Jimmie Johnson makes contact with Jeb Burton sending Burton spinning, David Ragan and Kevin Harvick get caught in the aftermath.
NASCAR on NBC crew go in-depth on Gordon's choice to step away Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live MORE: NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France statement on Gordon " Gordon hub page RELATED: Drivers react to Gordon's announcement " Fans share favorite Gordon memories CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- 2015 marks the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at the start of a 10-year relationship between NASCAR and NBC Sports. It also marks Jeff Gordon 's final one. The NASCAR on NBC broadcasting team of Jeff Burton , Steve Letarte and Rick Allen touched on Gordon's recent announcement that this would be his last full-time Cup season on Tuesday during Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom, each with their own spin on it, as a driver, crew chief and broadcaster. The trio gets into why Gordon would have made this decision to leave NASCAR at the top of his game, what he's been missing out on in his personal life and how they think he'll fare in 2015. Jeff Burton , 21-time Sprint Cup Series winner "The starting age is starting sooner. When a guy can start sooner, that means they're probably going to retire sooner. You love what you're doing, but it's a really stressful way to make a living. What I came to believe was the season was perpetual; it never stopped. Everybody looks at it where there's a 2014 and 2015 schedule -- and there are, for points -- but from a lifestyle standpoint and a commitment standpoint, it's from January to January. It doesn't stop. So when you do that for 20 years, it's hard to bring that same level of intensity that you did on year 20 as you did on year one. I think that's why you see drivers retiring. "To be quite honest, this generation of drivers has been really fortunate to be able, financially, to retire. In the sixties, that didn't happen. The fact that we're starting younger, the fact that, financially, it's better in the sport than it's ever been. The fact that it is very intense. It's hard on your family, it is a commitment not only for the drivers that the crew chiefs and everybody involved, it's a commitment for the families, too. When you don't get to see your kid graduate, when you don't get to see your daughter leave to go to the prom and all those kinds of things start happening later in life as you have children, they start to mean more. So all of those things start to factor in. "It is a great thing when a guy like Jeff Gordon can retire when he's at the top of the game. He was a real serious contender for the championship (in 2014) and to be able to say 'Hey, this is my last year,' I think that's a great thing, it's wonderful that he can do it, but there's a lot of factors that go into that." RELATED: NBC Sports 'thrilled' to be part of NASCAR coverage Steve Letarte, 15-time Sprint Cup Series-winning crew chief "The sport is difficult. The Cup garage is one of the most competitive places I've ever seen. For a driver or crew chief, you have to bring your A-game week in and week out, 36 races over the course of the year. Jeff's point was accurate -- the season never ends. We might not race for a few weeks or a few months but there's so much work that has to be done over those few months that really you never get a chance to step away and I wouldn't give back a single year of my career as a crew chief, I loved every race, every minute of it. But just like Jeff said, I missed my little girl's first communion. "There's a lot of things you have to sacrifice and basically you have to get to a point where you look in a mirror and decide 'Am I as good as I can be? Does my team deserve better? Am I bringing all the effort I can bring?' and I felt like I did that last year but at some point, I felt like I would be the hold up to my race team. Dale Jr. was committed, the guys on the team were committed. They make the same sacrifices and if you can't bring the same intensity as you brought last year or the year before then you really have to look in the mirror and make another decision. "I mean, to be quite frank, who knew what possibilities were out there for me, but the NBC team is great and I'm glad to be on it and it really gives me an opportunity to still cover a sport that I love at what seems to be a cut back schedule compared to being a crew chief but my second family is still in the NASCAR garage and I still get to see them for a big chunk of the year." RELATED: NBC, Offerman 'park and wreck' way into NASCAR Rick Allen, NBC Sports commentator and lead race announcer "I'm actually already trying to write the script for when Jeff Gordon wins the championship at Homestead in his final race in the Sprint Cup Series. There are some incredible storylines coming into the 2015 season that we get to cover. The excitement level, I think, is growing continuously and I can't wait to be a part of that." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Kyle Larson makes contact with Landon Cassill sending Cassill in to the wall at Bristol Motor Speedway.
