HOMESTEAD, Fla.—The final qualifying round of the 2015 season, and of Jeff Gordon’s career, ended with a mild surprise: Gordon qualifying second among the four drivers hunting for the 2015 Sprint Cup championship.
Denny Hamlin—”Mr. Irrelevant,” as he dubbed himself—won the pole. Gordon, after struggling early in the first round, managed to fight his way up to fifth. Kyle Busch will start third, Martin Truex Jr. will start 11th, and Kevin Harvick will start 13th.
“Sitting back here and watching Jeff talk and everything, it’s like, man, you know, I thought about it before, but I didn’t think about like how awesome it would be [for Hamlin] to win his final race,” Hamlin said. “No disrespect to him, but man, that would be awesome to win his final race. I hope he finishes third behind Kyle.”
Gordon, for his part, will not be going out quietly. “Obviously with our effort today in qualifying, I think we showed how bad we all want it, to be better than just being here battling for the championship and it being my final race,” he said. “When I‘m in the car, when I‘m in the garage, I’m very focused and I can’t say it’s about fun at that time, but when it goes the way it went in qualifying, man, that’s a lot of fun, and then just all the other interactions with the media, a few presentations, seeing those crew guys today, past crew members, I mean, that was awesome. How could I not be having the time of my life?”
PODCAST: Previewing Jeff Gordon’s final race and the NASCAR finale:
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