Ricky Carmichael and David Starr get together to touch off a big wreck that brings out the red flag.
Ricky Carmichael spins out of Turn 4 and collects Johanna Long.
RELATED: Keep updated on the 2016 changes for drivers, crew chiefs Stewart-Haas Racing announced Monday its crew chief lineup for the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, including high-profile changes for two of its four teams. Michael Bugarewicz will become the new crew chief for team co-owner/driver Tony Stewart as he embarks on his final full season in the No. 14 Chevrolet. Billy Scott will take over as crew chief for Danica Patrick in the No. 10 Chevy. Bugarewicz, a 33-year-old native of Lehighton, Pennsylvania, makes the transition from his previous role with SHR as race engineer on the No. 4 Chevrolet team for 2014 series champion Kevin Harvick . He previously spent time with Roush Fenway Racing in an engineering role for the No. 17 Ford and drivers Matt Kenseth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr . from 2011-13. Bugarewicz replaces Chad Johnston, who left to become the crew chief for Kyle Larson and the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet team. The 2016 season will mark Stewart's last campaign in the sport's top series. RELATED: Stewart to retire from Cup after 2016 " Johnston heads to CGR "We have great people at Stewart-Haas Racing and these changes prove that," Stewart said in a release provided by the team. "We were able to promote from within while also adding new talent. Change isn’t easy, and that’s particularly true when it comes to my relationship with Chad Johnston. He served as my crew chief during two very difficult seasons. He was always supportive and he's become like a brother to me. I think very highly of Chad and wish him nothing but the best in his new opportunity." Scott joins Stewart-Haas after an eight-year tenure as an engineer and later a crew chief with Michael Waltrip Racing , which shut its doors at season's end. The transition reunites Scott with Rodney Childers, who joined SHR in 2014 after five years with the Waltrip-owned team. The 38-year-old from Land O' Lakes, Florida, replaces Daniel Knost, who has been promoted to the senior leadership role of manager of vehicle dynamics within the Stewart-Haas organization. The driver/crew chief lineups remain intact for the two SHR teams that qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs this season. Childers will return atop the pit box for Harvick's No. 4 entry, and Tony Gibson will again be paired with Kurt Busch in 2016. "We made these changes after thoroughly evaluating our program to ensure that all four of our teams are consistently strong and competitive," said Greg Zipadelli, Stewart-Haas Racing 's vice president of competition. "In this business, you can't rest and you can never be satisfied. You have to constantly improve. We feel these personnel changes enhance our strengths and shore up areas where we needed to be better."
Joey Logano gets turned early, Ricky Carmichael pounds the wall after a cut tire and Eric McClure gets turned into the fence after a push goes awry.
Turner Motorsports announced Wednesday that veteran crew chief Jimmy Elledge has joined the team to lead the efforts of the No. 31 Chevrolet driven by Justin Allgaier. Bringing with him years of experience, Elledge has been a part of several championship-winning organizations and has worked with an impressive mix of veteran and rookie drivers including Turner Motorsports driver, Reed Sorenson, as well as Juan Montoya, Casey Mears, A.J. Allmendinger, Bobby Hamilton and Dale Jarrett. He has one Cup Series win to his credit, leading Hamilton to his final victory at Talladega in 2001. Most recently, Elledge was the crew chief for the No. 83 Red Bull Racing Toyota driven by six drivers including Sorenson, Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers. Turner Motorsports is in the midst of its inaugural full season of NASCAR competition. Owned by Texas-native Steve Turner, the racing organization is expanding in 2011 from a two-truck operation in the Camping World Truck Series to become the largest stand-alone multi-series team in NASCAR's top-tier touring series. Turner Motorsports operates out of an 110,000 square-foot state-of-the art facility in Mooresville, N.C., and will house three entries in both the Nationwide Series and the Truck Series. The team boasts a driver line-up that includes Allgaier, Kahne, Sorenson, Jason Leffler, Ricky Carmichael , James Buescher and Brad Sweet.
