Chevy Racing–NASCAR–Homestead-Miami Post Race

NOVEMBER 20, 2015

Kevin Harvick Ends Season Strong for Chevrolet
Chevy SS Drivers Finish 2-3-4 in Year-End Point Standings

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (November 22, 2015) – Piloting the No. 4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, Kevin Harvick led the way for Team Chevy in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Harvick ended the last race of the year with a runner-up finish, and was second in the year-end NSCS point standings. In 2015, Harvick captured three wins, 23 top-five’s, and 27 top-10 finishes.

With less than 10 laps remaining, Harvick was able to move from fourth to second on the final restart, but ended up just a little more than 1.5-seconds shy of winning a second consecutive title.

“We were just struggling all night with our Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevy,” said Harvick, following the race. “We had a lot of trouble getting up off the corner and putting the power down. And the longer the run went, the looser that we would get up off the corner. We just want to thank everybody: Hendrick Engines, SHR, Outback, Mobil 1, Hunt Brothers, Chevrolet and everybody who is a part of this car and who has been supportive of us over the last two years. It’s been a great couple of years and I’m looking forward to next year. So, it’s fun to be able to run like this. You always want to win, but I’ve learned not to get greedy. After last year, I felt like we had everything go our way; and tonight, it didn’t go our way.”

Four-time series champion, Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, finished in sixth-place in the race, and third in the 2015 standings. Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet SS, was 12th in the race and took a career-best fourth place finish in the championship order.

“To drive for one of the best car owners, if not the best; and to drive the best race cars and work with the best people, is why I have the wins and championships that I have,” said Gordon, following his final race as a full-time driver in a 23-year, 797-race career. “And that’s why we did what we did here today in the final race, in battling for a championship.”

Kyle Larson earned a fifth-place finish in the season-ending race in his No. 42 Target Plaid Chevrolet SS, which marked his second top-five finish of the season.
Kurt Busch drove his No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS to an eighth-place finish at Homestead; and six-time NSCS champion, Jimmie Johnson, was ninth to round out the top-10 finishers for Chevrolet in the season-finale.

In the race, Brad Keselowski (Ford) finished third and Joey Logano (Ford) was fourth.

In the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the Final 4 finished as follows:
1st = Kyle Busch (Toyota)
2nd = Kevin Harvick (Chevrolet)
3rd = Jeff Gordon (Chevrolet)
4th = Martin Truex, Jr., (Chevrolet)

The 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season gets underway with the Daytona 500 on February 21.



THE MODERATOR: Let’s hear now from our 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, tonight’s race runner‑up, and it’s Kevin Harvick. As I told him out in the lobby, he’s been a super champion for NASCAR. Congratulations and our appreciation for the way you’ve represented the sport.

He drives the No. 4 Budweiser Jimmy John’s Chevrolet for Stewart‑Haas Racing, and Kevin, certainly you gave it all you had out there tonight, just came up a little short.

KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, just really proud of everybody on our team. We were definitely a little bit off tonight, and we just kept throwing stuff at it, and we never really found anything that really helped the car that was like, oh, man, that’s what we needed right there.

I thought there at the end that the restart, we might do a little better than that, but obviously either the splitter was on the ground or the car was just tighter than it probably needed to be, and just I couldn’t hustle it and got it tight and got it up the racetrack and got behind.

The 18 car, he just had the speed all night for the most part. You know, as the night went, I just couldn’t find anywhere that would make the car run better. The higher I would run, the looser it would get. I’d get on the seams and then it would push the front and slide the back. Just never could find anything.

It’s been a great couple years, and I know we’re disappointed about finishing second tonight, but it’s kind of the theme of the year, finishing second.

Unfortunately it’s just one short, but all in all, it’s been a great couple years, and couldn’t be prouder of our bunch of guys.
Q. Kyle was on television, you were watching it, and he said, “This is so cool,” and then he let out a little yell, and I saw you kind of smile a little bit. Did you smile because you were a little bit happy for Kyle or because it brought back memories of how happy you were last year?
KEVIN HARVICK: It’s just exciting. I think when you race your whole life and you accomplish what you’ve raced for your whole life, it’s exciting. I’ve been fortunate to experience that last year and know that feeling and know how gratifying that is. You know, it’s fun to see that excitement.

