MORE: Kenseth's suspension upheld " Kenseth, Gibbs discuss final penalty Erik Jones will drive for the suspended Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 Toyota in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM) at Texas Motor Speedway , according to a Joe Gibbs Racing official. A series of appeals of Kenseth's two-race suspension were heard on Thursday in Concord, North Carolina. Ultimately, the two-race suspension was upheld. Jones is also on the entry list for the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway next weekend (Nov. 15, 2:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM). RELATED: Entry list for Phoenix Jones, 19, filled in for Denny Hamlin (in the No. 11 Toyota) in the Bristol spring race in April when neck spasms flared up for Hamlin during a lengthy weather delay at the 0.533-mile track. Jones made his first Sprint Cup start in May at Kansas for the injured Kyle Busch (in the No. 18 Toyota) and was enjoying a nice run until an accident on Lap 196 sent him to a 40th-place finish. RELATED: Jones discusses busy weekend With this addition to the schedule, Texas will be a tripleheader weekend for Jones. The points leader in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will race Friday night in the WinStar World Casino 350 (8:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM) and will also run in the NASCAR XFINITY Series race, the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge (3:30 p.m. ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM) on Saturday afternoon as well. This latest opportunity comes as Kenseth has been parked by NASCAR for his actions at Martinsville Speedway last weekend. NASCAR suspended Kenseth for two races on Tuesday for his role in a crash with Joey Logano at Martinsville Sunday. The 2003 champion was also placed on probation for six months by the sanctioning body, but that was lowered to through December 31, 2015 in the appeals process. Kenseth and Logano wrecked on Lap 454 and the incident occurred as Logano was leading the race and Kenseth was several laps down. "Based upon our extensive review, we have concluded that the No. 20 car driver, who is no longer in the Chase, intentionally wrecked the No. 22 car driver, a Chase-eligible competitor who was leading the race at the time," Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer, said in a statement announcing the suspension. "The No. 20 car was nine laps down, and eliminated the No. 22 car's opportunity to continue to compete in the race. "Additionally, we factored aspects of safety into our decision, and also the fact that the new Chase elimination format puts a premium on each and every race. These actions have no place in NASCAR." Logano pressured and eventually spun Kenseth in a late-race battle for the lead two weeks earlier at Kansas Speedway . Logano, having already advanced to the next round in the Chase with a win the previous week at Charlotte, continued on to victory and was unapologetic for his aggressive racing in his post-race remarks.
The Dirty Air Podcast crew takes a look a Jeff Gordon's chances to go out on top and claim his fifth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship.
Podcast includes each noteworthy storyline from Championship 4 As the season comes to a close at the championship weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway , the Dirty Air Podcast has a lot to talk about. Who will win the finale and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship? Chuck Bush, Jonathan Merryman and Matthew Dillner break down the story lines of the four drivers left competing for the title. • Log on to the iTunes Store and subscribe • Or watch the full replay on YouTube With many incredible storylines within the Championship 4, including Kevin Harvick defending his title, Martin Truex Jr . racing as the underdog and Kyle Busch 's legendary comeback. Perhaps the most buzzed about story, however, is Jeff Gordon as he attemps to put an exclamation point on a Hall of Fame career by hitting a walk off with a fifth title. Gordon made his debut in 1992 for the Hooters 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway , a race debated as one of the most dramatic championship-deciding races in the history of the sport. The Dirty Air trio examines the uncanny similarities between the '92 Atlanta finale and this year's NASCAR championship title bout at Homestead.
