Jeff Gordon (center) partners with Waltrip (right) on Fox Sports broadcasts.
Fox Sports NASCAR badyst Darrell Waltrip announced he will retire at the end of the network's broadcast season.
Waltrip was a member of the Fox Sports NASCAR team when it aired for the first time in 2001, when he helped call the Daytona 500 that his brother Michael won, but he is remembered mainly for the accident of the last lap that claimed the life of Dale Earnhardt.
"Darrell has been the heart and soul of the NASCAR Fox booth since the first day, so it's incredibly bittersweet to know that this is his last season," said Eric Shanks, CEO and executive producer of Fox Sports.
Waltrip, a champion of the series 3 times, said he has been talking about the decision with his family for several months.
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"I've been lucky to work with the best team in the sport for the past 19 years, but I'm 72 years old and I've been running somehow for more than 50 years," Waltrip said. "I'm still healthy, happy, and now a grandpa, so it's time to spend more time at home with my family, although I will miss my FOX family a lot."
The action comes just two days after the Associated Press published a scathing editorial by NASCAR reporter Jenna Fryer, who advocates for major changes in the broadcast booth, including Waltrip's retirement.
"The carnival-type yukfest is obsolete, its origin has been increased since the network began using current drivers in its coverage of the Xfinity series." Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and others have shown that simply by talking about the action they have before their eyes they can offer an informative and entertaining program that lacks stories and jokes that are always left behind, "Fryer wrote.
Waltrip responded indirectly by tweeting the lyrics of Frank Sinatra's song "That's Life".
Several of Waltrip's friends and colleagues also came to his defense on social media.
The last Waltrip broadcast will be during the NASCAR Cup event at Sonoma Raceway on June 23.
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