The Victory Lap: Gordon Drives Into The Sunset


The Victory Lap takes the important points of each week and offers analysis on how it all happened in addition to predictions on the week to come.

As NASCAR’s off-season is coming towards a close the intensity is picking up leading into the Daytona 500 on February 22. There hasn’t been a bigger story this past week than Jeff Gordon announcing that 2015 will be his last full-time season competing for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. This announcement has been a long time coming but at the same time took many fans by surprise. Gordon’s Cup Series career started in 1992. Since that time Gordon has won 92 Sprint Cup Series races and claimed four championships. Gordon has done it all in his storied career. Championships, Daytona 500 wins, All-Star wins, and victories at virtually every track on the schedule. With nothing left to prove it will create an extremely exciting and emotional 2015 for Gordon and his fans.

Back pain has plagued Gordon throughout his career and most definitely played a part in his decision. He also has a family and the schedule of a Sprint Cup Series driver doesn’t leave much time for Gordon to just be a dad. Looking back at the intensity Gordon showed last season would’ve been due to the fact that he knew this announcement was getting close and would only leave him only one more chance at a fifth championship.

When the checkered flag drops at Homestead in November I don’t think we’ll have seen the last of Gordon on the racetrack. A few big races a year would keep Gordon involved but still give him a life with his family. An excellent way for Gordon to give back to the sport in 2016 and beyond would be running a part time schedule in the Xfinity or Camping World Truck Series. There is plenty of young talent in these two series and giving them a chance to compete and learn from Jeff Gordon would be beneficial. It would also draw more fans to watch those series since Gordon will no longer be competing at the cup level. Tony Stewart has even offered Gordon the opportunity to race in the 2016 MudSummer Classic at Eldora:

Another big change that has gotten a lot of attention is NASCAR’s new approach to souvenir sales at the racetrack. The days of each team bringing their own haulers and lining up outside the track and sell merchandise are over. Fanatics will partner with NASCAR to create a large superstore environment. Many fans are unhappy about the change as it will consolidate all merchandise sales into a smaller environment making shopping for merchandise an elbow-to-elbow affair and a headache. Not to mention the nostalgia that came with the haulers making the at track shopping experience different from every other sport.

However, this method of selling merchandise also came with a pricy operating cost. Each team was responsible for the operation of each of their haulers. This included paying employees, purchasing the rig that hauled the merchandise, and moving the hauler from track to track. As we all know it hasn’t pleasant experience pulling up to the pump in the past few years. Pair that with the growing popularity of online shipping and it makes all the business sense in the world to find another way to sell merchandise at the racetrack.

If Fanatics and NASCAR can create an environment that is comfortable for the fans then I don’t see any reason why the new setup won’t be a hit. A new method of selling merchandise is going to be far better than no merchandise sales at the tracks due to expensive operating costs. As for the concern about the superstore being packed with people I don’t see that being an issue. Anywhere there is a large group of people there will be lines. It could be at the merchandise store, hauler, concession stand, and even to get into the racetrack. Fans will enjoy the experience if they plan ahead for these situations. Either way it is a win for NASCAR/Fanatics because they are selling merchandise and a win for the fans because they are getting the shirt, hat, or die-cast that they want. In the end that is the ultimate goal.

Aaron Hale is a Staff Writer for on the FanSided Network. Follow us on Twitter @Beyond_The_Flag and “Like” us on Facebook.