RELATED: Race results " 2015 final standings HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Team owner Joe Gibbs sees Daniel Suárez as a big part of the future -- not only for NASCAR but for his team. Part of the equation is about the 23-year-old’s talents as the driver who just earned Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Suárez moved up to fifth in the final series standings with his sixth-place effort in Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . But a lot of it is about how Suárez got to that point, advancing through NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program to become a factor in both the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series this year. "It's exciting for our sport," Gibbs said. "I don't think I've been in any business meeting the last five years where (somebody) didn't say 'We've got to reach the Hispanic market.' It's a big deal for us to have Daniel on board. "It helps me from the standpoint that I want to be a good partner in every part of NASCAR. We've been heavily involved in the ( Drive for) Diversity program with a number of different guys. We think it's good for our sport. I know it is. I think our sport belongs in every part of the market in America and I think this is a big step." Suárez is the first Mexican driver and second Drive for Diversity product to win Sunoco Rookie of the Year in one of NASCAR's national series. Although he didn't win an XFINITY race, he won three Coors Light Pole Awards, recorded 18 top-10 finishes and placed second to Joey Logano at Bristol Motor Speedway . "It's been a long journey so far, but a very fun one," Suárez says. "We had a goal early in the year to get the Rookie of the Year, be strong and try to contend for some wins. We didn't win, but we were close several times. We ran in the front. I don't think it was a surprise to see the ARRIS No. 18 in the front, which for me was something really good." Suárez, has been fast ever since arriving on the scene from Monterrey, Mexico, where he was accustomed to open-wheel racing and road courses, not ovals. He was Rookie of the Year in NASCAR’s Mexico Series in 2010. Advancing to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East for Rev Racing, he placed third in the 2013 standings with nine top-10 finishes. But he's also had a lot to learn [[ from mastering the English language to mastering how to handle NASCAR's race cars and tracks. "These cars are different," he says. "They are so aero-dependent and to move around the race track, '’m not used to that. When I was racing in Mexico, you used to start in one line and I was used to staying in that lane. So, all this is new to me." Saturday's race was a tribute to how far Suárez has come. After qualifying on the front row, he dropped all the way to 16th, a lap down, after his team was penalized for a loose tire in the pits. Clawing his way back into contention, he was one of only 10 finishers on the lead lap. His sixth-place finish enabled him to bump veteran Elliott Sadler (13th) from the fifth and final seat at Monday night's XFINITY championship banquet. Still, Suárez, who gained additional experience by driving 13 races for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series, knows he has a long way to go. "There is a huge difference between racing fast, racing in the front and winning a race," he says. "And this is one of the steps I have to make for next year. This was one of my goals for this year. I didn’t get that one. So in the offseason I am looking forward to working as hard as possible with my team to take that next step and win races." As for a chance to drive in the Sprint Cup Series, Suárez believes that will come in due time. "I feel if I'm in the right place and with the right people to make that step at the right time," he said, "But for now we need to focus on what we're doing right now." His owner will be watching closely. "We are really proud of Daniel," Gibbs said. "He has done a fantastic job both on and off the track and I know ARRIS and Toyota are extremely excited to have him earn this honor. "He has been consistent throughout the year but also showed improvement each week and that really showed up as he returned to tracks for a second time. He has put a lot into this and I'm just thrilled for him and his family, the team, and everyone that supports him, both here and back in Mexico.
NASCAR has partnered with the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE), a recently formed alliance of major sports leagues, associations, media networks and educators created to promote diversity and equality through sports. NASCAR Chairman Brian France will help steer the new initiative, established by Miami Dolphins majority owner Stephen Ross, as a founding member of the RISE Board of Directors, serving alongside the commissioners of the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, and other top sports executives. The board will convene for its first meeting today. "I applaud Stephen Ross for launching RISE and am honored to serve on the Board of Directors. Diversity is one of our top priorities at NASCAR and we have made tremendous strides in recent years," said France. The partnership reinforces NASCAR's overall commitment to diversity and inclusion during what's been a strong year for the sport. The national series now feature three driver graduates of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity development program including NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kyle Larson and pair of NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers -- Daniel Suarez and Darrell Wallace Jr . -- who are in competition for 2015 Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors. In addition, more than 25 NASCAR Drive for Diversity crew member alums have pitted for national series race teams this season. On Saturday, Mike Russell, jackman for the No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing team, could become the first African-American graduate to win a national series title as Chris Buescher tries to clinch the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series championship. "The NASCAR Drive for Diversity program has produced some of our sport’s top drivers and crew members, and the RISE partnership will have a tremendous impact on our continued expansion in the long-term," said France. "Perhaps most importantly, we look forward to working with all of the other major sports leagues and television networks to lead on this important social issue." Ross' vision for RISE focuses on leveraging the power of sport -- and prominent voices across the sports landscape -- to build a "nation of understanding, respect and equality." The non-profit organization seeks to create meaningful dialogue around racial relations and timely issues, as well as educational programming that will help athletes, coaches and executives promote racial sensitivity. LeBron James and Tom Brady are among the top tier athletes pledging support for RISE, and multiple stars appear in a national public service announcement campaign on RISEtoWin.org . "We are pleased to have NASCAR join the unprecedented alliance of professional sports leagues and organizations, media networks, educators and athletes that have joined RISE. Together we will work to harness the unifying power of sport to advance race relations and we are grateful for their partnership and support," said Ross.