He broke his leg at Daytona, and to come back from everything that he came back from, it’s like I told you guys three or four days ago, I mean, there’s four phenomenal stories that were sitting up on the stage, probably three that were much more exciting than mine, but that’s a great comeback story from where he was after Daytona.
Q. Kevin, can you talk about the racing tonight? I know tonight was the last race with the current rules package. Are you happy that it’s gone now or maybe a little disappointed just from all the wins that you had this season?
KEVIN HARVICK: Honestly, I hadn’t even really thought about it, to tell you the truth. You put so much effort into what you do currently and the things, it’s really just another race right now, and it’s gone, and we’ll be working on 2016 as soon as we get back to the shop.
I don’t know if it was a good or bad race. I’d have to go back and watch it. We struggled, so it wasn’t as much fun as it probably could have been. But you know, I don’t know the answer to that.
Q. I don’t want to say that yours and Kyle’s careers are parallel, but you’ve both sort of had to overcome things to get to the point to become champions. You are someone who’s had issues with Kyle in the past. Did you ever think he could grow up enough and make it this far and get to this place?
KEVIN HARVICK: You know, I think as you go through time in general, as a person, you mature and you get more mature through time, whether you’re doing dumb things at the racetrack or not and learning from those things. Those obviously are unfortunately part of our life lessons, some more than others, and I think Kyle and I have definitely been on that side of it.

But you know, I think you see that little guy that he holds in his arms, and you know, it puts things in a different perspective. It used to be you didn’t want to have kids because it took the fire out of you from driving the car, and now it seems to have calmed a lot of us down to the point where we can focus and do the things that we need to do to concentrate on our jobs.

He’s overcome a lot, but man, he’s still pretty young. When you really look back at it, I think he’s 30 years old? Yeah, so I mean, it seems like he’s matured a lot, and he has, but he’s still pretty young. I don’t have that excuse. (Laughter.)
Q. Kevin, to have the issues that you guys had, not being able to put the power down and things like that that you mentioned out there, what does it say about the fact that you were able to finish second and run as well as you guys did tonight?
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, I kept looking in the mirror, and I’m like, man, my car just doesn’t absolutely feel great at all, and I never saw anybody in the mirror. So I was like ‑‑ it was a handful and sliding all over the place. I think it says a lot about our team and the fact that they kept fighting. Our guys on pit road did a great job all night. We were able to maintain or gain track position all night long. Our car fired off good. We were able to go through traffic good at the beginning, but as the night went, it seemed like the 18 got better, and we just got ‑‑ we didn’t get any better. We just stayed the same and never could fix the problems that we had.

THE MODERATOR: Kevin Harvick, congratulations on a super season in 2015, and thanks for being such a good champion for NASCAR.


THE MODERATOR: Jeff Gordon has joined us here in the media center at Homestead‑Miami Speedway, the No. 24 car tonight, AXALTA Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports came in sixth in tonight’s championship finale.

Jeff, I know you gave it all you had, and certainly you went out on top, as your career comes to a close here tonight. Certainly it’s got to be a day of emotions and so forth, and maybe just tell these fine folks what you’re thinking right now.

JEFF GORDON: You know, gosh, I’ll be honest, you know, the competitor in me got a little bit ‑‑ just so caught up in the moment of the race where we took the lead and I got really excited, and I thought, okay, we’ve got clean air, let’s see what we have, and I knew we needed a few adjustments. The track was really slick. I actually felt like when I got ahead of Kyle that we actually pulled away from him. I kind of got excited and got my hopes up there, but then Kevin started coming on pretty strong, and then we had that restart, and you know, I knew when those guys got by me I just didn’t quite have what they had. I was just lacking a couple little things.

And then the sun started going down and it really started changing and we lost a bunch of positions and just couldn’t gain them back.

Right now there’s definitely a part of me that is caught up in that moment that we couldn’t make it a little bit better and couldn’t keep up with it. But I thought we showed what we’re made of and what got us here. We fought really hard, fought back, and we finished sixth.

For that I’m proud and excited.

Nothing could have topped the way my day started. I woke up ‑‑ I was planning on sleeping in, and I was too excited, so I woke up a little earlier. Pulled up the shades on my bus, and my mom just happened to be walking by, and so that just made my day start so amazing, to be able to sit down with her on that day, first thing in the morning, and all the emotions and everything were just able to come out, and then we just had a great conversation. And then my stepdad came in and then a little bit later Ingrid and the kids showed up. It was just perfect. Just missed a little bit on the race.

