Crown Royal hosted a weeklong celebration of heroes, during which individuals across the country were honored as inaugural nominees for the brand's annual "Your Hero's Name Here" program. The program renames the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- scheduled to take place July 24, 2016 -- after a deserving hero. Beginning Nov. 4, celebrities, influencers and partners of Crown Royal selected deserving individuals to be recognized as inaugural nominees for the program, concluding with a special celebration of heroes in Chicago on Veteran's Day. Each individual was given access to a special experience -- receiving tickets to award shows, professional football games and NASCAR races. For the 10th year in a row, Crown Royal will award an adult hero naming rights to a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race through the "Your Hero's Name Here" program. The program is designed to honor individuals who go above and beyond, and give back to their communities -- from firefighters and military personnel, to police officers and first responders, by offering them an once-in-a-lifetime experience during the Brickyard 400 weekend. Consumers 21 and older can visit CrownRoyalHeroes.com to nominate their own heroes for a chance to have the Brickyard 400 renamed in their honor. Nominations will be accepted through Feb. 28 and five finalists will be chosen with a chance to win naming rights to the 2016 Brickyard 400. From there, consumers will be able to vote for the hero they think is most deserving of the honor, and one individual will see their name in lights at Indianapolis Motor Speedway . Previous winners are: • Jeff Kyle, 2015. Kyle was deployed multiple times to Iraq and Africa while serving in the military for eight years. During his time with the 3rd Marine Division, Kyle received the Navy Achievement Medal for leading the first Marine detachment to transport a nuclear submarine through hostile waters. After leaving the military, Sergeant Kyle has dedicated his life to helping his fellow servicemen and women through his tireless efforts to bring awareness to veterans' needs. • John Wayne Walding, 2014. Walding, a Green Beret, served a tour in Iraq and lost part of his leg after being shot by a sniper in Afghanistan. Walding mended his own wound and continued to return before the Green Berets were rescued. Walding later became the first amputee to graduate from the Special Forces Sniper School. • Samuel Deeds, 2013. While deployed in Iraq, Deeds came across an improvised explosive device (IED) while setting up a vehicle checkpoint. Upon seeing fellow Marines approaching, he exposed himself to the device, risking his own life to save others. He was severely injured and underwent more than 30 surgeries and procedures following the blast. Three years later, while still recovering, Deeds’ heroic instincts took charge once again when he saved the lives of three individuals caught in a rip tide off the coast of North Carolina. • Curtiss Shaver, 2012. Shaver is a firefighter from Alabama who lost part of his left leg in a farming accident when he was 18 years old. The incident led to Shaver's career choice as a fireman and a certified EMT.
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
RELATED: Complete Miami race results " Series standings HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- With the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title now in Erik Jones ' rear-view mirror, the immediate question becomes "What's next for the 19-year-old prodigy?" With a relatively nondescript, problem-free sixth-place finish in Friday night's Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway , Jones secured the series driver's championship, as well as the owner's title for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Discovered by Busch when he beat his future car owner as a 16-year-old in the Snowball Derby for Super Late Models, Jones delivered the championship after running two part-time seasons for KBM. "I can't think of a better way to repay these guys," Jones said in Victory Lane, after securing the title by 15 points over runner-up Tyler Reddick . "I can't think of a better way to thank Kyle for all these years (than by) getting the driver’s championship for him. He's wanted one since the company started, and to bring it home for myself and for KBM, you couldn't really ask for a better ending than that." The youngest champion in series history at 19 years, 5 months, 21 days, Jones has been earmarked for a meteoric ascent to the top level of NASCAR racing. "It means so much more to have the opportunity to help these younger drivers and to help these kids that are coming up through the ranks to be successful," Busch said. "And to do that with Kyle Busch Motorsports and Toyota, there's nothing greater than to have that feeling and to build that company from the ground up, from nothing, and take it to where it is today." But first things first. Team owner Joe Gibbs reiterated on Friday the plan to run Jones in a full season of NASCAR XFINITY Series racing next year, with a few selected Sprint Cup events added to the mix. Jones has already gotten his baptism in Sprint Cup . Earlier this season, he subbed for Kyle Busch at Kansas, the last of 11 races Busch missed after breaking his right leg and left foot in the season-opening XFINITY Series event at Daytona. Jones filled a relief role for Denny Hamlin at Bristol in April, after Hamlin's neck locked up during a rain delay. And when Matt Kenseth earned a two-race suspension for wrecking Joey Logano