Editor's note: Every Friday, "Tweets You Might Have Missed" will present eight of the best NASCAR-related tweets from the week. 1. I like a lil #sneakattack #vacation #friendsgiving pic.twitter.com/41HQcmqrgT — Amy Reimann (@Amy_Reimann) November 24, 2015 2. After the race little dude says "I believed that we would win... And I believe we'll get a baby sister annnnnd a brother too!!!" — DeLana Harvick (@DeLanaHarvick) November 23, 2015 3. Happy Thanksgiving! Have a great day with family and friends. Tanner and I checking out the property #thankful pic.twitter.com/NNxIm1ub5j — Kasey Kahne (@kaseykahne) November 26, 2015 4. Note to self: You're not 21, please use better judgement in the future. — Jimmie Johnson (@JimmieJohnson) November 23, 2015 5. #Cannonball pic.twitter.com/mHn78ZgAiX — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) November 23, 2015 6. Two amazing blessings right here, both we had to fight hard for but when the time was right God gave them to us pic.twitter.com/lIZTywim0e — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) November 23, 2015 7. Hey @JimmieJohnson I hear ya #24ever pic.twitter.com/3591OlIqBm — Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (@StenhouseJr) November 23, 2015 8. An amazing experience seeing @JeffGordonWeb 's final @NASCAR race. Congratulations to you, Jeff, on an amazing career pic.twitter.com/NPuNavzRRX — Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) November 23, 2015 FAN TWEET OF THE WEEK: Mom didn't want me to know about the @NASCAR tickets ahead of time, but she wanted me to pick out my own seats at @CLTMotorSpdwy — Kelli Scoggins (@kelliscoggins) November 27, 2015
RELATED: Watch Gordon's first Chicagoland win JOLIET, Ill. -- Jeff Gordon made his 788th consecutive start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on Sunday, equaling the series record established by former driver Ricky Rudd. Barring some catastrophic occurrence, a week from now at New Hampshire Motor Speedway , the 44-year-old will break Rudd's longstanding mark. From his first start on Nov. 20, 1992 through this weekend's myAFibRisk.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway , Gordon has been one of the few constants in the series. Primary sponsorship of the series has changed -- what was Winston Cup is now Sprint Cup ; tracks have been added and subtracted; cars have evolved, rules have been re-written. Champions have come and champions have gone. Gordon, however, has persevered. Since his first start in Sprint Cup , he has always driven the No. 24 Chevrolet and he has always driven for owner Rick Hendrick. "That's one of those things I feel strange talking about because I do appreciate and respect the safety of this sport and the side that it can be taken away from you at any time," Gordon said of the milestone. "I want to break that record. I think it's a huge accomplishment because it's not that easy to do. It's easier today I think because the sport is safer. "I look at Ricky Rudd; what he went through to make it is pretty extraordinary so I can't quite compare to that, but I've been in this sport a long time, I've been in every single race and that is definitely a stat that I will look back on and be very proud of when we accomplish that at New Hampshire." NASCAR Hall of Fame member and 1988 series champion Bill Elliott won the race at Atlanta in which Gordon made his first Sprint Cup start. In an unusual twist, Chase Elliott , Bill's son, will take over the driving duties of the No. 24 entry beginning next season as Gordon steps aside to begin a career outside the car that will include a stint in the broadcast booth with FOX Sports. "How old is Jeff, 50?" fellow driver Clint Bowyer quipped earlier this week during a break in testing at Kansas Speedway . "It seems like he ought to be 60 as long as he's been in this sport. "When you think about the bruisers, the tough guys of this sport, Ricky Rudd was always that guy, you know? For Jeff to be in it as long as he has, and to stay safe as long as he has, it says a lot about the cars he is driving, the people that are working on those cars, the safety innovations in this sport; that's the reason that you can do those things and he can continue to do it at the age he’s doing it. Stay sharp and on top of his game like he has." RELATED: Rudd and other drivers who have raced injured Six-time series champion Jimmie Johnson , Gordon's teammate at Hendrick Motorsports , couldn't resist a playful dig when asked about Gordon's record-equaling accomplishment. "He's old," Johnson said with a laugh. "I can't believe it. It's amazing how fast the time goes. I'm sure Jeff would say the same." When Johnson moved into Cup fulltime in '02, Gordon was coming off his fourth