NBC Sports analysts give thoughts on 2014 Chase, what we'll see in 2015 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Related: Burton , Letarte explain Jeff Gordon's major decision By now, it's safe to say that last season's revamped Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and the drama surrounding its race action immediately left us speechless, but eventually kept us talking. With NBC Sports' NASCAR tenure set to resume this season after nine years away from the sport, its all-star crew of Jeff Burton , Dale Jarrett, Steve Letarte and Kyle Petty gave their thoughts last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour presented by Technocom on the new format -- what they enjoyed and what we're bound to see in 2015. According to these NASCAR heavyweights, it sounds like we're going to see even more intense action than last year, as hard as that is to imagine. Jeff Burton , 21-time Sprint Cup Series winner "I've always believed that I was giving 100 percent. That no matter where I was in points, no matter what was going on, that I brought everything that I could bring. This points structure made you bring more. And it made the teams find a way to be better. And I think in our sport, that's what this is all about. It's about being better. You're good in April? Hey, that's great. But if you're not good enough in August and September, it ain't good enough. "The idea that you have to improve throughout the whole year -- that if you win a race, you're in -- but points still matter. I think all of that is really cool. I would hate it if points didn't matter. I know that everybody wanted the guy that won the most races and the right races to be the champion, but points should still matter. It's always been a big part of this sport and it still currently is today. So the fact that points matter, the fact that winning covers up all other mistakes and the fact that you have to be right at the right time; that's what a crunch moment is all about. "As a fan of all kinds of sports, the reason I like the Super Bowl is because if you don’t win, you lose. You go home. … And that's the mentality that has been brought to in racing today. You have to win. Or you have to compete at an exceptionally high level or you're not going to win a championship; you're not going to get done what you need to get done. I like the fact that it's made it harder for the teams, it's made it more intense for the teams. The more intense and the more stressful it is for the competitors, the more fun it is to watch. And this points structure has been without a doubt all those things." Dale Jarrett, NASCAR Hall of Famer " Jeff put it better than I think I've ever heard it put it before. Everything that he's saying there, he was spot-on with that. I think if you look back over the years, no matter how long we've been around this, whenever you have made things more difficult for the drivers, it's more entertaining for the fans and I think that's exactly what this did. "Last year at (Media Tour), we heard a lot of drivers … say 'Look, I race as hard as I can every week, I can't do anymore to try to win than what I do.' I understand that. I know the mentality. We've been there. We've done that. But, I think it proved out that if there is something different, just as Jeff was pointing out, you have to dig down and find another way to make yourself a part of that. "Kyle Busch said something (last week) about his issue at Talladega and what happened to him. That was very unfortunate, because he had done everything right to get himself moved on. He said, 'You know, if I'd got the job done a week before, and won that race, Talladega wouldn't have mattered.' So they've got a different mentality. "There's no perfect system out there, because everybody is not going to agree with it, but my gosh, we came pretty close. That was as exciting a 10-race schedule as I've ever seen in this sport." Steve Letarte, 15-time Sprint Cup Series-winning crew chief "I think that's going to be one of the biggest stories, is how are teams going to adapt? I was only able to take part in one (season) of this new Chase format and I know we learned a lot. It was a great season with a little bit of a letdown in the second round, but there were a lot of teams that have that same feeling. It's going to be an interesting take on 'How can I approach these 10 races differently? Is there a different way that maybe my team should've moved through? What crew chiefs are going to have a different approach? What drivers are going to put different weights on different race tracks?' "You have to be at Homestead. I think that's what's unique about this playoff style. No matter how good of a year you've had, if you slip up, you can overcome with a win, but that's the only way you're going to overcome. And these short, three-race segments you really have to win or have a great three races to move forward. I think we saw some big hitters, some championship favorites last year get knocked out as the playoffs went on and I think that's a big difference from in the years past where you maybe always had a chance. This year, your chances, your book can be closed. Your year can be over. And then we go to Homestead and I don't think we could've asked for a better race at Homestead last year. I don't think that's going to be a rarity. "I think when it's all on the line, the four teams that have a chance are probably always going to find that next level to step up and put on a great race." Kyle Petty, eight-time Sprint Cup Series winner "Being at the race track and being down there with it. … Dale's been in a championship chase, I was with my father (Richard Petty) in the late 70s and you get down and it's two guys working for a championship and the intensity in those two teams was always overwhelming. When The King and Darrell (Waltrip) went at it, man, it was crazy that year. I didn't know what was going to happen that year and I was just a kid. But the intensity went to a different place and Darrell and The King went to a different place, as far as what they did on the race track and how they performed on the race track. Great drivers and great teams always find a way to step up. "What we saw in the Chase was a lot of teams find that ability to step up. Step up in that first round; step up in that second round. The intensity just got greater and greater and greater. To be a part of that and to be able to try to convey to the race fans at home exactly what Dale Jr. was feeling or Steve Letarte felt sitting on that pit box last year or what Dale Jarrett felt in the car when he was racing for the championship going into that last race and the butterflies and how he felt. I think that's what this Chase brings and that's what we can bring." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NBC Sports on-air analysts Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte weigh in on Jeff Gordon's announcement that 2015 will be his last full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series.
Bowyer's wife, Lorra, expecting couple's first child Clint Bowyer's "baby watch" continues. As a result of that, his team has made appropriate accommodations for this week's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway (Sept. 28, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN). Jeff Burton will be on standby for the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing team. Burton has 40 career starts at Dover, 15 of which ended with top-10s. He also won once at the 1-mile concrete oval, in 2006. If called upon, it would be the third time since August Burton has served as a fill-in. He made two starts for Tony Stewart , in consecutive weeks at Michigan and Bristol, before Stewart returned to his seat in Atlanta. Burton has also made two starts in the No. 66 Toyota this year, at Las Vegas and New Hampshire. Bowyer is 19th in the standings after not qualifying for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. His wife Lorra is due to deliver their first child, a boy -- which Bowyer had previously announced in a very Bowyer-esque manner. MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL CHASE COVERAGE • Chase hub page • Chase Grid games • #MyChaseNation
Brett Moffitt to drive No. 66 car at Michigan; Burton will run at New Hampshire in July
Jeff Burton looks back on his NASCAR career and talks about his decision to retire from racing.
Johnny Sauter spins after making contact with contact with teammate Jeb Burton late in the race setting up a green-white-checkered finish at Texas Motor Speedway.
Jamie McMurray describes his plan for the ice-bucket challenge, and Jeff Burton fills in for the Cup race in Michigan. All that, and more, on this episode of GarageCam.