Rick Hendrick: No pressure on Jeff Gordon in final season, he just has to win 14 races and championship

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Now that he knows 2015 will be Jeff Gordon’s final full-time season in the Sprint Cup Series, team owner Rick Hendrick isn’t putting any pressure on his longtime driver and business partner.

But he will be having fun with him.

During Thursday’s final session of the four-day annual NASCAR media tour in Charlotte, N.C., Hendrick jokingly told Gordon what he expected from him in his last go-round for Hendrick Motorsports:

“Mr. Gordon here has to win 14 races and the championship to go out in style. That’s his mission.”

Not surprisingly, Gordon, who shared the stage with Hendrick and teammates Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne, quickly grew wide-eyed as an incredulous look blazed across his face.

I don’t know where he keeps coming up with these numbers,” Gordon laughed, glancing at Hendrick. “The numbers continue to grow every time I see him.

“So I have to top everything I’ve ever done before in my final season? Got it.”

For the record, if Gordon were to win 14 races and the championship, he could check off quite a few things on his bucket list:

  • Fourteen wins would be the most Gordon has achieved in any season in his 23-year Sprint Cup career (topping his modern-era record of 13 in 1998).
  • It would give Gordon 106 victories for his career. That would place him second on the all-time win list (one ahead of David Pearson) behind Richard Petty (200).
  • Gordon finally would achieve the “Drive For Five” with a fifth Cup championship that he’s been pursuing now for the last 14 years.

When a reporter asked why he looked worried, Gordon laughed. “Because he (Hendrick) just told me I have to win 14 races and the championship,” he quipped. “This whole being my final season just became a breeze other than that part.”

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