Jeff Gordon and Brad Keselowski, along with many other members of the NASCAR community, help The F-Post spread a little holiday cheer.
Driver's back not healed 100 percent, but Gordon feels just fine in the car Had it been spoken in more than a mostly joking manner, Jeff Gordon 's off-the-cuff statement back in January that he'd ride off into stock-car racing retirement if he won his fifth title in NASCAR's premier series would likely have been the bombshell of the year. "I wish I was standing here with that issue right now," Gordon said after accepting sixth-place honors at last week's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards show in Las Vegas. After coming oh-so-close to cashing in on that big if, a rejuvenated Gordon said that his heart was never in it to walk away and close the books on his Hall of Fame-worthy career. After enjoying a season with four wins and a championship bid that thrived until the next-to-last race, the 43-year-old veteran is eager to keep the momentum -- and a near-record streak -- rolling next year in what will be his 23rd season at NASCAR's top level. "I never had any intentions of doing that," Gordon said at mention of the word retirement. "I love this sport, I love being competitive. Yeah, I had that health scare with my back in May but was able to pull it all back together and go on and have a great year and not have to miss that race. I was asked that question and I answered it as honestly as I could, but also I'm having some fun with it, and I'd have liked to have had that issue, like I said. "Don't worry, I'll be back next year. Maybe I'll say the same joke in January and we'll see where it goes." The Hendrick Motorsports driver has a streak of consecutive starts that currently stands at 761. He is expected to tie the all-time record of 788 set by Ricky Rudd next season in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs opener Sept. 20 at Chicagoland Speedway ; he'd break the mark the following weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway . But the back ailment Gordon referenced threw that ironman streak into peril last spring, when spasms during Coors Light Pole Qualifying caused him to sit out practice on the eve of the Coca-Cola 600 , the series' longest race. Gordon eventually completed all 600 miles. His back, though, still isn't quite without lingering pain. "No -- 100 percent? That was a long time ago," Gordon said. "But it doesn't seem to affect me inside the car and that's the most important thing. It hurts afterward, it hurts during the week, but once I'm inside the car, I'm able to focus on what I need to do." While Gordon drew a fair amount of teasing because of his age during some of Champion's Week's more candid moments, his stature among his peers was unquestioned. During the NASCAR After the Lap tell-all, all 16 Chase qualifiers were asked if they were fans of Gordon as they took their first steps into the sport; nearly every hand went up. "It was humbling, I'll be honest," Gordon said. "Maybe even if they were (fans), they might not want to admit it. The fact they were admitting it means a lot to me." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
The No. 24 team as you've never seen them
Four-time champion explains late stop in season finale LAS VEGAS-- Jeff Gordon appeared to have a race-winning car in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway , but a decision to pit for four tires late in the race dropped him far back in the running order and relegated the driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to a 10th-place finish. In tying up that loose end from Homestead, Gordon explained that his decision was dictated by a choice made earlier in the race. "I think the question really needs to be about, before that, why we didn't pit," Gordon told the NASCAR Wire Service after the Myers Brothers Luncheon. "You take all the information you have from past history of long green-flag runs to the end of the race, track position, who's coming, who's not… "We dominated that race, had a car that I think could have and should have won that race. But we all came in and got four tires, they throw the green, and caution comes out in three or four laps. We stay out, and I think we went one more round of green-flag run, four or five laps, and caution comes out again. "At that point, that's where the race changed for us and really took us out of contention, because we decided to stay out, and all those other guys decided to come in, and there were just too many cautions at the end." Gordon scoffed at the suggestion that he might not have wanted to restart up front on old tires at the end of the race, with the potential to effect the outcome of the championship battle. "Heck, no, that had nothing to do with it," Gordon said. "It was all about winning the race, and knowing that those guys behind us had fresh tires, because they elected to pit—and that place eats tires up… "What's really interesting is, when you look at (Sprint Cup champion) Kevin Harvick 's position, he came down pit road and took four (tires) where some other guys took two, and he saw his championship chances completely go out the window. If you listened to his radio communication, it was 'We're done, we’re done.' "But enough cautions fell after that to bring them back into it, and he did a great job, obviously, moving up through there. And that exact same thing that helped win him the championship is what cost us the win for that race." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup sixth-place finisher, Jeff Gordon , gives his speech at the Sprint Cup Series Awards in Las Vegas.