I mean, overall I’m still just extremely proud and excited, not only the way that we ran this weekend and this year, but just my whole career. It felt so good to see Rick Hendrick. I wanted to give him that race helmet. I designed that helmet with the intent of giving it to him.

He’s so special to me, more than just a car owner‑driver relationship, and I was so happy to have that moment getting out of the car with him.
Q. Talking to Rick briefly afterwards, he said basically what you did, that he knows that the competitiveness in you, you wanted to win that race and the championship more than anything. But he was so impressed with everything that has gone on today and leading up to today with kind of NASCAR giving you a sendoff, and he thought at the end that almost maybe meant as much or more than if you had won. I just wondered what you felt about everything that has transpired.
JEFF GORDON: Well, we all know nothing would have been quite better than that and the win. But I’ve learned a lot in life, and there’s no such thing as a perfect day and a perfect life. Just like there’s no such thing as a perfect race car. They’re really close and good and at times better than the rest, but it doesn’t mean that they’re ever perfect.

I think had I won this race and this championship it would have been perfect, and I don’t think I could have accepted that. I wouldn’t have known how to.

But I must say, everything that went on from the stories I saw, the folks in this room who have been covering this sport for a long, long time who know me, the things that were written about me, things that my competitors said ‑‑ I was relaxing in the bus after that conversation with my mom this morning, and I said, oh, I’ll look up Twitter, see what the fans were doing. Little did I know my competitors were going to be tweeting out things, and man, the emotions started going all over again. That’s just unheard of. That’s just to me unheard of that you’re going to be going out competing against individuals, even the ones we were competing against for the championship, when Kevin Harvick took that picture next to my car, that to me ‑‑ I don’t know if it gets much better than that. In that sense, you’re absolutely right.

That sendoff at the drivers’ meeting, you know, drivers are so competitive, and they don’t show ‑‑ they might have it inside them, but to show it publicly, their appreciation for other competitors, just doesn’t happen like that very often, and I really, really appreciate it very, very much. It was extremely special the whole day, and it’s not over yet. I’m looking forward to the rest of the evening, as well.

Real quick, there’s a guy back here I brought with me. This guy right here, it just so happens ‑‑ this is the timing of things, and there’s been a lot of timing of things this week that’s just been blowing my mind. But I’ve got a lot of big fans, obviously, and this weekend, I mean, I’ve seen so much incredible support, but this guy, I’ve seen this guy for years. This guy has been following me since 1995. Take that backpack off real quick. You want to talk about commitment and a loyal fan and a nice guy, this guy is awesome. Show it to us. Come on. Give us some love. Now that right there, folks, that’s commitment. That is commitment.

But I just happened to run into him on the way in here, and I said, man ‑‑ I didn’t mean to show all that, I just wanted him to be here and be a part of it because he’s a huge fan, and I appreciate him and all of our fans so much, especially what I saw this weekend.

All right, sorry.
Q. Would you believe me if I told you that I actually saw him about five hours earlier and interviewed him?
JEFF GORDON: I’m telling you, that guy is awesome.
Q. I know it. I’m on it. I wanted to ask you, and you touched on this a little bit, but you’ve been known to be a fairly emotional kind of guy, but I was standing at your car when you got out of the race tonight, and it felt like everyone else was the one that was getting emotional and you were kind of calming them down or placating them and saying, this is all a good thing. Could you talk about what your emotions were?
JEFF GORDON: Well, again, I told my mom this when I saw her, if you’d have been there you’d have seen a lot of emotions. I needed to get it out, and I did then, and I think it just kind of helped me keep it all in check.

I mean, I’m an emotional person, and I show it, but you know, I prefer to do that in private. Just sometimes the moment overwhelms me, and I can’t hold it in. When I was there with Rick Hendrick after the race, it definitely ‑‑ if he’d have kept going with the things he was saying, it was going to get out of control there.

But yeah, you know, Jordan, who handles all my what we call driver comforts, he does a lot more than that, but he takes care of my seat, my helmet and steering wheel, all these things that get me ready for a race weekend, and he almost got me going right before the race started because he’s usually the last one that gives me a fist pump before I take off, and he’s all choked up crying when he did it, and I was like, man, you can’t do that right before I’m getting ready to pull off. (Laughter.)

