Jeff Gordon says Homestead probably his Cup finale – USA TODAY
Jeff Gordon said he won’t use the word “retire,” but his Sprint Cup Series racing days will most likely end Nov. 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“I think the chances are pretty good that Homestead will be the last race that you see me in,” Gordon told reporters Thursday. “I don’t know that for a fact. But I know that I’m not going to come back and do a part‑time schedule.”
Gordon left the possibility open for other forms of racing, including in the Xfinity Series, Camping World Truck Series, sports cars or off-road after he finishes the 2015 NASCAR season.
But more than being in a car, Gordon said he’ll be focused on a life after racing. That includes staying involved in NASCAR, but also spending time with his family and doing more for charity causes like pediatric cancer research.
“I’m going to be working,” he said. “I’m actually going to have to get a real job now. … I don’t plan on doing any racing, but I know I’m not going to be retiring because I have a lot on my plate already that we have plans for and we’ll be talking about in the future. And I’m excited about that. I really am.”
The decision to retire was due to multiple factors, Gordon said. Halfway through last season, the 43-year-old felt the timing was right both personally and professionally to run for the championship one more time and then give up his No. 24 car to someone else (team owner Rick Hendrick wouldn’t say who, but the speculation centers around Chase Elliott).
Gordon acknowledged his achy back “played a role,” but it wasn’t for the reason people might expect. The fact that he was still performing so well in spite of his back problems was “all I could ask for at this point in my career.”
Though he told Hendrick of the decision midway through last year, Gordon hadn’t broken the news to others until Thursday. That included his children, and Gordon said he began crying tears of pride when telling his daughter Ella of the decision.
“I’m just very proud of what I’ve done and what I’ve accomplished and what goals were set early in my career or as a young kid and how I’ve been able to get this far,” Gordon said. “Yeah, I’m a little sad that there is going to be a day when I step out of the car and it will be the last time. But I knew that that day was going to come at some time, and I think this is the right time.”
A corporate-friendly driver who made appearances in mainstream media, including hosting Saturday Night Live, Gordon transcended NASCAR and helped change the face of stock car racing.
But when it comes to what he’ll be remembered for on the track, Gordon said stats like his four championships and 92 wins weren’t what was most important.
“Quite simply, I’ll be happy if people recognize me as a great race car driver,” he said. “Because that’s all I ever wanted to be.”
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PHOTOS: Behind the wheel with Jeff Gordon