BY GEORGE DIAZ
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is quitting his day job as a racing man to be a talking head from NBC.
In reality, it’s the sum of all parts.
“We want Dale to be Dale,” said NBC Sports Executive Producer and President of Production Sam Flood. “We didn’t hire him to be an announcer. We hired him to be himself.”
And so he will, as the guy voted by fans as NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver for an unprecedented 14 consecutive years makes the switch to the booth in 2018.
He will be an analyst for all the Monster Energy Cup races on NBC’s schedule, which begins with the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
“This is probably the first real job I’ve had in 20 years,” Earnhardt said during a conference call shortly after NBC made the announcement on Monday.
“I’m really excited to be able to announce this news. A lot of folks have been asking what the next step was for me. It’s a thrill to be able to partner with NBC.”
Earnhardt, 42, announced his retirement from full-time Cup racing last April, officially entering a nebulous retirement phase of his life, and accelerated by concussion issues that have come into play in recent years that factored heavily into the decision.
He missed half of the 2016 season because of those concussion-related health issues, but was hooked on a career path away from the car when he did a couple of guest stints in the booth for FOX and NBC, both NASCAR broadcast partners.
‘An added bonus’
He described it as an “adrenaline rush” on Monday.
“I remember the feeling when I went in the booth and the feeling that I had afterwards. I had no idea how enjoyable that was,” Earnhardt said.
“I knew immediately then when I was going through my injury that I definitely wanted to pursue this as an opportunity if there was interest.”
Added Flood, “Dale Jr. brings credibility, personality, and popularity to our already winning NASCAR team. Giving him a chance to spread further within other NBC Sports Group properties and throughout the company is an added bonus.”