So those guys, they mean so much to me. But I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to see all them, and I get to hug on them all night tonight. We’re going to go have a little party afterwards, and it’s going to be fun, whenever you guys are done with me anywhere.
Q. Are you inviting all of us?
JEFF GORDON: Unfortunately I’ve got way too many friends here. It was supposed to be for 200. Now we’ve got 400 that showed up. I don’t know how that happened. What’s another couple hundred?
Q. Jeff, what was your reaction to the fans today from the huge roars during driver introduction to that mob scene as you walked in here with everyone just trying to get hats and the whole thing? What did that mean to you and how did you balance like you were signing things and people were crying because you gave them a signature right at the end? Just that whole emotion from all of it?
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, to me the moment that really struck me if you guys were in the garage area, and I know there was a lot of photographers there at the time, but when I got in the car for the final practice, just happened ‑‑ there was just a lot of people there, and it was ‑‑ I started to sign autographs as I was going to the car like I normally do, but it just kept growing and growing and growing and growing, and the way the infield suites are over the garage area here, there were people up there, and all of a sudden they just started chanting my name, and it was a surreal moment. I had friends that were on the outside looking in, and even they were commenting on it.

There were team members and just different people that were in the garage area that made comments to me, and that one really seemed to hit me the most over the whole weekend.

Today ‑‑ the thing is, you’ve got to understand, even though it was my final race and everything and I wanted to be as gracious and give all that I could back to the fans, I just ‑‑ I had to hold back a little bit because I did want to stay focused and stay on my schedule and my routine that I normally go through because I wanted to put the best out on the racetrack that I possibly could. So it was very cool and I enjoyed it very, very much, but at the same time, in the back of my mind I’m blocking out some things, getting ready for the race.

Those are the things that over the next days, hours, days, weeks, months that I’m going to go relive and just, again, get a huge smile on my face, and probably emotional, as well, for things like that, the way the fans were, you guys. I mean, my gosh, my parents and people keep telling me, Don’t read that one right now. You don’t want to read that one before the race. Wait until after the race.

But very complimentary, very appreciative, and I look forward to pulling all those together and seeing ‑‑ it’s very, very cool that the fans and the competitors and the media treated me that way, and I’ll never forget it.
Q. Getting back to the race and the car was obviously not handling the way you wanted it to, what was the frustration factor, and I presume at some point in the race you probably figured out this was going to be one of those deals that was going to take a real crazy deal for you to win this thing?
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, but you never stop trying to improve it, trying to find things out there, trying to advance positions. You never know what’s going to happen. I didn’t know what was going to happen on that final restart.

To me, you can’t ever give up. That’s the way I work. I get frustrated, and I get a little snappy in there because of that frustration, the adrenaline in the heat of the moment. But luckily I’ve had people working with me that understand what goes through my mind in there and just ‑‑ and Alan was incredibly, incredibly amazing this whole weekend, this whole year, even though we had our moments. The way that he’s handled this team ‑‑ I think those guys are really destined to do some great, great things in the future, and I’m excited for them.

Today, yeah, we kind of lost the handle ‑‑ the track was ‑‑ I just really had a tough time getting the balance, getting a hold of the track. I was tight getting in, and every time we tried freeing it up I started getting real loose off. My car would be good for two laps and then it would really go kind of haywire, and cars would start sort of attacking me, and if I could run about three, four, five more laps then I’d actually start pulling away again.

That’s frustrating, and it was a struggle, but we fought through it, finished sixth, and I’m happy the way it ended. I am. I was happy to have a restart where I made spots up on the restart. That’s something I can be proud of as well as the all the other things I’m proud of.
Q. You’ve gotten a lot of gifts this year. You gave one to all the drivers today. I guess it was a ring box or something?
JEFF GORDON: You can use it however you want. The dividers come out, but the way the dividers are in there I guess you could take it as a ring box, which I think is kind of meaningful for this sport and the rings that we collect.
Q. What led you to pick that?
JEFF GORDON: Shoot, man, I don’t have it, Edwards. Yeah, I had it with me all day, a money clip that Richard Petty gave me in ’92, and so I ‑‑ I don’t know why I held onto that thing, but I just did. I mean, forever I just have had this thing, and I’ve always held onto it. It’s always been special to me, and so I wanted to do something for all the drivers that I was racing against today. I basically used his ‑‑ I said thanks for the memories, just like he did, because I thought of all these things, what can I say, what can I say, and I thought, no, he nailed it. So I put that on there, and I also put the starting position on there, so of course there was a number where everybody started. Of course Keselowski didn’t get it. He didn’t understand what that number was for. (Laughter.)

