HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Jeff Gordon still has Cup title No. 5 in sight. And his boss expects Gordon to stick around a few more years to try and win at least one more.
Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick waved off any idea that Gordon’s career was nearing the finish line. Hendrick, who locked up three-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson through the 2015 season on Friday, said he expected Gordon to drive at least “three or four” more seasons before retiring.
Hendrick has long said Gordon has a “lifetime” contract with Hendrick Motorsports.
“As long as he’s going to drive in Cup, he’s going to drive in our car,” Hendrick said. “I’m hoping he’s going to drive a bunch of more years.”
Gordon said on Friday that his chronic back pain has improved and he’s still having fun racing. Gordon is third in the points standings and has one victory this season heading into Sunday’s finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“As long as I’m healthy and competitive and we have sponsorship, we’re out there enjoying ourselves, I’m going to keep doing it,” Gordon said.
The 38-year-old Gordon won the last of his four titles in 2001 and hasn’t won a Cup championship since the Chase for the championship format started in 2004.
“I think the old points system favors us,” Gordon said. “But I’m more inspired than ever with the new system to win it under the new format.”
He’ll try in his familiar No. 24 well into the next decade. Gordon refused to put a number on how many years he has left. At the end of last year’s disappointing season — when he went winless — he was considering only another year or two.
“Seasons like this add years to my career,” he said. “Seasons like last year, take away from them. Last year I was frustrated, not feeling good. I was like, give me a couple more years. Now I’m like, four, five, who knows?”
He has his aim on second place — only 61 points separate him from teammate Mark Martin.
Gordon has 82 career victories in a Cup career that dates to one race in the 1992 season. He went winless in his first full season in 1993 — something he didn’t do again until last year. He has 24 top-10s this season.
Gordon said his team may have lost an advantage over the other Hendrick drivers with all the crews sharing information, but it made the Hendrick organization stronger overall. Johnson, Martin and Gordon are trying to finish in some combination 1-2-3 in the standings after Sunday’s final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“I think if you’re confident in what you do and you put the right people in place, your team is still going to prevail,” Gordon said. “And the information you can get from your teammates can be very valuable to you.”