Newsletter Signup

LAS VEGAS -- Jeff Gordon knew it would be tough to get through his final speech as a driver at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards.

That was before Tom Cruise surprised him with a heartfelt introduction.

And even that was before NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France stepped to the microphone to offer Gordon one final award.

"This award is not given out every year," France explained. "Only when an individual or an organization has made a significant impact on the industry of NASCAR."

He then presented Gordon -- who he called "the very definition of a champion" -- with the Bill France Award of Excellence.

With that, it was time for the driver himself to step to the podium.

Watch his full speech above, courtesy of NBC Sports Network.