RELATED: Full race results " Race recap SHOP: Champion gear In a season fit for the silver screen, Kyle Busch completed his emotional comeback from a devastating season-opening injury to capture his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title. Busch took home the 2015 championship by being the top finisher among the Championship 4 drivers, which also included Kevin Harvick , Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr ., in the Ford EcoBoost 400 on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Busch led 41 laps on the day and the last seven of the 267-lap event for his first career postseason win as a member of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field. "Rowdy" spent much of the race running in the top two and took the lead from Brad Keselowski for good shortly after the Lap 261 restart. Busch then distanced himself from Harvick, the series' 2014 champion, who finished as the runner-up in the race and final standings. Gordon finished sixth in his final race, while Truex finished 12th. "This is just so unbelievable, so amazing and means so much right here, right now and probably will for a long, long time to come," Busch said on the championship stage at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "The opportunity that the amount of people that have poured their life and soul into everything that Kyle Busch does and is about -- from M&M's to Toyota to Snickers and Twix and Skittles, Joe Gibbs (team owner) and his family and all of Joe Gibbs Racing , everyone that gave me such a fast race car here tonight to drive . It was so much fun. "This is just a dream come true and my family, my wife, my son -- to have him this year and to have everything we've gone through this year to be in this moment -- I don't know what else to say, but this is so special." The title makes the Busch brothers -- Kurt won the 2004 championship -- the second pair of brothers in NASCAR to win premier series championships. The Labonte brothers also have accomplished that with Terry winning titles in 1984 and 1996 and Bobby winning in 2000. RELATED: See all the premier series champions The 2015 season started off in a frightening fashion for Busch. A crash in the season-opening NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway left him with a broken right leg and a broken left foot. Busch missed the first 11 points races of the season before returning in the middle of May for the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway . Matt Crafton , David Ragan and Erik Jones each took turns behind the wheel of the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing . NASCAR granted Busch a waiver to make the Chase provided he was able to win a race and crack the top 30 in points before the end of the 26-race regular season at Richmond International Raceway . It took Busch just over a month to find Victory Lane and he did so at Sonoma Raceway, holding off his brother. That sparked a stretch of four wins in five races for the 30-year-old, including three straight wins at Kentucky Speedway , New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway . He nearly pulled off a fourth straight win at Pocono Raceway but ran out of gas on the final lap. RELATED: See all the 2015 winners For the second half of the waiver requirement, Busch cracked the top 30 in points after the race at Watkins Glen International in August and secured his spot in the Chase after the Darlington race, which was the second-to-last race of the regular season. The Chase provided an early test for Busch as a wreck at New Hampshire and a 37th-place finish left him on the outside looking in of advancing to the Contender Round heading to Dover International Speedway . However, he was able to rally to advance with a runner-up finish at the "Monster Mile." Contact with Kyle Larson near the entrance of pit road at Charlotte in the Contender Round opener derailed a promising day for Busch and left him needing strong performances at Kansas Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway to make the Eliminator Round. Busch delivered at both, gaining the spots he needed late at Talladega, which was where he was involved in a wreck the previous year that took him out of the Chase. Busch was a model of consistency in the Eliminator Round with three top-five finishes to advance on points to the Championship 4. The title season was also a big one off the track for Busch as he and wife Samantha welcomed son Brexton in May, just days after Busch's return to competition. During Championship 4 Media Day, Busch and Joe Gibbs revealed that Busch had inked a contract extension days after the news of Mars extension as sponsor on the No. 18 Toyota was announced. The Sprint Cup championship is the first for crew chief Adam Stevens, who was in his first year as a pit boss in the Sprint Cup Series, and the fourth (and first since 2005) for Gibbs. It was also the first Sprint Cup championship for manufacturer Toyota. "We are extremely proud of Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing on winning the Sprint Cup Series driver's championship," said Ed Laukes, vice president of marketing, performance and guest experience for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. "It's an incredible accomplishment for Kyle, to overcome the adversity he faced this year and come back with the focus and determination he has had to win races, qualify for the Chase and then earn the ultimate prize, his first Sprint Cup Series championship. "Winning this NASCAR championship has been a huge aspiration for Toyota since joining NASCAR in 2004. We are honored to finally be on this stage and join Kyle and Joe Gibbs for our first Sprint Cup Series title." Championship weekend was a banner one for the 30-year-old Busch. In addition to his Sprint Cup championship, Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Erik Jones won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship on Friday night and KBM won the owner's championship in that series.