on Nov. 1 at Martinsville, Jones was tabbed to replace him. His first laps in a Sprint Cup car were hardly tentative. Behind the wheel of Busch's No. 18 Toyota, he ran consistently in the top 10 before crashing on lap 196 of 267 at Kansas. Subbing for Kenseth at Texas and Phoenix, Jones qualified sixth and seventh, respectively, and finished 12th and 19th against the top stock car drivers in the world. Despite the speed he has shown in the Sprint Cup series, Jones is content to let his career take its course. "Absolutely, I think the XFINITY Series is completely necessary," Jones said. "I have no problem running a year there … as long as need be there. I don't know what the exact career path is for me down the road. "At some point, yeah, I want to race in the Cup series every weekend. I feel like there's a plan in place for that opportunity to arise. And I'll just keep taking what's given to me every week and go out and try to win races."
RELATED: Practice results Daniel Hemric (No. 14 NTS Motorsports Chevrolet) topped the lone NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice session at Homestead-Miami Speedway . The rookie paced the 145-minute session with a fast lap of 168.908 mph. Tyler Reddick (No. 19 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford) came in second with a speed of 168.824 mph. Reddick enters the final race of the season 19 points back of Erik Jones (No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota) for the championship lead. Jones placed fifth in the session (167.447 mph). Spencer Gallagher (No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet) was third (168.418 mph) and Crafton (167.452 mph) came in fourth. Jones had the fastest 10-lap average speed among seven drivers at 161.716 mph from Laps 11-20; Crafton was second at 160.629 mph, followed by Christopher Bell (159.862 mph), Hemric (159.644 mph) and Daniel Suarez (158.886 mph). Jones will lock up the title with a finish of 15th or better in Friday night's Ford EcoBoost 200 (8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM); 16th with at least one lap led; or 17th with the most laps led. Jones or Reddick would become the youngest driver to win the Camping World Truck Series championship, while also dethroning two-time defending champion Matt Crafton (No. 88 ThorSport Racing Toyota) in the process. Austin Theriault (No. 29 Brad Keselowski Racing Ford), who is set to make his first start since a major crash last month at Las Vegas Motor Speedway , finished the session 11th. Earlier in the week, Theriault was medically cleared to return to racing after suffering a 10 percent compression fracture of the lower back on Oct. 3 during the Rhino Linings 350 . Keystone Light Pole Qualifying is set for 4:10 p.m. ET (FS1).
RELATED: Race results " Series standings HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Neither the reigning two-time champion nor the plucky driver in his first full season took a spot on the big stage Friday night. But for Matt Crafton and Tyler Reddick , there was plenty of solace to go around. Crafton and Reddick made the most of banner seasons in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series despite coming up short to newly crowned champion Erik Jones in Friday's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway . Crafton netted the biggest consolation prize of all, a resounding victory in the Ford EcoBoost 200 . Reddick, though stinging from a runner-up finish in the standings, found silver linings in the impact of a successful two-win season. For Crafton and his ThorSport Racing No. 88 Toyota team, the championship torch was passed to a rookie driver 20 years his junior. But the Truck Series veteran savored his most prolific season in the win column with six victories, capped by Friday night's romp at the 1.5-mile Homestead track, where he led 93 of 134 laps from the Keystone Light Pole position. Crafton wound up third in the final series standings, 22 points behind Jones, but relished a year flush with dominance and laps led, doubling the amount of victories in both championship seasons combined. "This year, I said these guys are unbelievable what they build these trucks up there in Sandusky, Ohio and what (team owners) Duke and Rhonda (Thorson) give us to be able to go out and win six races," said Crafton, who led the standings from late March through late July. "I say it each and every race, I don't worry about the points, and I haven't worried about the points. The last five races, six races, I knew I was going to have to be that much more aggressive, and I was." Reddick kicked off his first full season in the Brad Keselowski Racing No. 19 Ford with a victory in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway . He added a win three months later at Dover, but lamented a handful of subpar finishes (19th at Mosport, 15th at New Hampshire) in the season's second half that left him at a deficit in the series' pecking order. Reddick still ended up second in the standings, 15 points off the top and exceedingly close to the lofty goals he set for himself back in the winter. "Going into this year, our standards were set very high," Reddick said. "We wanted to win the championship and obviously a lot of people -- I feel like a lot of people didn't think we were capable of that. We didn't end up being capable of it. As you see, we were runner-up. We were always very strong throughout the season. We were always right there. Unfortunately we were just a little too short there coming into Homestead to really mix it up in the last race."
