Jeff Gordon to join Fox as full-time analyst in 2016

FILE - In this Nov. 14, 2014, file photo, Jeff Gordon celebrates after qualifying laps for the EcoBoost 400 auto race in Homestead, Fla. Gordon says he will retire as a full-time driver after the 2015 season. (AP Photo/Darryl Graham, File)
(AP Photo/Darryl Graham, File)

Jeff Gordon will join Fox as a full-time analyst in 2016, teaming with Mike Joy and Darrell Waltrip in the three-man booth.

Gordon is retiring at the end of this season and signed a multi-year contract with Fox. The four-time NASCAR champion is in 23rd full-time year in the Sprint Cup Series.

“NASCAR has provided me so many incredible memories, experiences and opportunities throughout my 23 years as a driver, and I can’t wait to start a new chapter in racing with this new relationship with Fox,” Gordon said Thursday. “I feel so lucky to be a part of a sport that I’m very passionate about, and now I get the opportunity to share that passion to millions of race fans from a whole new perspective.”

Gordon has already been an analyst in the Fox booth for three Xfinity Series races this season. He will begin his new job later this year by giving in-race reports during select races.

Gordon qualified 18th for Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He said he wanted to stay involved in NASCAR and the view from the booth is a good way to do that.

“Kind of like the best of both worlds,” Gordon said. “I can step away as a driver and still be a part of it.”

Gordon’s first race in the booth will be next February from Daytona International Speedway. He will replace Larry McReynolds, who will move to an in-race analyst role alongside Michael Waltrip and host Chris Myers.

Eric Shanks, president of Fox Sports, believes adding Gordon to the booth gives viewers a perspective they haven’t seen in some time. He noted how Gordon won the pole for the Cup race at Talladega earlier this month, then immediately went to the booth to comment on the Xfinity Series race.

“The things that you see and are able to tell the fans and observe for the fans, when you are that close, and that relevant, from getting out of the car, is really unique,” Shanks said. “It’s great to be able to get somebody who will be able to tell you exactly what it’s like to try to pass Kevin Harvick or hold off Kevin Harvick.”

Gordon’s reach expands far beyond racing. He’s largely credited with bringing NASCAR to a mainstream audience, and he’s the only driver to ever host “Saturday Night Live.” He’s been a co-host on “Live! With Regis and Kelly” more than 10 times, and has appeared as himself on “The Simpsons,” ”Spin City” and “The Drew Carey Show.”

Gordon said he’s grown more comfortable after each race he’s called and is ready to do the work necessary to make a good broadcaster.

“There was an adrenaline being in the booth,” Gordon said. “It’s exciting.”

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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