championship and was already a winner of 58 races. "It's crazy to think that in 270-some races (before '02) … I can't believe what he had accomplished in that window of time," Johnson said. "He's had an amazing career and I hate to see him go. I wish he was still going to be around but I know he's fired up about for what's next in life. He's been doing it a long time. "The success he's had, and especially right off the bat, is really impressive." Rudd's streak began Jan. 1, 1981 at Riverside (Calif.) Raceway with a DiGard team owned by Bill Gardner. It didn't end until Sept. 20, 2005 at Homestead-Miami Speedway while paired with Wood Brothers Racing . Rudd, Gordon and Bobby Labonte (704) are the only drivers with more than 700 consecutive starts. Matt Kenseth , with 538 consecutive starts, is next in line among those drivers still competing fulltime in the series. "I look at Ricky Rudd, what he went through to make it is pretty extraordinary so I can't quite compare to that, but I've been in this sport a long time," Gordon said. "I've been in every single race and that is definitely a stat that I will look back on and be very proud of when we accomplish that at New Hampshire." There were times, he said, when the possibility of missing a race existed, but they were few and far between, due to health concerns rather than performance-based issues. One that quickly comes to mind, he said, was a blown right-front tire at Texas Motor Speedway in 1999 that sent Gordon's Chevrolet hard into the outside wall and left the driver with a rib injury. "No SAFER barrier, no HANS device, seats were not what they are today, seat belts were not what they are today," Gordon said. "That could have been a very serious injury. It ended up being bruised ribs and I was hurting but we had a weekend off so I was able to recover enough to go to Bristol the next race." "Of course the back issue that I had last year at Charlotte -- I wasn't prepared for that. When I got back in the car on Saturday and it hurt as bad as it did, I was scared that I might not make it into that race … the next day. "Luckily I had some great doctors that got me through it, we did the injections and I was able to make it through that race." Week after week, year after year, Gordon has continued to show up, suit up and race as hard as he did that first Sunday at Atlanta more than two decades ago. "What are mine?" Bowyer asked of his own number of consecutive starts. Told 351, Bowyer seemed stunned. "Three fifty one to 787? Whoa! I'll be 60 (by then)," he said. "No, it really is a hell of an accomplishment; what a career and he’s done a lot for our sport and everybody involved in it. It really is crazy to think next year there will not be a Jeff Gordon (on the track)." No other full-time driver competing today was also in the field that day in Atlanta. So Bowyer not only spoke for himself but for the other 41 drivers in today's race. "He's been in every single ( Sprint Cup ) race that I've ever been a part of."
Which driver drops best line from "Talladega Nights," "Days of Thunder"? Who's got the best Ricky Bobby or Cole Trickle impression? We're putting #TheChase drivers to the test today. pic.twitter.com/87PFu14lX3 — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 17, 2015 "Shake and bake!" - @ClintBowyer #TheChase pic.twitter.com/KA766mrLjk — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 17, 2015 "Rubbin', son, is racin'!" - @KyleBusch #TheChase pic.twitter.com/a3JUMvZPWU — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 17, 2015 "I'm droppin' the hammer!" - @JeffGordonWeb #TheChase pic.twitter.com/Apnqq4qINi — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 17, 2015 "I'm not sure what to do with my hands." - Paul Menard #TheChase pic.twitter.com/PZWqXtYFG1 — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 17, 2015 "If you ain't first, you're last." - @dennyhamlin #TheChase pic.twitter.com/yC3niwZsc5 — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 17, 2015 . @MartinTruex_Jr a.k.a. Harry Hogge. #TheChase pic.twitter.com/06sbQ5ohIa — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 17, 2015 "You know, I'm just a big, hairy American winning machine!" - @KurtBusch #TheChase pic.twitter.com/ETswRyzTl4 — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 17, 2015 Bet you didn't know that @keselowski was in Talladega Nights... #TheChase pic.twitter.com/zCrefeZvwK — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 17, 2015 #CarlEdwards channels his inner Ricky Bobby... and nails it. #TheChase pic.twitter.com/idOSggCcKa — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 17, 2015 . @DaleJr 's not sure what to do with his hands... #TheChase pic.twitter.com/VdSL5HfaBJ — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 17, 2015 . @JimmieJohnson or Cole Trickle? #TheChase pic.twitter.com/LrgZLoPxd6 — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 17, 2015 . @3doorsdown does a little shake... AND bake before their #ChaseFest concert. #TheChase pic.twitter.com/4qxe5bFew6 — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 17, 2015 . @joeylogano stars in Days of Thunder... #TheChase pic.twitter.com/P5yDjIe3xk — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 17, 2015 . @jamiemcmurray calls it like it is.. #TheChase pic.twitter.com/H4OvvYo3hR — NASCAR (@NASCAR) September 17, 2015