RELATED: Race results " Series standings HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- As strong as he was in winning Friday night's Ford EcoBoost 200 , Matt Crafton was already looking ahead to 2016. Crafton, whose hopes for a third consecutive NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship were dashed by a crash at Phoenix last week, won his sixth race of the season, holding off John Hunter Nemechek and Tyler Reddick in the season finale. Although Crafton's No. 88 Toyota Tundra finished 2.9 seconds ahead of Nemechek and more than six seconds ahead of Reddick, the 39-year-old veteran still wound up third in the point standings, 15 behind 19-year-old Erik Jones . "I was having so much fun there at the end of this race," said Crafton after his first career victory at HMS. "Six wins with as many laps as we’ve led -- it's been awesome this season. We just made too many mistakes. I made too many mistakes. … I promise one thing: It's going to make us stronger in 2016." Crafton said he was happy to be able to "take the gloves off" and go all out for a win at HMS. "That was lot of fun," he said. "It's amazing what Junior (crew chief Joiner) can do with these trucks. On that last run, we hit a home run there." Ultimately, Kyle Busch 's eye for youthful talent paid off as Jones did what he needed to in becoming the youngest driver ever to claim a NCWTS title (19 years, 5 months, 21 days) and first NASCAR Next alum. He also became the first to win a driver's title for Kyle Busch Motorsports. "He put it to me when he beat me in a Super Late Model race," recalled Busch, who will race for the Sprint Cup title on Sunday. "I tend to pick up on the talent of younger kids. Actually, the first time he raced against me, he blew my doors off, then blew up 40 laps later. I said, 'Good. I don’t have to race (against) this one.' " There was no blowing up Friday night. Jones entered the race 19 points ahead of Reddick, his nearest competitor, and 32 points ahead of Crafton, the Keystone Light Pole-sitter. Making his first HMS start, Jones needed only to avoid trouble and finish 15th or higher to claim the series crown. Jones, who notched three wins this season and has seven career NCWTS victories, finished sixth in the race behind Ben Kennedy and Timothy Peters . He qualified fifth and was content to race safely and efficiently, remaining in the top 10 for most of the race and avoiding any calamity on the track. "I can't think of a better way to repay these guys. I can't think of a better ending than that," said Jones, who expects to drive full-time in the XFINITY Series for Joe Gibbs Racing next year after parts of three seasons with Kyle Busch Motorsports. "Eric's done a lot of growing up in a short period of time," Busch said. "I'm glad he stuck with me and our plan. I think he has a lot of bigger and greater things ahead on his plate." NASCAR Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next alum Daniel Suarez appeared to have the strongest truck early in Friday's race, charging from sixth to the lead. But Suarez slid up the track into the truck of Dexter Stacey on Lap 61, falling back to 15th, then found the wall again on Lap 83. That left Crafton in position to dominate the race. He led 93 of the 134 laps, leaving NASCAR Next driver Nemechek (Chevrolet) and Reddick (Ford) in his wake to battle for second. Reddick, driving for Brad Keselowski Racing, started fourth and advanced to second behind Crafton with 40 laps to go. But by then, Jones, who briefly slid back to 14th after a caution flag shuffle, had rallied to seventh, keeping Reddick, also a 19-year-old driver, at bay in the chase for the title. "We were very consistent this year. I'm proud about that," Reddick said. "We just have to move on to next year. I know what second place feels like and I really don't like it too much. If I didn't have enough reasons to win a championship, I've got one more."
