HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Jeff Gordon won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2012 season finale’ at Homestead-Miami Speedway to lead five Team Chevy drivers in the top 10. It was Gordon’s second victory of the season, and 87th since making his series debut on Nov. 15, 1992.
“I knew we had a great race car going into the race,” said Gordon, driver of the DuPont 20 Years Celebratory Chevrolet. “At times I didn’t think we had a winning car, but you know what, we played the strategy perfectly, and we had a really good car. … This is a great way for us to end this season.”
Gordon’s previous best finish at Homestead was third in 2004.
“Congratulations to Jeff Gordon on his first victory at Homestead and the 87th of his career,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “It was a strong finish to the season for Jeff and Hendrick Motorsports, who are such great partners with Chevrolet.”
Jimmie Johnson, who went into the race 20 points behind Brad Keselowski in pursuit of his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver’s championship in seven years, encountered problems on pit road and on the track and finished in 36th-place at Homestead, ending up 43 laps off the pace. Johnson, a five-time series champion, dropped from second to third in the standings, 40 points behind Keselowski and one point behind Clint Bowyer.
“Congratulations to Brad Keselowski and team owner Roger Penske on winning the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship,” said Campbell. “Roger is a long-time racer and champion, and the performance of the No. 2 team this season is certainly worthy of a championship.
“We are proud of Jimmie and the No. 48 Chevrolet team that never gave up this year, and all of our Chevrolet teams in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. We are looking forward to starting the 2013 season strong at Daytona.”
Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, had been running near the front of the field when he had to return to pit road on lap 212 because of a loose lugnut, losing a lap, and then 13 laps later, a mechanical issue sent the No. 48 to the garage.
“Definitely a disappointing finish to it all,” said Johnson, who led three times for 25 laps. “We were putting the pressure on like we needed to. We had strategy on our side. Really in position to make it interesting there at the end. A couple of little problems; well, one problem then a fatal issue got us at the end.”
Kasey Kahne, in his first season in the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, ended up in fourth place in the standings, following a 21st-place showing at Homestead.
Ryan Newman (No. 39 US Army Chevrolet, third), Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Budweiser Chevrolet, eighth), Kurt Busch (No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet, ninth) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet, 10th) also finished in the top-10 for Team Chevy.
Chevrolet earlier clinched the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Manufacturers’ Championship for the 10th consecutive season, and 36th time overall.
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT 20 YEARS CELEBRATORY CHEVROLET – WINNER: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO END THE SEASON IN VICTORY LANE? “Oh my gosh, it means so much. This is for DUPONT right here. 20 years. That is a long time to be together with a sponsor. For them to commemorate that with this awesome paint scheme, this silver car means so much. I knew we had a great race car going into the race. At times I didn’t think we had a winning car, but you know what, we played the strategy perfectly, and we had a really good car. It is just unbelievable to experience this. After last week, then to come here and battle like this and end up in Victory Lane, just unreal. Have to thank Drive To End Hunger, DUPONT, Pepsi, Quaker State, Chevrolet. This team is just awesome. I love Alan Gustafson (crew chief). This is a great way for us to end this season. I know it’s about the championship, so turn it over to the champion.”
YOU AND CLINT BOWYER BATTLED AT THE END. IS THIS REDEMPTION AFTER WHAT HAPPENED LAST WEEK? “Can you believe that? There was one restart where I had Joey (Logano) and maybe Aric (Almirola) and Clint right there surrounding me. That thing is going to work itself out some way through racing. I felt terrible how I went about it, and I still regret the way I went about it. But, I can’t take it back. But what we can do is look forward and race guys as hard and clean as we possibly can. This is a great way to get some positive things going because this year has been really up and down. It’s awesome to be able to have my family here in Victory Lane. Have to thank Sprint, all the fans. What an amazing turnout this has been for this final race, and the championship battle. I’ve got to take my hat off to Jimmie Johnson and that team. They did an excellent job battling for the championship. I know they didn’t win it, but you know what, they were up against somebody really incredible in Brad (Keselowski). They did an excellent job. Paul Wolfe and the guys. I have got to say congratulations to Roger Penske on his first championship. I know how much that means to Roger being in the sport as long as he has.”
WHAT A SEASON IT’S BEEN. TO GIVE HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS IT’S FIRST WIN AND YOUR FIRST WIN AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY IS GREAT. DESCRIBE HOW YOU FEEL “This is just huge. Man, it’s been an emotional week and a hard one; one of the hardest ones I’ve ever gone through just looking back on my decision. So, to come here and focus on trying to win this race on 20 years of DuPont, that’s awesome to have them on the car here in Homestead with this silver commemorative paint scheme and for all that they’ve done. And this is half of my live that I’ve been at Hendrick Motorsports with DuPont. And I’ve got to thank Drive to End Hunger and Pepsi and Quaker State as well. But what an unbelievable week. There were so many ups and downs this week; and to be able to end in Victory Lane with just an awesome team effort was just awesome.”
HOW MUCH DID THE TRACK CHANGE THROUGHOUT THE RACE GIVEN THAT WE STARTED UNDER HOT SUNNY CONDITIONS AND THEN FINISHED AT NIGHT? “When we took off there, I was a little concerned. My car was really good in practice; especially in slick conditions on the long runs and we struggled a little bit there in traffic and then eventually the car really started coming to me and we started getting in some cleaner air and made some good adjustments and man, we were up there I think as good as the leaders. And then we had a little bobble on a pit stop and some other things that didn’t go our way, but the fuel mileage did. Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) made a great call by coming in. I don’t know what happened to the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and it was just us and the No. 15 (Clint Bowyer) and I got him in traffic and it was just adjustments there. The car was great and saved a little fuel and it felt amazing.”
