…To a Fantastic Career
The NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Homestead, Fla. saw more than just the end of the 2015 season. It also provided the setting for final race of one of NASCAR’s top stars. Jeff Gordon wrapped up his career in Sprint Cup racing with an attempt at one more championship.
It would have added yet another star to a brilliant career spanning from 1992-2015 and 796 consecutive races. From those years, the stats are impressive.
Start with four NASCAR Cup Series champion (1995, 1997, 1998, 2001), add 93 career Cup victories (third on the all-time list), clock 81 career Cup pole positions (third on the all-time list), nail down three Daytona 500 wins (1997, 1999, 2005) and five Brickyard 400 wins (1994, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2014) for NASCAR’s biggest events and three wins of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (1995, 1997, 2001) and add two NASCAR records for nine road course victories and 12 restrictor plate victories and yeah, the guy who started out with the nickname of ‘Boy Wonder’ did quite well for himself.
And as they often say in television infomercials, ‘But wait, there’s more!’
Gordon did his racing with only one brand of car – Chevrolet – and driving for only one team – Hendrick Motorsports. In these days of changing brands and teams as often as underwear, this is quite incredible.
Even the King, Richard Petty, drove and won with multiple brands. It was Gordon who won the first NASCAR title for Hendrick, whose total now stands at 11.
The association between Gordon and Hendrick would evolve over the years and when Hendrick wanted to start the #48 Lowes team with Jimmie Johnson, Gordon bought into it as half owner.
At homestead, Gordon reflected on his career after the race:
“To drive for one of the best car owners, if not the best, and drive the best race cars and work with the best people and that’s why I have the wins and championships that I have and why we did what we did here today in the final race battling for a championship.”
Gordon went into Homestead as one of the four drivers that could win the championship. When he took the lead, the capacity crowd’s cheers overrode the noise of 43 race cars. But the competition was fierce and came down to fellow Chevy driver Kevin Harvick, and Toyota driver Kyle Busch for the win and title. Gordon finished third in the final points standings.
“Well unfortunately I’m a little disappointed that we weren’t more of a threat for the championship,” said Gordon afterwards. “Beyond that, it’s absolutely been a dream come true. To get an opportunity to race at this level, to have the success that I’ve had, to have the sponsors that we’ve had and to have the fans that we have. The first one to the car was the team and Rick Hendrick and then my family. That is all that really matters to me. Those people are so important to me and make this all worthwhile. I told everybody before the race that no matter what we are going to be happy and celebrate. That is exactly what we are going to go do.”