Brad Keselowski Racing announced on Thursday that Austin Theriault has been medically cleared to return to racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway . The 21-year-old suffered a 10 percent compression fracture of the lower back in a crash while wheeling the No. 29 BKR Ford during the Rhino Linings 350 on Oct. 3 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . "I'm looking forward to getting back in the Cooper Standard Ford F-150 and being fast at Homestead," Theriault said in a team press release. Due to the incident, Theriault has been rehabilitating and staying out of competition for the last four races -- Brian Keselowski , Austin Cindric and Ryan Blaney have each taken turns driving the No. 29 during his absence. Despite the difficulties he has faced, Theriault's 2015 season includes two top fives and four top-10 results in eight NCWTS starts, which he will look to add to during Friday's Ford EcoBoost 200 (8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM). Been a long time a coming. Glad he is now cleared and feeling great after Vegas. https://t.co/nAWsmzkeDE — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) November 19, 2015
In just three short days, the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion will be crowned -- and for perhaps the first time in Truck Series history champagne will not be sprayed during the champ's celebration. Why's that? Because the two drivers gunning for the title, Erik Jones and Tyler Reddick , are both just 19 years old -- making the future 2015 champion, whoever it is, the youngest in Truck Series history. "It's cool to have the opportunity to win both Rookie of the Year and the championship in the same season," Jones said during a Tuesday teleconference. Leading the tight standings battle, Jones is going into Homestead-Miami Speedway 19 points ahead of Reddick. Jones has never made a Truck Series start at Homestead, while Reddick has one under his belt when he finished sixth in 2014. Both of the young drivers have had a lot of influence from NASCAR's Sprint Cup star Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch , as Reddick drives for Brad Keselowski Racing and Jones for Kyle Busch Motorsports. "The biggest thing for me (to get adjusted to) has been the short tracks," Reddick said. "When I first came into this deal I had very minimal short-track experience. Coming from the dirt racing world I had to unlearn everything and then learn it again. I've leaned a lot on Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney ." And just as Keselowski has been a mentor to Reddick, Kyle Busch has done the same for his phenom. "I've leaned a lot on Kyle, trying to figure out how to be better at the mile-and-a-half tracks," Jones said. "I think we've come a long way since 2013, KBM has come a long way." Jones recently gained experience behind the wheel of a Sprint Cup Series car, piloting the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota during Matt Kenseth 's two-race suspension, where he finished 12th and 19th at Texas and Phoenix, respectively. Jones also filled in for Kyle Busch at Kansas this season when the JGR driver was out for injuries. Jones finished 40th there. Tune in as the Camping World Truck Series takes the Miami track on Friday, Nov. 20 at 8 p.m. ET for the Ford EcoBoost 200 (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM).
