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.