Reflecting on Jeff Gordon’s illustrious career
Photo by Racing One/Getty Images
Jeff Gordon at Sonoma Raceway in 1998. Our David Swope takes a look back at Jeff Gordon's career and what's possibly next for the four-time champion.






By David Swope
On-Air Analyst
January 24, 2015
theracingexperts@aol.com




DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

 

Four-time Sprint Cup champion and NASCAR icon Jeff Gordon announced his decision Thursday to no longer compete as a full-time driver at the conclusion of the 2015 season. Gordon declined to call it retirement and discussed with the media the possibility to run races in NASCAR’s lower series.

Gordon returned to championship form in the 2014 season. Highlights included four victories, three poles and 14 top-five finishes, making Gordon a front runner to win the Chase for the Sprint Cup in NASCAR’s revised format until the incidents at Texas Motor Speedway ultimately cost Gordon a chance at an elusive fifth title. We all remember what happened after that race!


Gordon came into the NASCAR Winston Cup series in 1992 in the final race of the season as a brash California kid in a Southern dominated sport. Coincidentally, that race was the Hooters 500 in Atlanta and was Richard Petty’s final race, almost symbolic of the changes that would come to NASCAR and the expansion of the sports appeal beyond the Southeast part of the United States.



Photo by Racing One/Getty Images
Jeff Gordon celebrates his win at Michigan International Speedway in August 2014. The win was Gordon's 91st career victory.

With early and eventually consistent success, Gordon earned the respect of his fellow drivers well before that of the traditional NASCAR fans. Gordon’s career to date includes 92 victories (third all-time behind only Petty and David Pearson) over 761 starts, giving Gordon a winning average of approximately 8.2 percent with 320 top 5’s, 454 top 10’s and 77 poles.

Questions will arise to the vacancy left by Gordon’s departure. Let me be the first to suggest that the heir-apparent is in the wings, and with Kasey Kahne signing a contract extension, the timing could not be better.

One more year in the Xfinity Series for Chase Elliot, the guidance of Rick Hendrick, Father Bill Elliott and a second generation NASCAR Champ in Dale Earnhardt Jr. sculpting the career of young Elliott may be the smooth transition after losing a driver of Gordon’s caliber. And with the loyalty from a sponsor like NAPA Auto Parts, why not?

What might be left in the tank for Gordon? Will Gordon start his own NASCAR team? Not a crazy idea because Gordon has the competitive spirit, a business mind, an all-star name and a plethora of sponsors. When Gordon is done racing completely, an illustrious career in philanthropy would not be impossible. Just wait for Gordon’s next rebirth.


Who do you think replaces Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 in 2016?
No one
Chase Elliott
Kasey Kahne
Someone else
Too early to tell
Poll Maker