But the box, I mean, it’s a cool carbon fiber beautiful box, and you know, I just wanted everybody to have something as an appreciation from me to them of what they meant to me racing against them over all the years, and seemed like they appreciated it.
Q. Did you individually present them?
JEFF GORDON: Well, we planned it in advance. They’re actually stuck in customs up until Thursday, which was frightening, but no, I had my dad ‑‑ my stepdad, he went and presented it. He told me he saw in person about 30, 32 of the 43 drivers.
Q. And then my question is, Kyle Busch started his career at Hendrick Motorsports with you. You knew him as raw and temperamental and all those things. As talented as he was, did you ever think that he could grow up enough to win a championship?
JEFF GORDON: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. I don’t know if “grow up enough” is the right term. His talent is so strong, and that team really found some things this year. But I will say that what he went through this year, I see a changed Kyle. I don’t know what it is. I’ve never talked to him and got into details about it. But when he came back, not only was he driven and just inspired by it, but you can tell he was racing smarter, with more patience, just being more deliberate, and I think he just ‑‑ between having a baby, the thing that happened to him at Daytona, the time with his wife, and other things, maybe Joe Gibbs, I don’t know, family, friends, I think that time, he had a lot of time to think about a lot of things, and I don’t know what he did, but he came out of it even better than he was before, and I think he showed it right away when he came back that there was a pretty good chance he was destined to win this championship.
Q. Your decision to retire and the way this whole season played out for you, how important was it to you to go out competitive and go out swinging?
JEFF GORDON: Extremely important. Extremely important to me. You know, I made the decision for a lot of reasons. I don’t want to go into all that, but you know, the timing of it, I knew that I still have a team and the ability to be competitive out there.

I think last year only helped me make the decision because we had such a great year, it only made it easier for me because I knew it was coming. I felt like this was the right time. A lot of things added up to make it the right time, and I was just proud of what I did last year. To me last year was a great year that I could have walked away from the sport, and it was like, yeah, I feel like I went out pretty much on top.

So this year was disappointing in so many ways for a good portion of the season because I thought we had the ability to run like we did last year. I didn’t think that our competition would catch up as much as they did, as well as the rule changes with the power and the aero would affect us as much as it did.

You know, that kind of caught me off guard, and I can’t say that I was enjoying the competition halfway through the season, but then I saw a change, and I saw it start to turn a corner, and I started to think, okay, you know, there’s still a chance that we can end this season by doing it competitively the way that I want to do it. That doesn’t mean that I had to win a championship or even compete for a championship, but I wanted to win a race at least, and I wanted to show that I still have what it takes.

I think the Chase truly showed that. I’m extremely proud of my driving and our team effort over these last 10 races. I think that that’s something that is going to stick with me for a very long time, and how I made the announcement and how we approached the season and how we finished it.
Q. Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton were around your car ‑‑
JEFF GORDON: How cool was that?
Q. Do you see yourself in their league?
JEFF GORDON: Nobody is in Mario Andretti’s league. That’s like a whole ‘nother league.
I don’t think of things like that. I have a lot of respect for other forms of Motorsports. I’ve always been a huge ‑‑ my mom was a Mario Andretti fan, I was a huge fan of Mario, especially because he ran sprint cars and USAC and knowing he ran stock cars I believe he’s the greatest driver of all time, Formula 1, all the things he did.

Lewis I met a couple years ago at the Super Bowl. I’ve liked Formula 1 ever since I drove the Formula 1 car. I always have been fond of that sport, and I’ve followed it I don’t want to say religiously, but if you asked me what sport do you watch the most besides NASCAR, I’d say Formula 1, then NFL. And so I was already a fan of his, and then he went and won the championship, and we just stayed in touch, and then this year I’ve been in touch with him and cheering him on and just communicating with him.

