Jeff Gordon goes out with a bang — but not the one he had in mind

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Jeff Gordon stood in his team’s garage midway through the Brickyard 400 as laps were turned. Lap after lap.

In the midst of his year-long retirement celebration, Pittsboro, Indiana’s own hoped for something special, something memorable at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on this day.

In May, he drove the pace car for the 99th running of the Indianapolis 500. Here in late July, Gordon would give anything to be on the track and to have a chance for his sixth win here. A grand finale, if you will.

Gordon was ecstatic to drive the pace car at the Indy 500 last May. [Photo: IMS]

Gordon was ecstatic to drive the pace car at the Indy 500 last May. [Photo: IMS]

On lap 50 (of 164, an extra four for a green-white-checkered finish), Gordon got caught in a tough position, spun high on the track before touching into the wall. He then pitted and returned to the track, only to have to exit again to have repairs done.

“I saw (Clint) Bowyer get sideways,” Gordon said after the wreck. “I don’t know what caused it. Me and Kasey (Kahne) were trying to check up to avoid it. I don’t know if he got loose or we just both go loose together. Then, I just lost control and got in the wall.”

His 24 car pretty beat up, both on the front and rear, and his Hendrick Motorsports crew spent valuable time working to patch up his ride to allow him to get back out there. But then it was just sad. Turning laps for the sake of doing so for some points. (Just two points earned, by the way.)

Instead, of the storybook ending, “Jeff Gordon” is at the bottom of the results page — No. 42 — for the 2015 Crown Royal Presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard, his worst finish in 22 career starts. That’s not right.

It’s not right that Gordon, one of the great drivers, may race competitively for the final time at IMS and not be on the track for 54 laps. Gordon, 43, won the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994, and then again in 1998, 2001, 2004, and last year: 2014.

Kyle Busch owned the weekend, winning Saturday’s XFINITY Series race and then Sunday’s Brickyard 400 not even six months recovered from a broken leg and foot at Daytona International Speedway in February. Busch led the pack to start the green-white-checkered finish, just the second in race history and the first in 11 years, he choose an inside line and held on the final two laps.

Not only did he sweep the weekend, the first driver to do so, but Busch has come out on top in four of the last five Sprint Cup races, including three straight. That’s the story, just not here in Indianapolis.

Sports fans in this state are frustrated for Gordon. The 43-year-old said this was it, that this was his last race at this famed oval. But it shouldn’t be. It would be a shame if this how the five-time winner went out in Indy.

He may stick to what he said and be done, jump behind the camera with FOX Sports and be thankful to be in good health after putting his life on the line the last few decades, but it’d be fun — and right — for him to come back for another one.

What do you say, Jeff?

Top Five Finishers:

  1. No. 18 — Kyle Busch
  2. No. 22 — Joey Lagano
  3. No. 4 — Kevin Harvick
  4. No. 78 — Martin Truex, Jr.
  5. No. 11 — Denny Hamlin


  • 11th — No. 31 Ryan Newman
  • 15th — No. 48 Jimmie JOhnson
  • 22nd — No. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
  • 27th — No. 10 Danica Patrick
  • 28th — No. 14 Tony Stewart

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