RELATED: Full practice results Reaching a top speed of 169.470 mph in his No. 42 HScott Motorsports with Chip Ganassi Chevrolet, Kyle Larson topped the leaderboard early in Friday's final NASCAR XFINITY Series practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway . The Sprint Cup Series regular is making his 14th and final XFINITY start of the season. Roush Fenway Racing 's Elliott Sadler -- who will drive for Dale Earnhardt Jr .-owned JR Motorsports next season -- nabbed the second spot on the charts, piloting his No. 1 Ford at 169.231 mph. Joe Gibbs Racing 's Erik Jones laid down a lap of 168.676 mph in the opening lap to earn the third-fastest spot. The Dillon brothers rounded out the top five, with Austin in the fourth spot (168.287 mph) and Ty in the fifth (167.780 mph). For the fastest 10 lap consecutive average speed, it was Kyle Busch leading the way at 163.597 mph. Larson was second, followed by Austin Dillon , Ryan Blaney and Aric Almirola . Points leader and title contender Chris Buescher ranked 11th on the speed charts, his No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford coming in at 165.873 mph. Reigning series champion -- and Buescher's primary competition for the title -- Chase Elliott was 16th-fastest (165.042 mph) in his No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. The practice began later than anticipated, as track officials worked to dry the track from the rainfall that had halted Sprint Cup practice minutes before. Cars began rolling off the grid at 1:45 p.m. The XFINTY Series is back on track Saturday for Coors Light Pole qualifying (11:15 a.m. ET CNBC/Live Extra).
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- The two Most Popular Drivers were absolutely suited for NASCAR's big awards. Second-generation NASCAR mega-talents, both Chase Elliott ( XFINITY Series) and John Hunter Nemechek ( Camping World Truck Series) absolutely earned the distinction and the nod in Monday awards presentation. Elliott, who will drive the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevy next year in the Sprint Cup Series -- replacing the retiring Jeff Gordon -- was typically low-key and humble about the whole NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series awards evening. But he was eager to get going in his Cup career after a championship and second place finish (2015) in the XFINITY Series. Earning the Most Popular Driver Award for the recent season must have felt very appropriate for the son of Bill Elliott , who took the Cup Series vote a record 16 times. Dale Earnhardt Jr . has won it the past 12 years. "I think we have definitely a lot of work to do to catch Dale in that sense," a smiling Elliott said. "But I'm very appreciative of the support I've had, especially the past two years and I've noticed it. I don't think people realize how much that means to a driver when they see you wearing their T-shirt. It goes a long way for me. Seeing them do that means a lot." Elliott conceded he and his father, a NASCAR Hall of Famer, haven't discussed this honor's impact even though he is touched to receive it. "We really haven't talked about that," Elliott said. "Fortunately he (his dad) had a big following and some of those people are following me. Can't look past that. Dale has an obviously great following and I'm a Dale fan too." Nemechek, 18, was equally as excited to be recognized on the Camping World Truck Series side. A second-generation racer who won his first major race this season, Nemechek was obviously moved by the honor. "It definitely can't hurt to win the Most Popular Driver in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, " Nemechek said. "It's definitely an honor for me and my family, but more importantly, hopefully it'll help us gain some reputation on selling some sponsorship for the seasons tocome. Can't thank all of the supporters enough that voted, and all the friends and family as well." Nemechek is the second family member to be honored with the award. His father, Joe Nemecheck -- a former XFINITY Series champion and four-time Cup winner. "Yeah, he won I think in 1992 and '93, so it's awesome to be able to win an award that he's won," Nemechek said. "I beat him to something. "I wish he wouldn't have won most popular so I could've beat him to that. We're very competitive, but to get my first truck win when he didn't was very special as well. He wants one bad." With Elliott moving into the Cup series and Nemechek hoping to continue his rise in the NASCAR ranks in 2016. "It definitely is special to hear how good you're doing with the equipment that you have," Nemechek said. "We utilize our resources to the absolute max that we possibly can. We try and get our trucks as good as we can. There's a lot of late nights and hard work put in with just a few people. Finding the funding to get a few more people and not have to work as late and getting some free time to work on some other projects could even make us better, but it was definitely a good year. Getting our first win and finishing in the top five so many times, all the hard work did pay off. "We're still working on trying to find funding. Nothing is set in stone yet. It's all kind of up in the air right now, so still trying to find those possible partners to sit down, sign a deal with, hopefully for years to come."
