This is the 23rd season that Jeff Gordon has competed in NASCAR's upper echelon of racing, the Sprint Cup series. For the last twelve years Gordon has been desperately trying to win his fifth Sprint Cup championship, the drive for five, to no avail.
Gordon's first full year competing in the Winston Cup, now called the Sprint Cup series, was 1993. In his first full year of competition at that level, Gordon finished a very respectable 14th as a rookie. By 1995 Gordon, his crew chief Ray Evernham, and the entire Hendrick Motorsports #24 team, had climbed to the pinnacle and claimed the 1995 Winston Cup championship, in just his third full season!
That '95 championship was only the very beginning of what was going to be a team and driver that was able to pull off four championships in eight years. If that isn't a dynasty, or at least a dominating organizational effort, then I am not sure what that would be called!
Through those 22 years Jeff Gordon, and his HMS #24 Dupont/Axalta Chevy has accumulated some really outstanding statistics! Gordon's total winnings have exceeded $142 million dollars. Total laps led for this team is 24,109 out of 213,943 laps raced. Additionally, Gordon has accumulated 76 poles and 91 wins in 748 races entered. In those 748 races Gordon has an average starting position of 10.4, and an average finishing position of 12.5.
Fast forward to this year, 2014.
In the first 23 races Gordon has amassed three wins, eight top 5's, and sixteen top 1o's. These stats have put Jeff Gordon at the top of the Sprint Cup points, so far. No doubt that, at least at this point in time, this is Jeff Gordon's best shot at trying to secure his fifth championship. That is to say that his drive for five is most definitely alive!
Earlier this season, most likely during the pre season media tour, Jeff Gordon made comments indicating that if he were to win another championship he (Gordon) could most likely retire.
In light of the fact that Jeff is 43 years old, and has a very realistic shot at being crowned the 2014 Sprint Cup championship, would he consider stepping out of the HMS #24 and retiring if he is the Sprint Cup champ?
Considering that Chase Elliott has quickly adapted to the Nationwide Series, currently leading the points, and could not only be that series rookie of the year, but could also win the championship for JR Motorsports. Additionally, Elliott is a Hendrick Motorsports "developmental driver"gaining experience and working his way into the Sprint Cup series, has been hinted as the possible replacement for Jeff Gordon.
Realistically evaluating all the above facts, could all these considerations lead to additional reasons why Gordon would step out of the cockpit, if he wins the championship this year?
Those questions, and many more, may be answered at the end of this season.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!