MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- Jeff Gordon made sure to have a team photo taken before the green flag Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.
While the commotion around his car was nowhere close to what it was last November at Homestead-Miami Speedway in what was supposed to be his final Sprint Cup race, Gordon made sure to at least create a lasting memento if it was his last time taking a NASCAR green flag.
"Just like Homestead, you don't really know how special some of those moments are until years down the road," Gordon said. "Maybe that's just my personality when I can reflect on it, go back through my career.
"This has really done a lot for me integrating into the team and the organization. ... It's memorable, certainly. It's ironic this is the last one."
Gordon finished sixth in the Goody's Fast Relief 500 in his 805th and likely/possibly/maybe final Sprint Cup race. The four-time Sprint Cup champion does not have any additional races scheduled in a substitute role for Dale Earnhardt Jr.
With 93 career wins, the 45-year-old Gordon finished his eight-race substitute schedule with his best result in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 car.
"It's really tough to be out of the car and jump back in and race with these guys without having the week‑to‑week input into the car," said team owner Rick Hendrick, who called Gordon to share substitute driver duties when Earnhardt suffered a concussion. "Don't you guys agree, he's too young to retire? He's too good. Maybe we'll vote him back in. Maybe we can come up with a new deal.
"He's the one that said I could call him if I needed him."
Hendrick was joking about how he would want Gordon, an equity owner in Hendrick Motorsports, to sign a new deal. Hendrick has its four drivers for next year with Earnhardt saying Sunday he fully expects to return.
Gordon had no plans to slide behind the wheel in Cup this season as he spent the first half of the year in the Fox broadcast booth. The transition wasn't easy, but he appeared comfortable at Martinsville, where he has nine career victories.
Driving between fourth and seventh for the final 300 laps, Gordon got to be part of a 29-lap caution period as NASCAR tried to sort out a scoring issue. The problem stemmed when cars were running out of fuel after a caution interrupted green-flag pit stops.
A few weeks earlier at Dover, Gordon asked during the drivers meeting about a similar situation on how NASCAR would determine lead-lap cars. Gordon ended up being the lucky dog, restarting fifth and eventually appearing to be at least near the right spot on the grid.
"They've got to fix that scoring situation," Gordon said. "I called them out on it at Dover. ... Obviously they don't have it right.
"I don't think it affected us a lot, but it wasn't right the way they scored it and then we went green. And then we had to run there for 30 laps. That wasn't good."
Gordon fell back to seventh after the restart and then picked up one more spot before the finish.
"I would rather have won," Gordon said. "I felt like we had a fourth- or fifth-place car the run before that [set of pit stops]. I always want to get the most out of it and I was a little disappointed we didn't take off at the end. ... I was proud of this team, proud of my performance -- best finish I've had in this car.
"All in all, it was a great way to end our run here this year in the 88 car. I think this will be the last one. We'll see."