Dale Jarrett, 51, will retire

16 02 2008

Dale Jarrett, 51, will retire as a NASCAR driver.

It’s another melancholy moment, another of the Baby Boomer brigade of drivers who helped detonate NASCAR’s big boom going AARP on us. Mark Martin and Bill Elliott, semi-retired. Terry Labonte and Ricky Rudd, in their rocking chairs.

When Jarrett hangs ’em up, Kyle Petty, 47, will be the oldest full-timer, truly the last link to the romantic and rough days of NASCAR.

“As I was driving up to the tunnel I realized this is my last time coming here as a competitor,” said Jarrett, a three-time Daytona 500 winner. “Now, I start looking at things a little bit differently. But I’m ready for that to happen.”

He almost didn’t even make this race. He needed a strong run Thursday in the Gatorade Duels to earn a spot.

“My dad’s here somewhere, yeah,” Jarrett said afterward. “My mom wasn’t sure I was going to make the race, so she said she’d wait and come down if I did.”

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