RELATED: After the Lap Sweepstakes One of the year's hottest events, NASCAR After The Lap Sponsored by Ford and Sprint (streaming on NASCAR.com Dec. 3), will be hosted by motorsports TV personalities Courtney Hansen and Rutledge Wood. Hansen recently chatted with NASCAR.com's Pat DeCola to talk about the event, Jeff Gordon and her impressive car collection. Pat DeCola: So, you've got After the Lap coming up. It's always a good time -- you excited? Courtney Hansen: I've done some work with NASCAR and NASCAR.com in the past and of course I'm a huge fan and they know that and I'm good friends with Rutledge Wood. I think NASCAR felt it would be a great fit and I'm thrilled to be taking part in After the Lap -- the most unpredictable time of the year in motorsports. PD: Definitely. It wasn't that long ago that we saw Jeff Gordon break dance, so drivers really tend to be a little relaxed. CH: I love it, I love it. Apparently there's a little bit of alcohol involved so you never know what's going to happen. I think it's really fun for the drivers let loose in that way and get personal in a way that fans never get to see. PD: Exactly; for 36 races a year, things are so tense. Especially when you get to the Chase when things really tighten up. The past few weeks have been especially crazy. CH: They're so wound up and focused all year, they finally get a chance to let loose in Vegas and have fun with their fans. I think it's awesome. PD: You come from a pretty deep racing background. I hear your family even used to own a race track. CH: Yes, we used to own Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota so I grew up there a pit kid and my father (Jerry Hansen; three career Sprint Cup Series starts) raced Sports Car Club of America and won 27 national SCCA championships so my whole life was just going from one track from the next and spending a whole lot of time at BIR. I've been an enthusiast since I was born and (motorsports) is definitely in my blood. Because of hosting all these automotive shows and working with NASCAR and doing auto show appearances all over the country, I've had the chance to learn so much about cars and see the coolest cars on the planet and get to know a lot of the amazing people in the automotive world. The love just grows stronger and the passion runs deeper every day. It's an addiction for me. PD: Have you done any racing yourself? CH: You know, my parents forbid it. They're both very supportive people and they gave us a lot of love and support over the years but they just steered us away from motorsports. They would let us do anything besides race. Because that was always deterred, I never went that route but my brother did a little bit of racing and my sister was always wanting to race NASCAR. I'm a good driver, though. Whenever somebody sees me drive they say, "Oh, you're actually a woman who can drive and I'm like -- hey now!" But I've test driven cars. I test drove Lamborghinis at Homestead with magazine editors and other things like that. You know, I've driven cars around race tracks, but I've never done professional racing. PD: So you've probably got a killer daily driver then. CH: I've got a couple. I'm all about the American classics. Those are my favorite in the mix. I have a '57 (Ford) Thunderbird with numbers matching the original. I have a '70 (Chevrolet Camaro) Z-28 that is also numbers matching original. I have a '70 (Ford Mustang) Mach 1 that I got from DJ Funk Master Flex. I have yet to pick it up; I'm picking it up in New York on Thanksgiving weekend. I have an Aston Martin DB9 that's like my reliable daily driver when I want to get quickly around Los Angeles. And then I have a baby-friendly SUV ... Range Rover Sport that's super-charged. And then (automotive designer) Chip Foose tricked out a 2004 Thunderbird for me. Now I'm looking for a MOPAR; a MOPAR will round out the equation. PD: Those all sound really cool. I drive a Honda Accord. Did you have a favorite driver growing up? CH: My dad! No, I mean, of course I was young, but I loved Richard Petty. I've always loved Mario Andretti, who's a dear family friend. Dale Earnhardt Jr . ... I totally support him and would love to see him win a championship. My dad was always number one, though. I also loved Paul Newman, the actor. He's a very close family friend and my dad taught him how to race. He actually stayed at our cabin in Minnesota for like 20 years and raced Trans-Am Series with my dad ... I loved watching Paul Newman race and he was a very good racer. PD: Jeff Gordon has a final shot at a fifth championship this Sunday at Homestead. As a long time fan of the sport, what does Gordon mean to you? CH: Absolutely (I'm a fan). Jeff Gordon is a legend in the sport and he has such a huge fan base. It would be amazing to see him go out with a bang and win the championship. I don't think anybody would be disappointed by that. I think it'd be phenomenal to see him win one last championship and go out with a bang. I wish Dale was still in the Chase, of course. He was so close. It was disappointing. I think he's got a championship in his future and he's going to have a killer next season. I like all the drivers so it's hard for me to say I'd like to see one win over the other, but I definitely think the fans would love it and I would love to see Jeff clinch another title before he retires. I interviewed him years ago at Martinsville when I was doing some hosting with NASCAR and he said a quote -- and maybe it's been said before by various people -- but I just loved the way that Jeff said it. I said, "What does it feel like to go 200 mph?" and he said, "The rush isn't about the speed. The rush is when you're faster than everybody else." I loved that he said that. I loved that quote. PD: When you're on the stage hosting After the Lap, that's probably going to be one of the first times where Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth have been forced to interact since their run-in -- do you plan on playing into that at all? CH: I think if the drivers are cool with it -- I imagine they'll both have their opinions and their stance on the topic -- and the fans are definitely going to want to dive into that one ... I'll roll with it. I'll keep it light and fun. I think the job of Rutledge and I is to manage the crowd and interact with the drivers and facilitate the questions in a way that keeps everything lighthearted and fun. Ultimately, that's what it's about. If it starts to get negative or contentious or if there's an energy that's not welcomed in that arena, we'll steer it in a positive direction, but I think it'll definitely be brought up. It's one of the hottest topics of the season.
