Four-time Cup champion stops short of retiring, but 2015 will be his last full season.
Jeff Gordon will bid farewell to full-time Sprint Cup racing following the 2015 season.
Hendrick Motorsports announced on Thursday that the four-time NASCAR champion, who has been an integral part of the organization since November 1992, made his intentions known to the No. 24 team this morning.
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.
"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 in the release. "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.”
Over the last two decades, Gordon helped move NASCAR from a small regional sport to one of the most popular forms of mainstream entertainment.
In 22 seasons, the Vallejo, Calif.-native has amassed 92 wins – including three Daytona 500s and five Brickyard 400s including last year’s victory at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Only NASCAR Hall-of-Famers Richard Petty and David Pearson can claim more victories. He’s also earned 77 poles, which ranks him third on the all-time list.
"Racing has provided a tremendous amount of opportunity that's been extraordinarily rewarding and fulfilling in my life,” Gordon added. “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'm going to pour everything I have into this season and look forward to the challenge of competing for one last championship.
"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." In an era where free agency has changed the face of other major league sports, Gordon holds the distinction of sharing his entire Cup career with Rick Hendrick.
There's been no better ambassador for stock car racing and no greater representation of what a champion should be.
"There's simply no way to quantify Jeff's impact," Hendrick said. "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. Xfinity Series Champion and Hendrick development driver Chase Elliott is expected to take the reins of the No. 24 Chevy or become the fourth full-time driver in the HMS stable next year.