Darrell Waltrip announces retirement from Fox Sports NASCAR team

Fox Sports NASCAR analyst Darrell Waltrip has announced that he will retire at the end of the network’s broadcast season.

Waltrip was a member of the Fox Sports NASCAR team when it first went on the air in 2001, when he helped call the Daytona 500 that was won by his brother Michael, but is mostly remembered for the last-lap accident that took the life of Dale Earnhardt.

“Darrell has been the heart and soul of the Fox NASCAR booth since day one, so it’s incredibly bittersweet to know this is his final season,” said Fox Sports CEO & executive producer Eric Shanks.

Waltrip, a 3-time series champion, said he has been talking about the decision with his family for several months.

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“I have been blessed to work with the best team in the sport for the past 19 years, but I’m 72 and have been racing in some form for more than 50 years," Waltrip said. "I’m still healthy, happy and now a granddad, so it’s time to spend more time at home with my family, although I will greatly miss my FOX family.”

(AP)

The move comes just 2 days after the Associated Press ran a scathing editorial by NASCAR reporter Jenna Fryer advocating major changes in the broadcast booth, including Waltrip's retirement.

“The carnival-like yukfest is stale, the cornpone of it all only magnified since the network began using current drivers in its coverage of the Xfinity Series. Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and others have proven that by simply talking about the action in front of their eyes they can deliver an informative and entertaining program void of back-slapping tales and quips that consistently fall flat,” Fryer wrote.

Waltrip indirectly responded by tweeting the lyrics to Frank Sinatra's song "That's Life."

Several of Waltrip's friends and colleagues also came to his defense on social media.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. praised Waltrip's contributions to the sport, both on the track and in the booth.

Waltrip’s last broadcast will be during the NASCAR Cup event at Sonoma Raceway on June 23.

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