We all knew it would happen someday. And on Thursday January 22nd, it did: Jeff Gordon announced that 2015 would be his final full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. I knew the time was coming but it was still somewhat of a surprise. Jeff Gordon has been a staple in the NASCAR scene since his first full season back in 1993, when he won Rookie of the Year and showed everyone what was yet to come.
Jeff Gordon has accumulated 92 wins and 77 poles in his Sprint Cup career and hopes to add to that total in 2015. He probably won’t hit that 100-win mark before he steps down at the end of the season, but he hasn’t ruled out getting into a car from time to time, so it’s still possible.
Many were surprised with his strong campaign in 2014, which was his strongest in a long time. Many also wondered if it was because he already knew what was coming, and that maybe he was already contemplating stepping down. Whether you love him or hate him, you have to respect Jeff Gordon. This season will mark his 24th year in the series—technically, as he did make one start in 1992—and I guess it’s kind of fitting that the driver of the iconic 24 steps down after 24 years.
Chase Elliott Moving Up
There are rumors floating around (although none have been confirmed) that Gordon is stepping down to make room for the promising NASCAR star Chase Elliott. It is highly plausible that this is what is happening when you take into account the limit NASCAR places on the number of cars one owner can field. Chase has taken the XFINITY series by storm and Rick Hendrick kept saying last year that he already had plans in place whenever anyone asked about Chase Elliott moving up to NASCAR’s elite series.
Editor’s note: It was announced on 1/29/15 that Chase Elliott will in fact be taking over the #24 Chevrolet in 2016.
Since Jeff Gordon has a stake in Hendrick Motorsports (he is co-owner of the #48 car) it only makes sense that he would want to help the organization. He’s not going anywhere, and has stated that he will be working for Hendrick Motorsports for years to come—just not driving.
Jeff Gordon, 2015 Champion?
As far as the 2015 season goes, I think we can expect to see a strong run from Jeff Gordon in his final run for the championship, and expect Rick Hendrick to give him everything he needs to get that elusive fifth championship. Will it happen? That’s hard to say, but with how strong the #24 team was last year, it’s definitely not out of reach.