A year on from his retirement, Jeff Gordon announces his final NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. The stock car racing legend is to end his career at Martinsville, a personal favourite racetrack. This announcement comes one year after Gordon’s emotional victory at the track. As his time as replacement driver for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. comes to an end, Jeff Gordon resumes retirement after the Goody’s Fast Relief 500.
Jeff Gordon Resumes Retirement: Martinsville to be Last Race
Final Race Announcement
Jeff Gordon returned to the Sprint Cup field following Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s concussion. The Hall of Fame guarantee handed the No. 24 torch to Chase Elliott and took up the No. 88. Martinsville is an important track in Gordon’s career. Gordon’s nine victories at the track have cemented it among his favourites. After his storybook victory in 2015, it marks an appropriate location for his final race. In a press conference regarding this weekends race, Gordon tole reporters: “…I’d love to get these guys a great finish – you know, this is my last race.”
Although this statement appears final, it is not the first time Gordon has stepped down from the sport. In response to questions of his retirement, Gordon told NASCAR.com: “…never say never. I don’t know what to say. I really don’t think that I’ll be getting back in the Cup car again, but go ask Rick Hendrick. That really has more to do with him than anything else.” Gordon’s stepping in for Earnhardt quickly has shown his alleigance to Hendrick Motorsports over his own retirement. However, it is reasonable to assume that this statement is more final. Gordon’s place as analyist for Fox Sports NASCAR coverage conflicts with many significant races.
2016 Return and Performance
Gordon’s quick return after such an emotional sendoff was met with some skepticism. Although the context regarding his return was noble, there was worry his farewell would be tarnished. Having Elliott in the iconic 24 further complicated the situation, seeing Gordon racing another number for the first time since his time in lower tiered series. His performance across seven starts in 2016 have been lackluster. Gordon’s best finish in 2016 has been a tenth place finish at Dover.
With Gordon’s unparalleled success at Martinsville and it being the site of his last victory, there is a great opportunity for Gordon’s career to end on a high note. If Jeff Gordon were to find victory lane in Martinsville in 2016, NASCAR would see him sent into the history books with a checkered flag in his hand. As this is the image many have of the former “Rainbow Warrior”, NASCAR once again bids farewell as Jeff Gordon resumes retirement.