WHERE DOES THIS WIN STACK UP IN YOUR CAREER WINS? “Well, this is huge. We won in Pocono and it was not the kind of way you want to win a race. This is the way you want to win a race, by just going to battle with them and having a good race car and playing it all out really smart. Having my family in Victory Lane means more to me than anything. It’s something that (during) those 13 win seasons and all those things, I didn’t have. So, this is just an amazing feeling to get my first win at Homestead as well as Rick Hendrick’s first win at Homestead. And to do it with this 20th Anniversary DuPont car, especially after what happened last weekend, is incredible. I didn’t think we’d be able to get to Victory Lane this weekend.”
RYAN NEWMAN, NO. 39 U.S. ARMY CHEVROLET – FINISHED THIRD: THIS IS A VERY SOLID END TO YOUR 2012 SEASON. TELL US ABOUT YOUR RACE HERE TODAY AT HOMESTEAD “I’m just proud of the guys. We had a horrible short-run car but we had an awesome long-run car. The U.S. Army Chevrolet, four years strong, and we’re proud to represent them and proud of their support and we wanted to finish on a great note. We’re just happy we can end the season on a good note and go into the off-season and build momentum for 2013.”
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 BUDWEISER CHEVROLET – FINISHED EIGHTH – ON HIS RACE: “That was a battle. We just kept working on our car all day, and we were able to get it better. Just pitted at the right time, and were able to save enough gas to get in our pit window. We’ve worked hard on fuel mileage, and it paid off for us today.”
KURT BUSCH, NO. 78 FURNITURE ROW RACING/FARM AMERICAN CHEVROLET – FINISHED NINTH: ON HIS RACE: “I just can’t thank the guys enough for putting me in position for a top-five but the balance wasn’t there at the end. We had radio issues and did not have two-way communication and that made it difficult to dial in the car. I could hear them, but they couldn’t hear me. I was not aware of a fuel issue — had I known I could have saved two positions. We ran out of fuel coming into Turn 4 on the final lap. It appears we had a short in the wire. All-in-all we finished the season strong with three straight top-10s and four straight 10 15s. You can’t ask for much more in a short period of time together. We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress in six weeks. Some of the handling issues we’ve had have been narrowed down in these six weeks and that’s a big plus heading into the offseason. Congratulations to Brad and Penske Racing.”
JAMIE MCMURRAY, NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS CHEVROLET – FINISHED 20TH: ON HIS RACE: “We had a pretty good car today, we just battled with the car being really loose on entry and tight through the middle most of the race. Our last fuel run, we saved some fuel and managed to pick up a few positions in the closing laps. I am proud of the effort from all of the guys on the Bass Pro Shops team today and all year. I also want to say thanks to all of our partners on the No. 1 team for everything this year. We look forward to enjoying a few days off and then we will be right back to work focusing on having a strong 2013.”
KASEY KAHNE, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET – FINISHED 21ST: SUM UP YOUR FIRST SEASON WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS: “It was a pretty good season really. I mean it could have been better. I could have finished better tonight. I’m more thinking about tonight’s race than the season. I sped on pit road and that lost us a little bit of time there at the end. We just got off, we had to pit more than the other guys. So it is kind of what it is. With Farmers Insurance, Chevrolet, Quaker State, Hendrickcars.com, everybody did a great job. Fourth is okay.”
HOW AWARE WERE YOU OF WHAT HAPPENED TO THE NO. 48? “I have no clue. I was just trying to learn more about what went on. That last run was forever. So I just had no clue what was going on.”
HE HAD SOME PROBLEMS ON PIT ROAD, A LOOSE LUG NUT. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT POTENTIALLY COSTING HIM A CHAMPIONSHIP? “Where did Brad finish?”
15th…“So it would have been close, but Brad (Keselowski) was probably saving and stuff there at the end. So it’s hard to say, hard to just blame it on that. I didn’t realize it was that close.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA, NO. 42 TARGET CHEVROLET – FINISHED 28TH: ON HIS RACE: “It wasn’t the weekend we had hoped for or the way we wanted to close out the 2012 season. What a tough year for the Target team. We still have a lot of testing coming up and with the new car and new motors next year I’m looking forward to a fresh start. I’d like to thank Target and all the partners for their support this year and we’ll go chase that championship next year.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 LOWE’S CHEVROLET – FINISHED 36TH: NOT THE WAY YOU WANTED TO END. PUT A BOW AROUND YOUR SEASON AND YOUR DAY HERE AT HOMESTEAD: “Definitely a disappointing finish to it all. We were putting the pressure on like we need to. We had strategy on our side. Really in position to make it interesting there at the end. A couple of little problems, well, one problem then a fatal issue got us at the end. We are not sure why we lost the rear-end gear. There is oil everywhere something happened back there. Disappointing for sure, but I’ve got to reflect back on an amazing year and a year where we won a lot of races, led a lot of laps, so I need to thank everybody at Hendrick Motorsports for their efforts. Lowe’s and their support, my family, Chevrolet and my wife and daughter for their great support too.”
WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE THE LAST 20 MINUTES? “Pretty heartbreaking, you know. We were doing what we needed to, and certainly in position to put a lot of pressure on the No. 2 car. It’s racing. Stuff happens. It’s out of my control certainly. I just have to reflect back on an amazing year. A ton of effort from everybody at Hendrick Motorsports, especially this No. 48 team. Great support from Lowes, Chevrolet, my fan base, my wife and daughter. Definitely not the result we wanted. But, I’m very proud of how we raced in all year long; the success we had on track; the pace we had on track. We didn’t get the result, but that’s life. We’ll come back next year again.”