Jeff Gordon's #Drivefor5 ends with a sixth place finish at the Homestead Miami Speedway

Jeff Gordon, whose NASCAR career started 23 years ago at Atlanta Motor Speedway, took the checkered flag for the final time on Sunday at Homestead. His stellar career, in which he won 93 events, and took home the Winston Cup 4 times, ended as he drove his his No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet SS to a sixth-place effort.

"It has been the most amazing experience," Jeff Gordon said. "I am a little disappointed, I'll be honest. I thought going into today's race we had something for them. But I love the effort and we showed them what we are made of right there at the end by climbing our way back up to sixth. I am proud of everything. It is a happy, good day."

Behind him, Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS finished the last race of the season in ninth.

The entire day had a  special aura about it, as many of the drivers in the garage, as well as a vast majority of the fans, sported their favorite Jeff Gordon gear. His day was like many others in this farewell season, where competitors and fans wished him the best of luck. His car was surrounded anywhere it went in the garage area and on pit road. As he exited the stage for the final time following driver introductions, it was as if every professional photographer in the world surrounded him. It was surreal.

The track got in on the action as well. Fans sitting in grandstand sections 206 through 254 were be asked to perform two card stunts prior to the Ford EcoBoost 400 Cards were attached to the seats prior to gates opening on Sunday, and card stunt leaders at the base of each section will hold up cue cards when it is time to perform each stunt, and PA announcements as well as cues on Sprint Vision screens will also let fans know when it is time to perform the stunt. 

There were two card stunts during the pace laps of the Ford EcoBoost 400. The first will be a special message to Jeff Gordon, and the second will showcase the Championship 4 drivers.

Early on in the race, it seemed as though everyone's wildest dreams were going to come true, as Gordon took the lead. The crowd roared in excitement; a roar so loud it could probably be heard in Key West! Alas, it was not to be, as Kyle Busch went on to win his first championship, perhaps the first of several.

As the tributes to "Wonder Boy" continue to pile up, one thing is certain. The sport will never be the same without Jeff Gordon in the field, and Daytona won't feel right without him in the race. Chase Elliott will soon pilot the No.24, and perhaps one day people will look back on him as another multi-time champion who drove to prominence. Still, there will never be another group like the Rainbow Warriors. 

Fans are encouraged to share their photos and memories of Jeff Gordon via social media, using the hashtag #24ever.

Adam Sinclair

Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway almost 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.  

Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.

Be sure to tune in for his sports talk program, Thursday Night Thunder, where he discusses the latest in motorsports news with drivers, crew members, and fans. The show takes place (almost) every Thursday at 8:00 pm EST on the Speedway Digest Radio Network. 

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