RELATED: Race results " Final standings " Race recap HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Martin Truex Jr . and his Furniture Row Racing bunch didn't mind the perception as the clear underdogs among the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship contenders. It didn't mean they were content just to be among the elite final four. Despite his team trying alternate strategies and working to find finesse on a finicky track, Truex's bid for his first premier-series crown fell short Sunday with a 12th-place finish in the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway , leaving him fourth in the final Sprint Cup standings. "The odds were against us, for sure," said Truex, who led just three of the 267 laps. "You know, obviously really proud of everybody, like I said, and you know, we didn't come here saying we were going to be OK 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." Truex's best season in NASCAR's top division came to an unsatisfying end, fraught with handling woes as the race transferred from daytime to nightfall. "This is frustrating, man. We're terrible," Truex told crew chief Cole Pearn after the No. 78 Chevrolet failed to break back into the top 10 after the team's next-to-last pit stop. It was the theme of the night for several teams battling their car's temperament, but few had as much at stake as the Colorado-based single-car team. "For whatever reason, we just didn't have a good handle on it from the time we started race practice yesterday," Pearn said. "I don't know. Something about this car or what for this track, I don't know. Mile-and-a-halfs have definitely been our strong suit and for whatever reason, we could not move the needle all weekend. "The race was what it was. We tried to make the best of it and threw everything we could at it, but it just wasn't our weekend by any means." An omen might've come during a Lap 137 pit stop, when a fluke spark from a lug nut on the left-rear tire change triggered a flash fire, keeping the fueler from filling the tank. The team recovered, thanks to a quick yellow flag that followed, but the handling issues persisted. WATCH: Truex's car catches on fire during pit stop With the team struggling to gain ground, Pearn gambled on a two-tire stop during the next-to-last yellow flag when the rest of the title contenders took four. The call for track position vaulted the No. 78 to the lead on Lap 169, but the strategy backfired as Truex dropped through the running order on the ensuing long green-flag stretch. "We were just trying -- we had to try something," Truex said. "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." Despite any possible letdown in the finale, the team celebrated plenty of firsts. Truex and Furniture Row each savored their highest season-long finish in NASCAR's premier series, with Truex setting career-bests in top-five finishes, top-10 finishes and laps led -- all under the guidance of a rookie crew chief. "I'm extremely proud," Pearn said. "I mean, we won a race, had 22 top 10s, we finished fourth in points. If you'd told me that at the start of the year, I would've been very, very, very pleased. The good thing is, I'm really excited about our future. We're heading into a really good place with some good partners down the road and put this team in a spot that they've never been in before. Tremendous amount of things to be pleased for and really looking forward to the future." The future for the Barney Visser-owned team may keep the upward trend going. The team will likely return all key personnel and will shift from longtime manufacturer Chevrolet to Toyota in the offseason, aligning itself with Joe Gibbs Racing , this year's title-winning organization with driver Kyle Busch . Momentum from this season may also help as the team tries to do one better in 2016. RELATED: Furniture Row's Toyota move among several changes in Cup for '16 "I think this is great motivation for us for next year," Truex said. "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 (I'm) 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."