I’ve been trying to get him to come to a race, and it just so happens today was the race that he was able to come to, and I can’t think of a better race for him to come to.

Having those two guys ‑‑ and I don’t know if they had ever met before. I’m not sure because it was so cool having them at the car together and getting a picture with those three, and Lewis was so cool. He was asking a million questions. I mean, he wanted to know everything about the cars, the competition, the tires, the track, everything, my steering wheel. You know, he’s a racer, and I love that, and Mario was just cool as can be, just, “Man, go do what you know how to do, you’ve got this, man.” That was a great moment.

I don’t necessarily say I’m at their league. I just have great respect for them, and I was happy they were here supporting me and being there at the car.
Q. Do you think Kyle Busch could ever be in your league in the sense of could he win 90 races and four championships?
JEFF GORDON: I mean, yeah. He’s more talented than I am. If he keeps racing the way that he did this year, to me the edge that I always had on Kyle, as talented as he is, as fast as he is, is that sometimes he never knew where to stop pushing the car to the edge, and especially at a track like this when you’re right up against the wall, taking the right side off of it, and we saw it even in the XFINITY Series, you know, yesterday. If you can put pressure on him, you can kind of force him to push it over the edge because he’s capable of pushing it so far.

But this year I saw a new Kyle Busch and one that he held back at the times when he needed to, and that’s important. And if he continues on that path, to do that and the team continues to give him the equipment they gave him, then yeah, yeah, absolutely.

I’m always a big believer on somebody who’s been close to winning a championship but not ‑‑ but hasn’t pulled it off. I’ve said this about Jimmie before he got his first championship: If he ever gets one, watch out, because once you believe in yourself and you get confidence and you know what it takes to do it and you’re not second‑guessing what you’re doing and you pull it off, watch out, you can go on a tear, and Jimmie did that, and I think Kyle is another one of those drivers that can do that, as well.
Q. You mentioned the money clip The King gave everybody in ’92. Have you actually kept that with you week to week?
Q. Do you have it during races?
JEFF GORDON: No, originally I just had it in a drawer in my bedroom with other things that were memorable to me, USAC championship rings, and I’m trying to think of other things that were pre‑1995 where I won a championship. And then the drawer turned into a safe, and that was one of the things that I’ve always held on to with other memorable things, and as I’ve collected rings from races and championships, that’s always something that’s stayed in that safe along with those other things.
Q. What do you think tomorrow morning is going to feel like without a ‑‑
JEFF GORDON: I’m going to be hurting.
Q. Besides that, once the aspirin and everything gets going.
JEFF GORDON: You mean tomorrow afternoon.
Q. Or Tuesday or whatever. What do you think it’s going to feel like without a next race to look forward to for the first time in a very long time?
JEFF GORDON: On one hand I’m really looking forward to that because I put so much into wanting to be the best and be competitive that I can be for my team every weekend, that, you know, I’m kind of ready to take a shift in that. I’m still going to, I think, apply that same kind of competitiveness to doing my job up in the booth and some of the other things that I’m going to be doing. I know I just have that in me naturally, but to know that I don’t have to go out there and run the car an inch off the wall, try to find another tenth or two, some of the restarts, testing ‑‑ I’m definitely looking forward to not going and doing any testing. Jack and I said, hey, would you be willing to go do some testing? No way.

So that I feel really good about, that I’m not going to miss.

But when you watch a competitor go out there and pull off a great win or pull off a championship, you know, there’s nothing like that feeling, and I’m going to miss being a part of something like that.
Q. You didn’t win tonight, but seeing everything that went on today, the fan support, the support from the drivers, do you take some bigger feeling out of this than maybe just a championship?
JEFF GORDON: Again, right now it’s hard for me to ‑‑ give me an hour and a little bit of alcohol and absolutely, I’m going to be ‑‑ there’s going to be so much love in the air, and I am going to be just ‑‑ everybody I see, talking more about the career and the moments and what it’s meant to me to ‑‑ the thing that ‑‑ it’s so hard for me to describe because when I see these ‑‑ and this is why me and my mom having this conversation was so important to me, because like we talked about some ‑‑ I had no idea, there was a TV station that came and filmed our Quarter Midget race and me in particular at that Quarter Midget race when I was like six or seven years old, and I never understood why. I was like, why did they come do that? Well, I found out I was on the cover of this kids’ magazine with my Quarter Midget, and this is the genius of my stepdad. He thinks about stuff like this. I don’t know how that all came about, but somebody in San Francisco saw that magazine, they wanted to do a story because they needed content, and they decided to come follow some kids at a Quarter Midget track and said, We’re going to put the main focus on this young kid Jeff who’s doing well and winning races there.

