DJ Waves Goodbye

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After 667 starts, a championship and more than $60 million in race winnings, one of NASCAR's gratest drivers will step aside.

Dale Jarrett brings down the curtain on a stellar 24-year NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career on Sunday when he makes his final regular season points race start in the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Once Jarrett climbs from his UPS Toyota after Sunday's race in "Thunder Valley," he'll follow his famous father Ned's footsteps to a full-time spot in the ESPN broadcast booth.

And Jarrett is fine with the decision to wave the checkered flag on his driving career.

"I'm sure there is going to be times when I say I wish I was back on the track," Jarrett said. "I know I can still do that. That's not a problem. Again, I'm pretty happy with this. I'm sure there will be days when I say, 'Wow, I wish I was out there on the racetrack,' especially after a bad day on the golf course. There's not going to be much of that, I don't think."

The decision to finally step out of the race car came to Jarrett nearly a year ago and it's a call he knew was the right one to make.

"It was a couple sleepless nights, actually waking up in the middle of the night," Jarrett said. "It was close to Bristol last year I woke up in the middle of the night, and it just seemed like it was the right thing to do. I had been thinking about it.

"That's how I kind of lived my career. It's been from one thing to another, and there was signs there that hey, 'This is direction you need to go.'"

Jarrett has three Daytona 500 wins to his credit as well as that 1999 title, which came behind-the-wheel of a Robert Yates Racing machine.

He feels his accomplished about everything he possibly can in the sport he grew up in and although his workload as a broadcaster will keep him busy, is looking forward to other parts of his life.

"I'm going to have some more weeks at home, which will allow me to do things of my choice," he said. "I won't lay on the couch. I can't do that. If it's a rainy day, then you can find things to do indoors. I'm not a person to sit around, never have been. I've always been active. I hope to continue that."

Even though he's confortable with his decision, Jarrett knows it will still be a difficult moment when the time comes to actually hang up his helmet. Keeping his emotions in check will most likely be a challenge.

"It's going to happen," Jarrett said. "As much as you'd like to sit there and say it's not the most manly thing to do, but I'm not worried about that. It is about emotion and passion.

"That's what we saw in Brett Favre. I just admire that. Glad to call him a friend. [Tears are] going to happen. I hope everybody understands why. I do care about this sport."

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