newman will enter Saturday night’s regular-season finale at Richmond International Raceway with a “win to get in” attitude.

But the Richard Childress Racing driver, who has excelled in the past two playoffs despite not winning a race since 2013, believes he can qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup without a victory too.

“I don’t think we have to win,” Newman, who trails Jamie McMurray by 22 points for the last provisional spot in the Chase, said after qualifying 15th Friday. “There are other scenarios.

“But my ultimate goal either way is to win. I’ll do the best job I possibly can. Whatever happens, happens. I’ve been here on the good side, I’ve been here on the bad side. It just seems like I’m always the guy everybody talks about come (the September race at) Richmond.”

Newman’s No. 31 Chevrolet has been in the headlines since Wednesday when NASCAR docked the team 15 points for failing the postrace laser inspection system at Darlington Raceway.

McMurray (fourth) outqualified Newman by eight spots Friday. In 2005, Newman trailed McMurray by one point for the final spot but outran the Chip Ganassi Racing driver by 28 spots in the race.

If Chris Buescher were to fall outside the top 30 in points without a first-time winner Saturday, that also could open a spot for Newman, who said his car needs to be a “little bit better” on the 0.75-mile oval.

“I just want to go out there and have fun and do the best job I possibly can,” he said. “But we’re putting everything else aside. The rain-shortened races. Whatever kind of penalty stuff and all that stuff. It’s all about going out here and having fun and racing.

“Trying to win a race. That’s what it’s all about. We’ve been trying for 25 races now. We’re tired of not winning. Doesn’t make it any easier to win when you’re tired of it.”

Newman, who finished 12th at Pocono in a rain-shortened race last month, also was docked 10 points for an inspection infraction at Atlanta Motor Speedway in February.

His team didn’t appeal either penalty. In a Wednesday release, RCR said it failed because of damage in the race and was informed by NASCAR that the car must pass the laser platform even with damage.

Was Newman resigned to being penalized after Darlington?

“You never know anymore,” he said. “You hear things. You see things. It’s hard to believe anything anymore, really.”