Jeff Gordon announces 2015 will be his last as full-time NASCAR driver

Gordon says he will compete for one last NASCAR championship in 2015

Jeff Gordon says he's not officially retiring. But he also says he has no plans as of right now to compete beyond the 2015 season.

The four-time NASCAR champion announced Thursday that the upcoming season will be the last time he will compete full-time.

“I thought long and hard about my future this past year and during the off-season, and I’ve decided 2015 will be the last time I compete for a championship," Gordon said in a statement released by Hendrick Motorsports. "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."

He added: "“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."

Gordon has spent all 23 years of his career driving the No. 24 car for Hendrick. His 92 career Cup series wins include championships in 1995, 1997, 1998 and 2001. He has finished sixth in points the previous two seasons.

“I will never be able to properly express the respect and admiration I have for Jeff and how meaningful our relationship is to me," Rick Hendrick said. "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.”

Gordon said: “I don’t foresee a day when I’ll ever step away from racing. I’m a fan of all forms of motor sports, 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 and will remain heavily involved with the company for many years to come. It means so much to have the chance to continue working with the owner who took a chance on me and the incredible team that’s stood behind me every step of the way."

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