RELATED: Starting lineup " Live weather updates " See the 43-car field And then there were four. Kevin Harvick , Kyle Busch , Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr . will be vying for the Sprint Cup Series title in a few hours at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3 p.m. ET, NBC). But there's plenty happening in the garage before then -- after all, it is championship weekend. NASCAR.com will be keeping a live blog covering all the Homestead action. So, check back right here for periodic updates throughout the day. 4:45 p.m. ET: Thanks for tuning into NASCAR.com's live blog from Homestead. Turn on NBC for the start of the season finale Ford EcoBoost 400 . 4:27 p.m. ET: The command has been given. Getting ready! Here we go. #TheChase https://t.co/CRZiAsagNx — #TheChase (@NASCAR) November 22, 2015 4:19 p.m. ET: Counting down the minutes until race time. Getting closer to the championship race. #Nascar pic.twitter.com/kPO2pCDbnU — Jeff Gluck (@jeff_gluck) November 22, 2015 4:04 p.m. ET: Everyone wants to get a glismpe of Jeff Gordon . . @JeffGordonWeb has a posse. #SquadGoals pic.twitter.com/u02jsVPVo0 — #TheChase (@NASCAR) November 22, 2015 3:55 p.m. ET: One of these four drivers will be hoisting the 2015 Sprint Cup Series trophy above their heads. The #Championship4 pic.twitter.com/7TWik5wJOl — Kelly Crandall (@KellyCrandall) November 22, 2015 3:51 p.m. ET: One last time at driver intros for Jeff Gordon . Reporting for the final time! #24ever https://t.co/00i4FxHxsB — #TheChase (@NASCAR) November 22, 2015 3:30 p.m. ET: Driver introductions are now underway on NBC. 3:15 p.m. ET: Getting closer! Driver Intros scheduled for 3:30 now :) #NASCAR — Holly Cain (@_HollyCain) November 22, 2015 3:02 p.m. ET: Just awesome. A special moment between racing legends, @JeffGordonWeb & @MarioAndretti . #24Ever pic.twitter.com/WvXfrq0AWo — NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) November 22, 2015 2:43 p.m. ET: Stay with us, folks -- the radar for the rest of the day looks promising! Per @NASCAR , start of race on hold due to rain. — tom jensen (@tomjensen100) November 22, 2015 2:25 p.m. ET: The real MVPs of NASCAR are gearing up. Air Titans are being staged at the entrance of Turn 3. #NASCAR — Chris Knight (@Knighter01) November 22, 2015 2:15 p.m. ET: Driver introductions -- which were set to begin at 2:20 p.m. ET -- are on hold due to rain. 2:10 p.m. ET : Rain, rain stay away. Shower was over after 5 minutes. Steady wind keeping clouds moving quickly over the track. #nascar — Nate Ryan (@nateryan) November 22, 2015 2:03 p.m. ET: Coincidence or premonition? Look close and you'll see it. A rainbow near @HomesteadMiami :) #24ever // @NASCARONFOX pic.twitter.com/v4gM93OQAj — Alan Cavanna (@CopaCavanna) November 22, 2015 2 p.m. ET: That's a sharp-looking group. And they've all assembled -- the #Championship4 pic.twitter.com/8MKrOh0WjJ — Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverSBN) November 22, 2015 1:28 p.m. ET: Man, Jeff Gordon has some cool friends. So proud to call you a friend @JeffGordonWeb . You are a legend and an inspiration. Go real fast today buddy. #24ever — Brad Paisley (@BradPaisley) November 22, 2015 1:05 p.m. ET: Rollin' on out. Takin' her to the grid. #Championship4 pic.twitter.com/9FIMeLdSl7 — #TheChase (@NASCAR) November 22, 2015 12:46 p.m. ET: Danica Patrick pays a classy tribute to Jeff Gordon . #24ever pic.twitter.com/L2Bi8bsA0n — Danica Patrick (@DanicaPatrick) November 22, 2015 12:33 p.m. ET: One last driver's meeting for the 2015 season, set to begin at 1 p.m. ET. Early scene at @HomesteadMiami drivers' meeting with "Round and Round" by Ratt as the soundtrack. #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/Loa1Px3Vq9 — Zack Albert (@zack_albert) November 22, 2015 12:27 p.m. ET: Rodney Childers makes sure the No. 4 car is in tip-top shape for today. #NASCAR ... @RodneyChilders4 oversees final work on Kevin Harvick 's car. @NASCARonNBC pic.twitter.com/hQEPjRl9tz — Dustin Long (@dustinlong) November 22, 2015 11:51 a.m. ET: Guess who's back at the track? from the @Minions ! #Minions pic.twitter.com/rYN7dkhvt4 — Homestead-Miami (@HomesteadMiami) November 22, 2015 11:48 a.m. ET: #24ever. "How could I not be enjoying this? I'm having the time of my life. It's unbelievable." - @JeffGordonWeb on @FS1 's #NASCAR #RaceDay . — Jay W. Pennell (@jaywpennell) November 22, 2015 11:45 a.m. ET: Full house behind Jeff Gordon for his FS1 Race Day cameo this morning. . @JeffGordonWeb has arrived @FS1 and these fans are very happy about that! #24ever pic.twitter.com/l1dJd7pPxc — Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) November 22, 2015 10:56 a.m. ET: Um, Ricky , Texas was two weeks ago. The footwear of choice in Miami is flip-flops. Breaking out some new @tonylama today. pic.twitter.com/j3UXRjNpTj — Ricky Stenhouse Jr . (@StenhouseJr) November 22, 2015 10:12 a.m. ET: We're liking the looks of these sunny skies! Blue sky, red carpet. @HomesteadMiami pic.twitter.com/SAZTaM0Lig — Alan Cavanna (@CopaCavanna) November 22, 2015 10:09 a.m. ET: The No. 48 team got a special visit from country superstar Tim McGraw this morning. . @thetimmcgraw stopping by the 48 hauler. pic.twitter.com/BmlCJDMKtX — Team Lowe's Racing (@LowesRacing) November 22, 2015 9:49 a.m. ET: Drivers like Dale Jr., media and even former President Clinton took to Twitter to wish Jeff Gordon well-wishes and share their favorite No. 24 memories. Check out all the messages here . It's been great racing with you, and learning from you. Great competitor and exceptional ambassador for @NASCAR . pic.twitter.com/KMmdAiVIWn — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) November 22, 2015 9:22 a.m. ET: A little elbow grease to accompany morning coffee for the four championship contenders' teams. Rise and grind. #TheChase https://t.co/lFAWeQ8DYl — #TheChase (@NASCAR) November 22, 2015
MORE: Sunday's full lineup RELATED: Gordon's top 24 NASCAR moments " Full Gordon coverage HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Busy week, surrounded by a lot of friends and family, a legendary figure making the final start of his career with a shot at going out as a five-time champion. Racer. Philanthropist. Father. What's there to say about Jeff Gordon that hasn't been said? What's there to write that hasn't been written? Do a Google search for " Jeff Gordon " and the search engine generates approximately 79 million results. Tom Brady? 83.1 million. Kobe Bryant? 34.6 million. Derek Jeter? 14 million. Gordon, 44, is one of those rare athletes who have transcended their individual sport. A champion on the track? Without question. Off the track? Certainly. Television and tabloids flock to him. He purchased a second residence in New York City in part to escape the spotlight and to navigate life in between races unimpeded by the fame that followed him elsewhere. Maybe he would not carry the same clout or create the same buzz had he chosen another profession. Then again, perhaps his impact would have been even greater elsewhere. A precocious, driven youngster whose family packed up moved east from California in order to continue his development as a racer. A NASCAR premier series champion at 24. And 26. And 27. And 30. Now, at 44, is there one more title in the tank? What's there to say that hasn't been said, write that hasn't been written? WATCH: Gordon's first Homestead win The Alpha and Omega NASCAR didn't begin with Gordon, and it certainly won't end when the Hendrick Motorsports driver climbs from his No. 24 Chevrolet for the final time on Sunday evening. "Everybody's career comes to an end," Richard Petty said. "He's going out strong. I admire him for that part of it. "I wouldn't mind seeing him win the championship because he's meant so much to NASCAR over the years. They're going to miss him a whole lot from that standpoint." There is no one in the sport more qualified to speak on such matters than the man known simply as "The King." Now 78, Petty set the standard for champions on the track as well as how to conduct oneself outside the car. Icon, inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame member, winner of 200 races and seven championships, Petty is NASCAR. The Petty family is NASCAR. Petty's father, Lee, won three titles, 54 races and was in the very first sanctioned race. He, too, is a member of the Hall of Fame. The careers of Richard Petty and Gordon are inextricably linked by a single date – Nov. 15, 1992. Petty made his 1,184th and final start in NASCAR's premier series. Gordon made his very first in the same event. Petty met privately with Gordon this weekend at Homestead to present him with one of his signature Charlie 1 Horse cowboy hats. It was a gesture of appreciation and acknowledgement of everything Gordon has accomplished. But Petty understands better than most that the sport will move