HOMESTEAD (CBSMiami) — Jeff Gordon’s career in racing will come to an end on Sunday but not before taking one last shot at a title.
With four championships already on his resume, the driver known as the “Rainbow Warrior” hopes to ride off into the south Florida sunset as the 2015 Sprint Cup champion.
“If I could’ve scripted this thing in January or February, I don’t think I could’ve scripted it quite the way it’s going. I never dreamed that we could have an opportunity to be battling for a championship in my final race,” said the 44-year-old Gordon.
But while Gordon may be the sentimental pick among fans, he’s not the favorite to win Sunday’s Ford Ecoboost 400.
“You know this is about a championship race and four guys, but in the end, it’s also about one of the legends in our sport and making sure he goes out without having something that detracts from it,” said Kevin Harvick, another member of the Final Four, who’s out to defend his 2014 trophy.
Harvick grabbed last year’s “winner-take-all” Sprint Cup championship and would be the first since Jimmie Johnson in 2010 to win back-to-back championships. Most racing circles consider him primed to defend his title after a career-high 27 top-10 finishes this year.
“He’s the favorite. We’re the sentimentals. That’s all it is,” Gordon acknowledged.
While Gordon downplays a possible story book ending, the other drivers are well aware. But they say they won’t let up off the gas to hurt their own championship hopes.
“You know, I want to be a part of the time everyone remembers Jeff Gordon’s last race. Hopefully they’ll all remember Jeff Gordon’s last race by us winning. But, you know, if you don’t, you still want to be respectful,” said Harvick.
“If it comes down to a little bit of pushing and shoving at the end for the win, it just depends on what I feel the other guys are willing to put on the line,” said #78 Martin Truex, Jr., who’s considered the group’s biggest underdog.
Gordon doesn’t have to win the race outright. He just has to finish ahead of Harvick, Truex, Jr., and Kyle Busch.
It helps that he’s won here before.
“I just love this race track. It’s a great track for us to not only finalize my career but this championship battle. Plus, it’s a great town to have a post party,” Gordon laughed.