Jeff Gordon - NASCAR Banquet transcript

"2012 was a roller coaster ride of a season for us. It started with me barrel-rolling down the front straightaway at Daytona. Following that up with a rare blown engine in the 500. I should've known right then, this was going to be one of those years. The only thing consistent for us this year was that we had fast race cars and a lot of ups and downs. When you go through a season like we had, it tests you in every way. All of our emotions were like a roller coaster ride as well. Moments like we had at Richmond, that you just saw, when we started the race, went down a lap very early, but we never gave up and seized the opportunity to make it into this year's Chase.

But to follow that up, the next week, with the problem we had at Chicago while running fourth all but sealed our fate for a Sprint Cup championship. When you put all of these things together, you find yourself experiencing your proudest moments and, at times, your least proudest moments. But that's what this sport does to each and every one of us. It's what I find, and I'm sure it's what so many others find, so intriguing to follow. It's what has brought this sport to the height that it is and keeps millions of the most loyal fans in the world watching every week.

Now, no one was tested more this year than my crew chief Alan Gustafson. I can't thank him enough for the great crew chief he is and the great team that he leads. Alan stepped up and took charge of this team. And that's what made the difference for us in making this Chase. Of course, none of this would be possible without our friends from AARP, AARP Foundation, Drive To End Hunger, and the best fans in the world -- NASCAR fans. Thanks to all of them, we've been able to help millions of Americans 50 and older that go hungry each and every day. But there's still so much more that needs to be done.

Nothing on the racetrack made me more proud this year than to give thanks and celebrate our 20th season with DuPont and Chevrolet in Victory Lane at Homestead. I can't wait to carry that momentum into 2013 with that all new Chevy SS. Congratulations again on that manufacturer's championship. Along with our 15-year relationship with Pepsi, all of us at Hendrick Motorsports are very fortunate to have the best partners in motorsports.

And speaking of Hendrick Motorsports, a huge congratulations to all 500 plus employees for their hard work and determination in getting all four of our cars into the Chase. I know how much Rick appreciated that, how proud that made him, and how much work went into it, as well as great teammates. Rick, we've been through a lot over the last 20 years. You've been a business partner, a great friend, and even a landlord when I needed a place to stay. I just can't thank you enough for everything. Congratulations on a great year. I know you came up just a little bit short, but another great year. And 200 wins, man that's awesome. Thank you buddy, for everything. And Linda, you look amazing as always tonight.

I'd also like to thank Quaker State, Bank of America, Time Warner Cable, Bosch, Freightliner, Siemens, Purolator, and Delphi. To NASCAR, Sprint, Sunoco, and Goodyear, thanks for allowing us to participate in such a great racing series. To everyone at JGI, PPR Plus, The Jeff Gordon Children's Foundation, your efforts are truly appreciated.

Certainly the highlight for me this year was experiencing Victory Lane with Ingrid, Ella, and Leo. The first time that all four of us were able to enjoy that moment together. I love you very much. And I hope they're in bed -- they better be in bed. Thank you to my entire family. All these years they've been so amazing supporting me.

Roger, Kathy -- incredible. I don't know what took you so long to get up here. You've won everything there is to win except this. But no one is more deserving. Congratulations, great job. And Brad -- right before I came up here, I tweeted you my congratulations, so we're good. I'm proud of you man, you're going to be a great champion. And to those that we lost this year, including Chris Economaki, certainly will be missed. Thank you all very much. Have great night."

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