To come from that, all the way to this, and have these experiences, it blows my mind. It blows my mind.

So yes, when I think ‑‑ start getting into that and thinking of that, there’s no doubt that just being here a part of this day, wrapping up this amazing career, there’s no doubt in my mind that it didn’t take the championship for me to come out of here feeling like I’m on top of the world, and I am. I just can’t help the competitor in me still is cutting into that slightly right now.

But I’ll loosen up and I’ll be fine a little bit later.
Q. What does a boy talk to his mother about on the morning of one of his momentous days?
JEFF GORDON: Oh, you’re a bad man. Well, of course it started with just ‑‑ I mean, as soon as I saw her, I got emotional. Before she even came in the bus, I just saw her, and I said, yeah, I’m bringing her in here right now.

You know, she was not prepared for what was about to happen, I promise you. She walked in, and we started hugging and talking, and I just started thanking her over and over and over again for all that they did for me. To experience this weekend alone, because she wasn’t at the track, my stepdad was, and he’d go back to the hotel and tell her some of the things that were happening or they were reading some of the articles that you very generous and sweet people were writing because that makes parents very, very proud of their child.

So she was ‑‑ firstly just started being very, very thankful of getting here and being a part of this and how special it was that I saw her at that time because I didn’t know they were coming to the track at that time, and just happen to happen. It was perfect.

And then, yeah, we just kind of followed along those lines with some of that stuff, and I just said to her, “Mom, I wish you could have been here yesterday and saw when I walked over the car. It would have blown you away because it blew me away,” and she’s like, “Yeah, John told me a little bit about that and that’s so cool and then we read this article and then we read that. That’s awesome. We’re so proud.” And that led to some other things I was talking about.

And then we got off to a completely different subject, just talking about my sister and family and life and what’s going on here and there and just stuff like that, had a coffee. We had coffee together.
Q. When you talk about emotional, is it tears, it’s ‑‑
JEFF GORDON: It’s boohooing as loud as a person can boohoo. It was when she got in the bus. She was holding back. She got emotional but she was keeping herself in check. I think she was wanting me to not lose control, so she was trying to be the stronger person, but I didn’t care, I was like, I want to get it out right now before I walk out of this bus. So there was tears pouring down my face. I was like, yes, perfect, with my mom, before the race day started, I can recover from this. I think I can get through the day now.
Q. That’s what moms are for.
Q. Jeff, we’ve talked about mom, but your stepdad said a couple weeks ago that after this weekend it’s not only an end for you, it’s an end for him because ever since you were a child he’s been involved in some way. He’s had something to do, someplace to go, and now he’s not sure what’s really next for him, either. What conversations have you had with him or what conversations do you think ‑‑
JEFF GORDON: What are you guys trying to do to me right here? My gosh. This is out of control. Ugh. Can you serve some alcohol at this? My gosh. Food and alcohol would be very, very appreciated right now.

He says that? I don’t know if I believe him. I’ll be honest, this guy loves to work. He loves what he does, and the best thing that ever happened to me was him stepping away and then us reuniting and getting back together, and life and business and everything has never been better.

But he has orchestrated, as he does so well, an incredible team, surrounding me with people at JG, Incorporated. He’s just such a team player, and I hope that doesn’t ever go away. That guy likes to keep himself busy. I don’t see him ever going away. We both want to take a step back and maybe do some different things, and I’ll be utilizing his expertise as often as I can.

But I think, you know, for both of us, to change our career path or our lives in a big, drastic way after this year I think is only fitting. You know, it makes sense to me. I couldn’t be more proud ‑‑ I think he’s very, very proud of what he’s accomplished, and it wouldn’t have happened without him, and however he wants to transition, I support it 100 percent.

THE MODERATOR: Jeff Gordon, I’ve said it before and I’m going to say it again, class act.

JEFF GORDON: Thank you all. I appreciate it very much. I’ll be coming in here as a member of the media in the future, so you’ll be seeing more of me. But this is the last time you’ll see me in a driving suit, but it’s been a pleasure. Thank you.