Harvick qualifies the best of the Championship 4 drivers MORE: Full EcoBoost 400 lineup " Hendrick Motorsports 200 poles by driver, track HOMESTEAD, Fla.— Jeff Gordon edged Kurt Busch for the top starting spot in Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET on ESPN), as three of the four contenders in the Championship Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup qualified in the top nine during Friday's time trials. In the third and final round of the knockout qualifying session, Gordon covered the 1.5-mile distance in 29.876 seconds (180.747 mph), narrowly beating Busch (29.895 seconds/180.632 mph) for the top spot on the grid. Championship favorite Kevin Harvick (179.946 mph) will start fifth, with fellow contenders Denny Hamlin (179.348 mph) and Joey Logano (179.259 mph) eighth and ninth, respectively. Ryan Newman (178.241 mph), the fourth driver eligible for the championship, failed to advance to the final round and will start 21st. Matt Kenseth (180.294 mph) and Brad Keselowski (179.994 mph), both eliminated from the Chase last Sunday at Phoenix, qualified third and fourth, respectively, for the race. In the 25-minute first qualifying round, Keselowski set a track record at 181.238 mph (29.795 mph), breaking the mark of 181.111 mph established by Jamie McMurray in 2003. No driver has won a Sprint Cup race at Homestead from the pole since Busch accomplished the feat in 2002. Gordon , eliminated from the Chase by one point last Sunday, moved toward the top of the track for his Coors Light Pole Award-winning run. "The bottom just wasn't the perfect place for us to run," Gordon explained. "I could feel the tires going away, and then we needed to move up. So when we saw some of those guys running fast laps a little bit higher up, I was looking forward to making that last lap. "The guys made some great adjustments. We unfortunately had a tire going down on the left front, so I don't know if that helped us or hurt us, but it was pretty nice to get that pole. That's awesome." Gordon's Coors Light Pole Award—his first at Homestead, his third of the season and the 77th of his career—also was the 200th for Hendrick Motorsports . "To be the 200th pole for Hendrick Motorsports is really cool," Gordon said. "I think the way we're looking at this weekend is we want to close out the season the absolute best we can. It's been a tremendous season. The No. 24 team has been incredible this year. "We're disappointed that we aren't in this thing for the championship, but that's not going to stop us from trying to go out to win the pole and win the race." For Harvick, the most gratifying thing about Friday's qualifying session was beating the three other championship contenders—not to mention earning a top-five starting position. "This is going to be a race that you are going to go through some changing conditions," Harvick said. "Today was really about trying to get a solid starting spot. And we were able to do that. "Just really proud of my guys. We had a really good day today. Just got to keep doing what we have to do and see where it all falls on Sunday." 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
Discusses Keselowski incident, calls missing Championship Round 'heartbreaking' RELATED: Follow your picks in the Chase Battle Grid Presented by Toyota Dressed to impress in a tailored suit and clean shaven with a cropped hair cut, Jeff Gordon represented NASCAR on CNBC and at the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday morning. Gordon appeared on the cable news business network, which is available to nearly 100 million homes, as a representative for Axalta Coating, which sponsors him. Axalta CEO Charles Shaver appeared with Gordon on the program. Gordon and Shaver appeared on the business show "Squawk on the Street" to promote the Initial Public Offering (IPO) of Axalta on the New York Stock Exchange. Gordon , who drives the No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, was asked about his altercation with Brad Keselowski after the race at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this month. "This new format that NASCAR's come up with has really created even intensity and more drama obviously and there's a lot on the line and so there's a lot of passion we have about winning and winning championship," Gordon said. "That's what comes out when things don't go your way and you feel like you were wronged. It brings that passion out." Keselowski and Gordon collided in the late stages of the race and as it turned out, neither driver advanced to the championship race this Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. on ESPN). "It was heartbreaking that we didn't make it to Homestead for the final four," Gordon said. "We've had one of the best teams all year long and I felt like we've done everything we needed to be there ... but we're going to finish out this season in a big positive way and go into next season and have another great year." Here's Gordon's view of the New York Stock Exchange as he got ready to ring the bell: Great to experience "ringing the bell" from this perspective @AxaltaRacing pic.twitter.com/Swor5rIoVO — Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) November 12, 2014 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
