Dale Earnhardt Jr. said it seemed too good to be true when an NBC Sports executive gave him instructions on how to act in his new role as a NASCAR broadcaster.
“The best part about it is Sam Flood says just be yourself,” Earnhardt told reporters Thursday, recalling a talk with the NBC Sports group executive producer. “I keep asking him if that’s really what he wants because that sounds a little bit too good to be true, and a little bit too easy. But, that’s what they expect out of you.
Earnhardt debuts as a NASCAR broadcaster this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, following his retirement from full-time competition after last season. He brings a vast wealth of racing knowledge to the NBC Sports booth. NBC also gets one of the most popular figures in the sport’s history, which could help boost TV ratings that have declined in recent seasons.
Heading into his debut weekend, though, Junior is just excited to have a fun role in the sport he loves.
“That should be very fun to just get up there and watch races and react,” Earnhardt said. “All the guys in the booth are such huge fans of what we’re seeing, it’s going to be a lot of fun just doing that. Sitting around talking about what’s happening on the race track. I’m excited to learn a lot and get to know my teammates even better.”
Earnhardt posted a photo of himself and NBC broadcast colleagues Rick Allen, Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte on Instagram, with the tag, “Well … Here goes nothing!”
Well…here goes nothing! @chicagolndspdwy @nascaronnbc #teammates
Earnhardt has worked with Allen, Burton and Letarte in a mock broadcast, and they’ve done other prep work together, but he admits there will be nervous moments.
“I was really nervous about going into it cold turkey without a whole lot of experience, so it gave me a lot of peace of mind and it allowed me to build a little bit of rapport with Jeff and Rick because we’re going to need that kind of chemistry,” Earnhardt said. “It was really helpful for me.
“I still got the job, so obviously NBC is pretty happy with what they heard in our practice runs. I got a lot of great feedback and was able to adjust on the fly. It was cool.”
Race time is 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN.