I'm beginning to believe this could be Jeff Gordon's last year. When he said, during the Media Tour, that he would get out of the car and retire right away if he won the title, you could consider it something of a joke.

But, then, he said it again during Media Day at Daytona. It's not sounding so much like a joke now.

At this point, I'm not sure Gordon even knows what he'll do after this year, but it certainly appears that he's preparing himself, and his fans, to not be surprised if he walks away.

Look at the numbers: Gordon will be 43 this August; he has four titles and is third on the all-time wins list with 88. If he ever dreamed of matching Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt with 7 titles, reality now says that's not going to happen. Nor is he going to top David Pearson's 105 wins for second on the all-time list.

I can't believe he needs the money; and he has proved that he can have a career outside of racing with his TV guest-hosting stints.

Is Gordon still fiery competitive? You bet. Because of that, I can't see him as a guy who would be happy consistently running in the middle of the pack.

If this isn't his last year, you can bet that the end will come sooner rather than later. Jeff Gordon is going down as one of the greatest drivers this sport has ever seen. When he does leave, there is a generation of fans who will have a big adjustment; as they've never seen a Sprint Cup race without him.