Jeff Gordon appeared to have a race-winning car in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but a decision to pit for four tires late in the race dropped him far back in the running order and relegated the driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to a 10th-place finish.
In tying up that loose end from Homestead, Gordon explained that his decision was dictated by a choice made earlier in the race.
"I think the question really needs to be about, before that, why we didn't pit," Gordon said. "You take all the information you have from past history of long green-flag runs to the end of the race, track position, who's coming, who's not. ...
"We dominated that race, had a car that I think could have and should have won that race. But we all came in and got four tires. They throw the green, and caution comes out in three or four laps. We stay out, and I think we went one more round of green-flag run, four or five laps, and caution comes out again.
"At that point, that's where the race changed for us and really took us out of contention, because we decided to stay out, and all those other guys decided to come in, and there were just too many cautions at the end."
Gordon scoffed at the suggestion that he might not have wanted to restart up front on old tires at the end of the race, with the potential to affect the outcome of the championship battle.
"Heck, no, that had nothing to do with it," Gordon said. "It was all about winning the race, and knowing that those guys behind us had fresh tires, because they elected to pit, and that place eats tires up. ...
"What's really interesting is, when you look at (Sprint Cup champion) Kevin Harvick's position, he came down pit road and took four (tires) where some other guys took two, and he saw his championship chances completely go out the window. If you listened to his radio communication, it was, 'We're done, we're done.'
"But enough cautions fell after that to bring them back into it, and he did a great job, obviously, moving up through there. And that exact same thing that helped win him the championship is what cost us the win for that race."