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Though the gravity of the end of his stellar NASCAR career is becoming more and more real, Jeff Gordon has maintained that the full impact won't be felt until the checkered flag falls on Sunday's finale. The same could be said for his longtime team owner, Rick Hendrick, who claims at least partial responsibility for keeping Gordon's career going to this point. Hendrick, who helped bring Gordon to NASCAR's big leagues in 1993, has coaxed a handful of extra seasons out of the 44-year-old driver in the twilight of his career, so much so that he's actually turned "one more year" into a verb. On the plane ride back from last Sunday's race at Phoenix, which left one more weekend ahead of them as driver and owner, Hendrick couldn't resist one more playful request for a 2016 return to the No. 24 Chevrolet. Gordon declined, especially at peace with his decision with one more championship to pursue. "It's hard to believe," Hendrick said Thursday, days ahead of Gordon's 797th start in NASCAR's top division. "It just seems like yesterday that he got started. … He just doesn't look like he's ready to retire. When I look at him and how young he looks, how good he is, it's like, man, but I've one-more-yeared him a couple of times, so I think I ran out of rope." The rope might end Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 400 (3 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM), but Gordon won't be completely forgoing a career in motorsports. He'll be staying with Hendrick Motorsports to groom successor Chase Elliott in his transition to the No. 24 ride and will remain a fixture in the TV booth with NASCAR broadcast partner FOX Sports. But Gordon also left open the possibility for potential driving detail on the horizon, in a part-time role. "That's the beautiful thing about racing. It doesn't mean that I won't ever drive a race car again," Gordon said. "There's a lot of different types of series and cars out there that I maybe have never driven before and may have an interest in doing that. But currently, you know, I'm very content with the decision. I don't plan on doing any Cup races in the future. I know what a disruption that is to Hendrick Motorsports and the team that I'm still going to be involved with, and I've got enough things on my plate that are going to keep me very, very busy." Plenty of those busy activities -- watching his kids' soccer games, spending more time at home and being there with his family -- won't take place inside the microcosm of the race track. Admittedly, it was a decision Gordon had lobbied for earlier, but one where the timing never quite sorted itself out. When Gordon made his final announcement Jan. 22, Gordon sat poised to improve upon 2014, a season where he racked up four wins but fell short of the championship round by a single point. As the farewell gifts stacked up this season, the wins didn't, but Gordon & Co. still relied on their remarkable consistency and scrappy spirit. When the No. 24 finally broke through, clinching a title berth with a rousing victory at Martinsville Speedway , Gordon received further confidence that his career-altering decision was the right one. "That win in Martinsville, solidifying our chance to come here as a championship contender, that just sealed it for me," Gordon said. "I was more disappointed of how earlier in the season we weren't getting the results. We weren't putting the performances together. We weren't running as good as we wanted to. I was making some mistakes. I was thinking to myself, man, I don't want to go out like this, I want to go out being competitive, battling for wins. That's what would make me happy. "And we did -- all through the Chase we've been able to step up and perform the way I was hoping that we would, and then of course the Martinsville win, and now here we are with that same opportunity. That's how you want to go out, and that's how I hope I can." Gordon's demonstrative celebration at Martinsville might have warranted a penalty in the NFL, but the jubilation was nowhere near excessive considering the impact on one of the sport's greatest drivers with a chance for a fifth series championship. Should that crowning achievement come true Sunday, Hendrick said the moment would mark a celebration -- much like this season -- worth sticking around for. "You know, that's going to be an emotion that'll happen -- I think we'll all go bananas," Hendrick said. "It'll be just like what you saw at Martinsville on steroids, because everybody will be so proud and happy for him and the fact that he can -- and some of you guys are the ones that said it to me early; it's a walk-off home run, and I don't know how it could get any sweeter than to see a guy, especially for me, that meant so much to me personally, to our organization, could end his career that way. It would just be a fairy-tale story. I think it would be probably the biggest championship won in the last I don't know how many years."