The 2015 season will be Jeff Gordon's 23rd as a full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. Much to the surprise of racing fans, though, it will also be his last.
According to Pete Pistone of MRN Radio, the 43-year-old star intends to retire following the upcoming 2015 campaign:
Per Dustin Long of NBC Sports, however, Gordon isn't classifying his transition away from a full-time schedule as a true retirement:
It was later revealed by FoxNews.com Gordon would be among "drivers used in a rotation to cover NASCAR's XFINITY Series this year for Fox Sports."
Gordon posted a photo of himself telling his team he wouldn't be competing after next season and said more to fans on his decision:
Gordon has been an icon almost since he started in the highest level of NASCAR racing, and ESPN's Marty Smith detailed the impact he's had on the sport:
The future Hall of Famer is leaving the door open for running in certain races in the coming years, which many of the best drivers in the history of the sport have opted to do after retiring from being full-time competitors:
Regardless of Gordon's plans beyond the 2015 season, the four-time points champion made it clear that he will always be part of NASCAR in some way, shape or form, via Nate Ryan of MotorSports Talk:
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.
Jenna Fryer of The Associated Press describes how Gordon told his crew and his family about his decision:
Hendrick will have to replace Gordon following the 2015 season, and while there is no guarantee regarding who will be asked to fill those gigantic shoes, reigning Nationwide Series champion Chase Elliott is a strong possibility, per Jenna Fryer of The Associated Press:
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick talked about Gordon's decision:
NASCAR CEO Brian France released a statement regarding the driver's decision:
Jeff Gordon transcends NASCAR and will be celebrated as one of the greatest drivers to ever race. We have all enjoyed watching his legend grow for more than two decades, and will continue to do so during his final full-time season. His prolonged excellence and unmatched class continue to earn him the admiration of fans across the globe. Today's announcement is a bittersweet one. I'll miss his competitive fire on a weekly basis, but I am also happy for Jeff and his family as they start a new chapter. 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.
Jeff Owens of Sporting News discussed the kind of farewell Gordon deserves:
Gordon is coming off of his best season in years, as he won four races and finished sixth in the standings. He barely missed out on being part of the Chase for the Sprint Cup's Championship Round, which would have allowed him to go for the title in the final race of the season.
There is no question that Gordon is as competitive as they come, so he will lay everything on the line in 2015 in an effort to go out on top.
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