Four-time champion just 13 wins away from second on all-time list RELATED: Follow your picks in the Perfect Chase Grid Challenge for chance at $100,000 prize DOVER, Del. -- With all the jockeying for Chase positions in the middle of the field, it was difficult at times to focus on what was happening at the front of the field in Sunday's AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. At the end of the day, Jeff Gordon took the checkered flag for the 92nd time in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career and took another stride toward a milestone everyone -- including Gordon -- once thought was untouchable. Make no mistake. Gordon already is in rarified air when it comes to his accomplishments in stock car racing. With 92 victories, he's third on the all-time list. He's a four-time series champion with an abiding hunger for a fifth title. He's a shoo-in for the NASCAR Hall of Fame. And he's now within sight, at least, of David Pearson's 105 career Cup wins, second all-time. A few scant years ago, catching Pearson was the furthest thing from Gordon's mind. He was having some serious issues with his back. Gordon and wife Ingrid added to their family with the births of daughter Ella and son Leo. Gordon wasn't particularly fond of NASCAR's Gen-5 platform, introduced into the Sprint Cup Series in 2007 as the Car of Tomorrow. And, when asked, he would dismiss Pearson's milestone as an impossibility. Now, it seems that only Richard Petty's unassailable series-record 200 victories is out of reach. Through treatment and exercise, Gordon's back is better. NASCAR's new Gen-6 race car better suits his driving style, especially since the implementation of the no-ride-height rules this year. Gordon has bonded with crew chief Alan Gustafson, and together they have found top-of-the-line speed in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Despite his superstar status within NASCAR racing and the crossover appeal that makes him a comfortable fill-in co-host with Kelly Ripa, for example, Gordon isn't above team-building within his organization. Two days before the AAA 400 , after a hair-raising qualifying lap at the Monster Mile, Gordon spent the evening at a local Dover fish house with Gustafson and his crew. Wearing a T-shirt and baseball cap and sitting inconspicuously at a family-style table, Gordon was just one of the guys. On the track on Sunday, he was an opportunist. Kevin Harvick was the class of the field, but mechanical issues bit Harvick's No. 4 Chevrolet as they often have since his last victory at Darlington in April. Gordon seized the moment, passed Brad Keselowski for the lead on Lap 305 of 400 and controlled the balance of the race. As he invariably does, Gordon deflected talk of reaching the century mark in victories. "I'm going to tell you the same thing I say every time I'm sitting here after a win: It's awesome to have 92, and I look forward to challenging for 93," Gordon said in the Dover media center. "I can't even think about 100 until we get to 99. "I mean, I never dreamed in a million years that I would be here talking to you after 92 wins, and especially at this point in my career, this many years in the sport, to be having the year that we're having, it's just something I never thought could happen. It feels amazing, and right now if I felt like we could stay this competitive for the next several years, I would say, yeah, we could get there." But Gordon , of course, has a more immediate goal. "We're just laser-focused on this championship and going to the next race," he said. "I don't think we're going to get to 100 this year, but I hope we get past 93. That would be pretty awesome to get a couple more, and it almost takes a win to get to Homestead. That's our goal, getting to Homestead, whatever it takes." 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
Four-time premier series champion last won at 1.5-mile track in May Jeff Gordon has the most career wins at Kansas Speedway with three. In 17 starts at the 1.5-mile track, Gordon also has 10 top-five finishes and 12 top-10s. The four-time premier series champion won the latest race at the track in May, leading the final eight laps to take the 5-hour Energy 400 for his first win of the 2014 Sprint Cup Series season.
