On Thursday, four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon announced that the 2015 racing season will be his last as a full-time driver in the number 24.
"As a race car driver, much of what I've done throughout my life has been based on following my instincts and trying to make good decisions. I thought long and hard about my future this past year and during the offseason, and I've decided 2015 will be the last time I compete for a championship.
"I won't use the 'R-word,' because I plan to stay extremely busy in the years ahead, and there's always the possibility I'll compete in selected events, although I currently have no plans to do that.
"I'll explore opportunities for the next phase of my career, but my primary focus now and throughout 2015 will be my performance in the No. 24 Chevrolet. I'm going to pour everything I have into this season and look forward to the challenge of competing for one last championship.
"I don't foresee a day when I'll ever step away from racing. I'm a fan of all forms of motorsports, but particularly NASCAR. We have a tremendous product, and I'm passionate about the business and its future success.
"As an equity owner in Hendrick Motorsports, I'm a partner with Rick [Hendrick] and will remain heavily involved with the company for many years to come.
"Racing has provided a tremendous amount of opportunity that's been extraordinarily rewarding and fulfilling in my life," Gordon said.
Rick Hendrick issued a brief statement about Gordon's decision.
"There's simply no way to quantify Jeff's impact. He's one of the biggest sports stars of a generation, and his contributions to the success and growth of NASCAR are unsurpassed.
"There's been no better ambassador for stock car racing and no greater representation of what a champion should be. I will never be able to properly express the respect and admiration I have for Jeff and how meaningful our relationship is to me. I'm so grateful for everything he's done for our company and my family, and I look forward to many more years together as friends and business partners," Hendrick said.
NASCAR chairman Brian France praised Gordon's career and dedication to the sport.
"Jeff Gordon transcends NASCAR and will be celebrated as one of the greatest drivers to ever race. We have all enjoyed watching his legend grow for more than two decades, and will continue to do so during his final full-time season. His prolonged excellence and unmatched class continue to earn him the admiration of fans across the globe.
"Today's announcement is a bittersweet one. I'll miss his competitive fire on a weekly basis, but I am also happy for Jeff and his family as they start a new chapter.
"On behalf of the entire NASCAR family, I thank Jeff for his years of dedication and genuine love for this sport, and wish him the very best in his final season," France said.
Entering the 2015 NASCAR season, Gordon has 92 career Sprint Cup wins in 761 consecutive starts in Cup Series races. Gordon in third all-time in wins behind NASCAR legends Richard Petty and David Pearson.
During his 23 year career, Gordon has won 4 Cup championships in 1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001. Gordon also has three Daytona 500 victories and a record five Brickyard 400 wins.