THE MODERATOR: Our next Championship 4 driver, coming in 12th tonight, Martin Truex Jr.
He’s the driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Denver Mattress Chevrolet for Furniture Row Racing. I know you’re disappointed you didn’t get the prize you wanted to get, but what a super season the No. 78 team had.

MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, obviously a little disappointed in the way we ran this weekend, just never could ‑‑ really never could quite hit on anything to get the car to do the things we needed it to. Not from a lack of effort. The guys really put a lot of effort into bringing this car here and really throughout the weekend we tried a lot, and we worked really hard on it.

We weren’t ‑‑ we didn’t have much speed in practice, and we changed a lot last night on it trying to kind of go a different direction. Just never could quite hit on it. So a little disappointed in our run, but super proud of our season and really proud to come this far to come from 24th in points last year to 4th this year is a pretty big step, and I don’t think most people realize just how big of a deal it is and how hard it was for us to get that far.

Really proud of Joe and Barney and just everybody at our team, everybody back in Denver. You know, got to thank everybody obviously at ECR for great engines, and everybody at RCR for the past two years. The alliance we had with those guys worked really well, and really want to say “thank you” to them for treating us like one of their own.

You know, that’s about it. Just a little disappointed in the way we ran here. This used to be a really good track for me, and the past two races it’s just been a struggle. Hopefully we can figure it out and be back in this position next year and try to figure out a way to battle for this thing.
Q. Were you surprised that you guys made as many changes overnight to the car?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Not really, just because of the fact that we were racing three other guys, and we knew all three of them were better than us yesterday. Without ‑‑ we really felt like without trying something quite different, we weren’t going to get there because we had tried so many different things throughout practice, different packages, to try to get the feel or get some ‑‑ really get some grip in the car. It just was never there for us. So we figured we had to take a big swing at it, and honestly I don’t think it really was any worse than it was in practice. We just never could quite hit on it. No matter what we did, it wouldn’t turn and you couldn’t use the throttle at all, either. We fought both problems all weekend, and really if we could have maybe made some gains on at least one of the problems, we might have been a little better.

We just couldn’t get it to do anything we wanted. A little frustrated in that, but a great effort, and I guess you have days like these. Just unfortunate it was when everything was on the line.
Q. I’m sure there will be some people who say, hey, Furniture Row Racing ought to be happy that they got here, but I suspect that what you guys have accomplished this season will probably only inspire you to do more. Will that be the attitude that you kind of take back into the start of next season?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, for sure. I mean, we were definitely up against a lot here. The odds were against us for sure. You know, obviously really proud of everybody, like I said, and you know, we didn’t come here saying we were going to be okay finishing fourth. We came here and really tried everything in our power, everything we knew how to do, to put together our best performance. It just wasn’t in the cards for us.

I think this is great motivation for us for next year. I think that with the things we have coming and going to Toyota and teaming up with JGR and all that stuff, I think the future is bright for this team, and we’re keeping all our guys together, and hopefully this is our first season battling for a championship but not our last. I really feel strong that this is a special group of guys, and if we can keep that together for hopefully the rest of my career, I’d love to drive for them.

We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. You never know what the future holds, but excited already about next year, and I think we’ll be back here in mid‑December testing already for next year. Not a whole lot of rest, and looking forward to spending a week or so down here relaxing and having a few beers, catching a few fish, and really just let it all soak in what we’ve been able to accomplish, and really proud of everybody on our team.
Q. Talk about your pit stop strategy, especially you went with two tires quite a few times but then you went with four in the last stop.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, we did. We were just trying ‑‑ we had to try something. We weren’t getting anywhere. We made just about every adjustment we could possibly make on our race car and never really seemed like we could find that speed, so we were just taking some gambles. We did two early and it worked out for us pretty well. We did two later on and the race went green longer than we had hoped and we probably lost two spots because of it. But I think all in all at the end of the day, net‑net, we kind of ended up where we should have. We just didn’t have the speed, so we were trying to gamble on some things and trying to get some track position any way we could, just couldn’t hang onto it.

THE MODERATOR: Martin, congratulations on an outstanding season in 2015, and we know that you will be back competing again for a championship next season.

MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Thank you. Thanks, everybody. Have a good off‑season.