One year after wild ending, veteran in completely different position MORE: Full coverage of "One Night in Richmond" series RELATED: #MyChaseNation " Current Chase Grid Jeff Gordon says he doesn't believe in karma by its strictest definition. But as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Richmond International Raceway this week for the regular-season finale, he has some definite ideas about the success he's had since NASCAR Chairman Brian France granted him a 13th entry position into last year's Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field following a controversial Richmond finish that NASCAR ruled unfairly bumped Gordon from the initial 12-driver postseason field. It's a vastly different scenario this weekend for Gordon . Instead of showing up at Richmond still needing to race his way into the Chase field, he's already clinched a Chase berth this year thanks to a three-win performance. The biggest stress Gordon has on the weekend is trying to become the series' first four-time winner and earn more bonus points to start his championship bid. "I think life has a way of balancing itself out, I do believe in that,'' said Gordon , who leads the Sprint Cup driver standings entering Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400. "I believe you get back in life what you put into it, that when you treat people right, they treat you right. When you do good things, good things are going to happen. When you do bad things, then bad things are going to happen. "I think you could take the last couple years and look at those instances, whether it be the one with me and (Clint) Bowyer (at Phoenix), that was a bad judgment call on my part and in many ways I paid the price for that. "And then you could look at how we've handled that situation ever since and I think yeah, you could say that I believe handling those situations the right way and learning from them you get the rewards of that as well." However, Gordon continued, "Most of what's happening for us this year is we're committed, we're working hard and working in the right direction and we've got a good team." "Good" might be an understatement. Gordon took the championship lead April 7 following the Texas Motor Speedway race and has held the point for 17 of the 19 weeks since, only twice dropping to a second-place ranking. He started out the year scoring seven top-10s in the first 10 races. He won the 11th race at Kansas, which started a roll of six more top-10s in the following seven races in the No. 24 AARP Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet. This summer, the 43-year old four-time NASCAR champ collected a historic fifth win in the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis, won the pole at the Watkins Glen road course and then the next week won at Michigan from the pole position. While Gordon made the most of the 10-race Chase in 2013, scoring his only win of the season at Martinsville among five top-10s, he thinks while that effort was probably buoyed by high emotion of his surreal Chase circumstances, this year's results are the product of something else. Preparation and horsepower trump good karma as far as Gordon is concerned. "It's simply about this year,'' Gordon said. "Ever since the Gen-6 car came along, I feel like we've been more competitive. And the new ride height rules and spoiler rules, I feel like (crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports went to work to figure that out as soon as possible to see how we're going to set the cars up and benefit from those changes. "I think they did their homework really well and it's paying off for us this year." So much so that Gordon concedes it feels a bit like his 2001 championship season -- the most recent of his four titles. "Back in the late 1990s we were winning a lot of races,'' Gordon explained. "Back in '98 it was like it was set on autopilot. We were winning races we should have won, winning races we shouldn't have won. That year there is no comparing. "That's the only year I've ever had when I'd pull into Victory Lane on that ninth or 10th win and I was like, 'I almost feel bad we won another one, this is crazy.' " "But I got over it real quick,'' he added, laughing. "I'd say in 2001, the competition was tougher, the team was really clicking, cars were good and that reminds me more what we have now. "And in some ways we're even better." Gordon is especially enthused about the depth of the team's potential. While some of his competitors have put together trophy-winning days, they have also had a lot more weekends to forget. Gordon's No. 24 team has proven it can win races and capitalize on securing good points days in between trips to Victory Lane. With a new Chase format that includes three elimination rounds in the 10-race championship stretch, Gordon is confident his team's all-around strength could be the difference. "I mainly just look at how good our team is performing not only in winning races but we're also very consistent,'' Gordon said. "And you know to be successful in this new format, either one of those can get you through to the next round. I think we have the ability to win which will get us through and I think we have the ability to be strong and consistent and get through with points as well. "Most of all I think of the strength of our team and how much we believe in one another and how we're working together, just how we're clicking. It's been a great season, just with the new format, and in the Chase it only matters what we do in those final 10 races.'' Then he added with a laugh, "Talk to me after that." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule