Michael Waltrip to retire from NASCAR after Daytona 500

By Alex Butler  |  Updated Jan. 26, 2017 at 9:29 PM
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Jan. 26 (UPI) -- He hasn't raced full time since 2009, but Michael Waltrip will step out of NASCAR for good on February 26.

Waltrip will call it quits after racing the No. 15 Premium Motorsports Toyota in the Daytona 500, if he qualifies for the 40-car field.

It will be his 30th career start in the Great American Race. Waltrip won the event in 2001 and 2003. His latest victory came in October 2003 at the Talladega Motor Speedway.

"I can reflect on my career with a lot of emotions and one company that has been there for me is Aaron's," Waltrip said in a statement. "I started working with Aaron's almost 20 years ago with some commercials and six Xfinity Series races when I had a team behind my house. We have been together ever since and it makes my heart smile thinking about all the great things we did together."

Waltrip, 53, has been working as a NASCAR analyst for FOX Sports since 2012. He has entered no more than four races each year in the last seven seasons.

"The Daytona 500 in a lot of ways defines a racer's career and I am proud to have been able to win our sport's most prestigious race twice," Waltrip said. "I have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows at the Great American Race. But when you are a NASCAR driver who has the privilege of racing here, you love Daytona no matter what happens. In my 30th and final Daytona 500, I am just going to enjoy every moment and be happy that Aaron's has given me one more opportunity to hoist the Harley J. Earle trophy."

Waltrip will continue to serve as a spokesman for Aaron's after his last race. His Cup debut came in 1985.

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