Gordon’s Daytona 500 farewell party a bust

Sun Feb 22, 2015 8:26pm EST
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By Lewis Franck

DAYTONA, BEACH, Florida (Reuters) - Jeff Gordon’s Dayton 500 farewell party ended in a bang but not the kind he had hoped as the three-time former winner waved goodbye to the Great American race with a last lap crash on Sunday.

After winning the pole and finishing second in a 150 mile qualifying race on Thursday, Gordon had set himself up as a favorite in the 57th running of NASCAR's showcase event.

A fourth victory, however, was not in the cards for the 43-year old, four-time NASCAR champion who announced that Sunday's 500 would be his last.

“That first half was amazing,” Gordon said. “I was enjoying that moment very, very much. Just being out front. Being in control of the race.

"I felt like we were just doing everything perfectly. The car was amazing.”

The race was the start of the final chapter of what has been a remarkable career for Gordon, who broke into the rough-and-tumble world of top flight stock car racing at the tender age of 21 and over two decades later exits as one of the all-time greats.

He made his career winning big races like the 500 in 1997 and would put his car in the Daytona Victory Lane again in 1999 and 2005.

In a career spanning 22 full seasons, he registered 92 careers victories and still retains a youthful appearance and energy   Continued...

Feb 22, 2015; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Gordon (24) before the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports