From ‘The Kid’ to the seasoned veteran, Jeff Gordon set for milestone in 2014

Jeff Gordon has come a long way since his days as "The Kid" of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Remember when Jeff Gordon used to be called "The Kid?"

Don’t look now, but with Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip and Ken Schrader no longer racing full time, Gordon will enter the 2014 season with the most starts among active full-time drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Gordon has the longest active tenure as well, having made his Cup debut at Atlanta in 1992.

But at least Gordon won’t be the oldest full-time driver in the Sprint Cup Series next year. That honor belongs to Joe Nemechek.

I just love that I can be this age, at this point in my career, and still be competitive enough to win races.

- Jeff Gordon

Here’s how the numbers line up for the full-time NASCAR senior citizen drivers as of Jan. 1, 2014:

Joe Nemechek, age 50, 651 career Cup starts.

Greg Biffle, 44, 402.

David Reutimann 43, 232.

Tony Stewart, 42, 521.

Jeff Gordon, 42, 725.

Gordon knows he’s not "The Kid" any more.

"You have to know, I look around the drivers’ meeting every once in a while and I go, ‘Wow. Other than when Mark (Martin) is racing or Michael Waltrip is racing, I don’t see anybody I started racing with," Gordon said.

Gordon said the age disparity hit him last summer at Kentucky Speedway, when Bobby Labonte, who is seven years older than Gordon, missed his first Cup race after 704 consecutive starts.

"I really truly was looking around going, ‘Oh, my gosh, I really am getting old,’" Gordon said. "And yet, I just love that I can be this age, at this point in my career, and still be competitive enough to win races. That to me is what it’s all about."