But only Gordon’s departure impacted the number of full-time drivers who have won the Daytona 500.
In his 24-year career, Gordon won three editions of the “Great American Race,” the last coming in 2005.
Entering the 2017 season, nine drivers in the Cup garage can boast victories in the biggest race of the year. Only three of those can brag even more about winning it multiple times.
Here’s a look at the nine full-time drivers who have triumphed in the Daytona 500.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2004, 2014)
With Gordon’s retirement, it made Earnhardt the driver with the earliest victory in the Daytona 500. It came six years after his father’s only win in the race in 1998.
Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2013)
A year after Gordon’s final 500 win, Jimmie Johnson began his first championship campaign with his first Daytona 500 victory. It gave Hendrick Motorsports its sixth win in the season opener, 20 years after Geoffrey Bodine earned the first in 1986.
Kevin Harvick (2007)
Harvick’s only Daytona 500 victory is one of the most exciting in recent memory and it came at the expense of NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin, who never won the event. In a green-white-checkered finish, Harvick edged Martin by .020 seconds as an enormous wreck unfolded behind them.
Ryan Newman (2008)
It took a last-lap pass of Tony Stewart for Ryan Newman to give Roger Penske his first Daytona 500 win as a NASCAR owner. Newman did what drivers like Rusty Wallace, Jeremy Mayfield, Bobby Allison and Kurt Busch couldn’t in the previous 36 years. It was made sweeter by Newman and Busch giving Penske a 1-2 finish.
Matt Kenseth (2009, 2012)
A year after Team Penske’s big win, Matt Kenseth gave Roush Fenway Racing its first victory in the Daytona 500 in its 21st attempt. The race was called due to rain after 152 laps. Kenseth would add to it three years later with another win. Kenseth remains the only Roush driver to ever win the Daytona 500.
Jamie McMurray (2010)
To start the most successful season of his career, Jamie McMurray got going by only leading the last two laps and outrunning Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a green-white-checkered finish. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver would claim the Brickyard 400 and the fall Charlotte race for a career-high three wins. McMurray’s win remains the only victory by Ganassi in the Daytona 500.
Trevor Bayne (2011)
When the green flag dropped for the last time on the 2011 Daytona 500, the top four drivers – Bayne, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin and Bobby Labonte – all had one thing in common: they’d never won the Daytona 500. Two laps later, Stewart and Martin were nowhere to be seen and Labonte was in fourth, watching Bayne win his first Cup series race in just his second start. In his 128 starts since his upset, it remains his only Cup series win.
Joey Logano (2015)
After four straight years of repeat winners in the Daytona 500, Joey Logano pulled out a win in his seventh start in the race. It gave Team Penske its second Daytona 500 win.
Denny Hamlin (2016)
With a surge down the backstretch, a dramatic pass of his teammate Matt Kenseth in Turn 4 and photo-finish with Martin Truex Jr., Hamlin gave Joe Gibbs Racing its first Daytona 500 win since 1993. Dale Jarrett gave JGR its first Cup win that year. Hamlin’s victory came in his 11th start in the race.