forward, just as it did when he stepped out of the car that sunny day in Atlanta. "No matter who you are, you're not strong enough to carry the whole load," Petty said. "He's been a strong leader all these years, but over a period of time, the next crowd comes along and kind of fades them all out. Over a period of time, you go away whether you want to or not." RELATED: Best No. 24 paint schemes Auspicious beginning Gordon won the series' Rookie of the Year title in 1993, competing for the honor against Bobby Labonte , Kenny Wallace and P.J. Jones. Two years later, he won his first championship. It was the era of Dale Earnhardt, the six-time champion chasing Petty's mark of seven titles while blazing new trails. He was "The Intimidator." He was NASCAR. Petty, Earnhardt and then there was Gordon. No one else was as dominant -- between 1995 and '99, Gordon won 47 races. He won Daytona. He won Indy. He won the Winston Million. Had he not come along? "Someone else would have taken that spot," Mike Helton, NASCAR Vice Chairman, said. "I don't know that anybody could have filled it, though. "There's a difference. It's like if the Atlantic Ocean went dry, somebody could figure out how to get water in it, but could they fill that whole ocean? "I think we were very fortunate for Jeff to appear when he did and do what he did along the way to keep our momentum going. It certainly added to the momentum that we had going in that era. We needed a Jeff Gordon and he arose. He came into the sport ... he could have chosen open-wheel racing ... and he would have been massively successful." Why was it Gordon? Why not someone else who stepped up and helped carry the sport forward, who resonated with fans and sponsors? Helton doesn't know. "I know growing up there was a reason I became a big fan of John Wayne. And there were a lot of cowboys on television," he said. "I just think that speaks to Jeff's inclusiveness, and his capabilities extended beyond just being a very successful athlete as a race car driver." There have been issues from time to time, but nothing major, according to Helton, who added, "Of course we've had conversations in which he'd had to write checks afterward." Earnhardt's death in 2001, in the season-opening Daytona 500 , turned the sport upside down. Gordon was one of the few who could help stabilize it in an uncertain time. "I think the whole industry looked at Jeff to take Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s place when we lost Dale," said Helton. "The garage area needed a voice like we've had historically, whether it was Richard Petty or Darrell Waltrip, Dale Sr. ... He got pressure from the industry inside the garage to be that voice. "When that came, along with the championships that preceded that, he understood the need for a league or sanctioning body in order for the athlete to be successful. But he also had a good soapbox to stand on saying 'Look, we need our voice to be heard too.' And I think the respect worked both ways." RELATED: NASCAR Nation honors Gordon with #24ever 'Iron Man' of NASCAR Consecutive starts: 796. It's one more impressive record in Jeff Gordon 's body of work. He's never missed a start, and passed Ricky Rudd for the consecutive starts record earlier this year. Now, only one remains, one final attempt, one final opportunity. Because of the format for NASCAR's championship-determining Chase, Gordon doesn't have to win Sunday's Ford EcoBoost 400 . He has to finish ahead of only three challengers -- Kevin Harvick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Kyle Busch ( Joe Gibbs Racing ) and Martin Truex Jr . ( Furniture Row Racing ) to capture the title. He'll go out a winner regardless of where he finishes. Whether or not he goes out a champion has yet to be determined. Capturing the inaugural Brickyard 400 in '94 has always stood out as his most memorable moment. Until a recent Martinsville victory put him in the Championship 4 here at Homestead-Miami Speedway . The '98 season when he won 13 races, the fourth title in '01 with crew chief Robby Loomis after the departure of mentor Ray Evernham and the '95 crown that was won when he "was going against Earnhardt; that was huge," Gordon said earlier this week. The finality of the moment, though, carries much weight. "My final year, my final race, (wife) Ingrid and the kids," Gordon said. "Kids motivate you in a whole new way, and no matter what we're going to go out and be happy and celebrate. "But to do it as a champion, oh, my gosh, I just can't imagine anything that would be more emotional and more exciting and more gratifying than to look at my wife in the eyes and see that reaction from her when that race is over if we win it." MORE: Drivers offer favorite Gordon memories