Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon announced Thursday he will retire after the 2015 season.
In a statement, the 43-year-old Gordon, who has raced with back pain in recent years, said: "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."
In 2014, Gordon won four of 36 races, and finished sixth in the standings.
The California Kid took NASCAR by storm in the 1990s, winning his first championship in 1995 at age 24. He went on to claim four championships in seven years. Between 1996 and 1998, he won more than one-third of the races he started.
Gordon's 92 race victories rank third all time. He has driven the No. 24 car for Hendrick Motorsports for his entire 23-year career.
NASCAR overhauled its points system in 2004. The format, called the "Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup," resets the championship standings for top-performing drivers with 10 races to go, giving more racers a chance at the crown.
If the points system hadn't changed to the playoffs-type format, according to NASCAR fan site Jayski, Gordon would have won three additional championships, tying the record of seven held by Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.
Instead, his "Drive for Five" has lasted 13 years — with one more attempt to come.