RELATED: Race results " Updated standings " Bubble watch AVONDALE, Ariz. -- A green-flag pit stop and subsequent caution nearly undid a season's worth of work for Martin Truex Jr . and his Furniture Row Racing team here Sunday evening. But when the skies opened up again and brought an end to the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway , Truex found himself officially locked in, one of four drivers that will compete for NASCAR's Sprint Cup championship next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway . "I feel like we've overcome a lot of obstacles, a lot of odds," Truex said of the Cole Pearn-led No. 78 team. "Just proud to be a part of this group and looking forward to having the opportunity to do something we've dreamed about our whole lives next weekend." He'll be joined by Jeff Gordon , Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch in next weekend's title determining race. Truex, 35, entered Sunday's race fourth in the points standings and six points ahead of Carl Edwards ( Joe Gibbs Racing ). Once the race, which was initially delayed for seven hours due to rain, got underway, the two drivers were never separated on the track by more than a couple of cars. Shortly after the race had passed the halfway mark, Edwards had managed to trim the deficit to three points. Green-flag pit stops began and both drivers had come to pit road when the second caution flag of the race appeared for a crash involving Joey Gase and Ricky Stenhouse Jr . What initially looked to be a devastating turn of events wound up being only a minor setback for Truex and the No. 78 team. Both drivers were among those caught a lap down, but Edwards, the first driver not on the lead lap, was the beneficiary of the free pass, putting him back on the lead lap. Truex, however, was one of the "wave-around" cars and because he had already completed his pit stop, rolled back into line in 14th, just two spots behind the JGR entry. Subsequent attempts at a restart were delayed by rain, and when the skies eventually opened up, officials declared the race over. Officially, 219 of the 312 scheduled laps were completed. With no restart, no positions changed hands and Truex was officially scored in 14th, edging Edwards (12th) to secure the final Chase spot by five points. "I was real concerned until I looked at the scoreboard, and then I was like 'OK, we're going to be fine. We're going to be back on the lead lap if we get going here,' " Truex said of the fallout front the caution flag. "Really the only guy we were racing was one car ahead of us. We felt OK about it, but you never know who could have (gone) up there and snuck out a win. "It was just one of those deals where I couldn't believe we got caught by the caution after running almost 200 laps almost green the whole race. We pitted a lap before the caution came out and that's a tough deal. That's happened to us … I can't believe how many times it's happened to us this this year. It's got to be 15 or plus times. We pit, the caution comes out and you're stuck a lap down. "It's really frustrating because we were having a solid night up to that point, certainly not as good as we'd hoped, but solid. It's always frustrating when those things happen." Edwards was hopeful that officials would get the track dry and allow the race to continue. "We want to race for sure," he said. "I don't care if we do this thing with row boats or on foot or whatever we got to do. I want to go race." Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other ideas. Truex, moves on, still in contention. For Edwards and the No. 19 team, ousted after coming so close, there was the understandable disappointment. Disappointment, crew chief Darian Grubb said, because of "how hard they've worked all year to come down to something as simple as a rain out." His team was a first-year outfit added to the JGR stable for 2015 with Edwards coming on board. The group won twice, at Charlotte and Darlington. "We feel like we could have raced our way back in there and have a shot at it," Grubb said. "We were still five points out, just like we were five points (out) coming in. We knew that was going to be a tough situation, but it ended up that bit us and I hate it for these guys."