The Rainbow Warriors will be looking for another pot of gold in 2016 following Jeff Gordon’s announcement yesterday that he will step away from full-time driving after the 2015 season. After 23 years of racing at the top level of NASCAR, Gordon, 43, plans to hand over the reins of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports race car.

Despite stepping out of the No. 24 Chevrolet, it doesn’t sound like Gordon is really ready to hang up his helmet and walk away from the sport altogether.

“I won’t use the ‘R-word’ [retire] because I plan to stay extremely busy in the years ahead, and there’s always the possibility I’ll compete in selected events, although I currently have no plans to do that,” Gordon said in a press release.

Gordon, 43, is by far one of the most dominant NASCAR drivers since his debut in 1992, and even though it’s been 14 years since his last championship, he and the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team are consistently contenders to win races and championships.

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France responded to the news by saying: “Jeff Gordon transcends NASCAR and will be celebrated as one of the greatest drivers to ever race. On behalf of the entire NASCAR family, I thank Jeff for his years of dedication and genuine love for this sport, and wish him the very best in his final season.”

As for who will be replacing Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports isn’t making any announcements just yet.

Click past the jump to read more about Jeff Gordon’s NASCAR racing career.

Jeff Gordon’s Career Brief

Jeff Gordon has raced his entire professional career with Hendrick Motorsports and the No. 24 Chevrolet team, and throughout the years he has established himself as one of the best racers of all time. His NASCAR career started on November 15, 1992 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, but he ended up finishing in 31st place in that race following a crash.

The following year – his first full season in competition – he finished in the top 10 in nine races (including a fifth-place finish at the season-opening Daytona 500) before going on to be named the 1993 Rookie of the Year. Gordon won his first race at the top level of NASCAR on May 29, 1994 at the Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, and later that season he collected his second win at the inaugural Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis. In 1995, he earned his first of four NASCAR championships, and he did so at the age of just 24 making him NASCAR’s youngest champion.

Gordon’s racing accomplishments include being a four-time NASCAR champion (1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001), a three-time Daytona 500 and a five-time winner at the Brickyard 400. Through the 2014 season, he has racked up a total of 92 wins putting him in third place in all-time NASCAR history behind only Richard Petty and David Pearson. These wins show Gordon’s versatility as coming on short tracks, super speedways and road courses with a total of 12 restrictor plate wins and nine road-course wins (both NASCAR records). Gordon has posted a victory at every track in NASCAR except for the Kentucky Speedway, but he will seemingly get his final attempt at this feat when NASCAR races this year on July 11.

In 2013, Gordon set another NASCAR record by earning a pole for the 21st consecutive season, which is a record he continued in the 2014 season. Last year, Gordon finished in sixth place in the driver standings with four wins and three poles, and his fifth victory at the Brickyard tying him with Michael Schumacher for the most wins at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Press Release

Jeff Gordon to run final full-time NASCAR season in 2015
By HendrickMotorsports.com

CONCORD, N.C.– Jeff Gordon, the celebrated stock car champion whose crossover appeal helped take NASCAR into the mainstream, will compete in his 23rd and final full-time Sprint Cup Series season in 2015. He announced his decision this morning to the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team he has driven for since November 1992.

“As a race car driver, much of what I’ve done throughout my life has been based on following my instincts and trying to make good decisions,” Gordon said. “I thought long and hard about my future this past year and during the offseason, and I’ve decided 2015 will be the last time I compete for a championship. I won’t use the ‘R-word’ because I plan to stay extremely busy in the years ahead, and there’s always the possibility I’ll compete in selected events, although I currently have no plans to do that.

“I don’t foresee a day when I’ll ever step away from racing. I’m a fan of all forms of motor sports, but particularly NASCAR. We have a tremendous product, and I’m passionate about the business and its future success. As an equity owner in Hendrick Motorsports, I’m a partner with Rick (Hendrick) and will remain heavily involved with the company for many years to come. It means so much to have the chance to continue working with the owner who took a chance on me and the incredible team that’s stood behind me every step of the way.

“Racing has provided a tremendous amount of opportunity that’s been extraordinarily rewarding and fulfilling in my life. The work we’re doing with the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation will continue to be extremely important to me. Outside the race car, my passion is pediatric cancer research, and my efforts will remain focused there when I’m no longer driving.

“I’ll explore opportunities for the next phase of my career, but my primary focus now and throughout 2015 will be my performance in the No. 24 Chevrolet. I’m going to pour everything I have into this season and look forward to the challenge of competing for one last championship.

“To everyone at NASCAR, my teammates, sponsors, competitors, friends, family, members of the media and especially our incredible fans, all I can say is thank you.”

Gordon, 43, has earned four career Cup championships, 92 points-paying race wins and 77 pole positions, all for longtime car owner Rick Hendrick. He is third in all-time victories behind only NASCAR Hall of Fame drivers Richard Petty (200) and David Pearson (105).

One of the most versatile drivers of his era in any auto racing discipline, Gordon’s résumé includes three Daytona 500 victories and a record five Brickyard 400 wins. He is the sport’s winningest road course driver with nine victories, stands alone as the all-time leader with 12 restrictor plate wins and has won at every track on the Sprint Cup circuit with the exception of Kentucky Speedway.

“There’s simply no way to quantify Jeff’s impact,” said Hendrick, who first noticed Gordon during a race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March 1992. “He’s one of the biggest sports stars of a generation, and his contributions to the success and growth of NASCAR are unsurpassed. There’s been no better ambassador for stock car racing and no greater representation of what a champion should be. I will never be able to properly express the respect and admiration I have for Jeff and how meaningful our relationship is to me. I’m so grateful for everything he’s done for our company and my family, and I look forward to many more years together as friends and business partners.”

Hendrick Motorsports will announce plans for its 2016 team alignment at a later date.

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