Southsider Voice correspondent
What does the future hold for Jeff Gordon after his last fulltime ride in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series ends at the end of the season?
Gordon announced earlier this year that 2015 will be his final go-around after his resurgence last year by winning four races and being in The Chase until the last race.
Entering his 24th NASCAR season, the four-time NASCAR
champion pointed out why he is stepping down:
• The desire for more family activities with wife Ingrid and their children, Ella and Leo.
• Severe back pain, seemingly under control now, that flared again last May at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
• Subpar seasons that took the fun out of racing until 2014.
• A return to prominence in 2014 and a fifth Brickyard 400 win.
• Finally not letting team owner Rick Hendrick talk him out of
racing, which dates back to conversations in 2012.
“I hated to even think that this day would come,” Hendrick said during the Charlotte Motor Speedway media tour in late January. “I’m a pretty good car salesman, and I talked him into (racing) a couple of years anyway. I ran out of lines.”
Gordon’s future is solid with a lifetime contract with Hendrick. Gordon, who grew up in Pittsboro, is part owner of Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet and has many financial and philanthropic interests. Gordon does not want to be a full-time team owner.
“I don’t think he likes the R-word,” Hendrick said. “He can help motor sports in a tremendous way. I’m excited about the next level of Jeff Gordon’s careers.”
In just a few days the rejuvenated racer will shoot for his fourth Daytona 500 victory. Gordon, as he rediscovered last year, has the drive, equipment and crew to race for a fifth NASCAR title.
“The championship means more to me right now because of Ingrid and the kids,” said Gordon, who has been racing since he was 13. It’s a lot different when you have children because you see the world a little different. For Ingrid, kissing the bricks and being able to do that last year (at Indianapolis) was such an amazing experience for all of us. So the ultimate would be the championship.
“If anything that has motivated me to do much better this year and truly go out on top,” said Gordon, who sits on the poll for Sunday’s Daytona 500. When you’re part of a great team and have a great crew chief (Alan Gustafson) and they work hard, it means that you can be late in your career and still go out there and get it
Gordon can extend his legacy with every turn of the wheel: third all-time with 92 Sprint Cup wins, trails David Pearson (105) and Richard Petty (200); third all-time with 77 poles; second all-time with 761 consecutive starts; and 11th in all-time starts. He has prize winnings of $103.2 million and has completed 218,230 laps, led 24,664 laps and raced 284,832 miles in Sprint Cup events.
Gordon, a Tri-West High School graduate, examined his legacy. “I think, if anything, it’s about seeing a kid’s dream come true in real life in front of thousands if not millions of people. I just love driving race cars. Ever since I was a kid that's what I wanted to do was be a race car driver."