Jarrett finishes career with 21st place finish at All-Star Race

Updated: May 18, 2008, 1:59 AM ET
Associated Press

CONCORD, N.C. -- Dale Jarrett's final race included a slow lap around the track in a delivery truck, his father giving the invocation and some tears.

[+] EnlargeDale Jarrett
AP Photo/Rick HavnerDale Jarrett drives a UPS truck around the track before the All-Star Race.

Jarrett never threatened in Saturday's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, finishing 21st in the 24-car field to wrap up his storied career. The 1999 points champion won 32 times, including three Daytona 500 victories.

"It's over. We've done it," Jarrett said. "It's been great and I wouldn't do anything different."

His father Ned, a two-time Cup champion, gave the invocation before the race. Minutes later his son wiped his eyes after the national anthem. Jarrett got emotional again near the end of the race.

"It started with about five [laps] to go," Jarrett said. "I started taking things in and realizing it wouldn't be happening anymore."

While ending his career was tough, Jarrett's father thinks his 51-year-old son is retiring at the right time.

"I would hate to see him hang on for four or five more years or whatever the case might be," the elder Jarrett said. "People have a tendency to remember you for the last thing you did. I want people to remember him as a champion and a winner in racing. If you hang on too long, sometimes people lose track of that."

Jarrett was honored before the race with a video tribute. He drove a brown UPS delivery truck in a slow lap around the track before the race. UPS was Jarrett's longtime sponsor and he did numerous television commercials with the truck.

Jarrett will be ESPN's lead analyst for its Sprint Cup races, again following his father, a longtime TV commentator. Ned Jarrett thinks that will help the withdrawal symptoms that come with leaving the sport.

"He's going out on his own terms, and I think that's good," Ned Jarrett said. "But also it's good to see him going into another career in broadcasting, sort of following in my footsteps. All of that makes me proud."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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