Earn­hardt Jr. parks at NBC

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

NEW YORK — Dale Earn­hardt Jr. will join NBC Sports Group’s cov­er­age of stock car rac­ing next year — and there may be more op­tions for NASCAR’s most pop­u­lar driver once he re­tires.

The agree­ment with NBC-Uni­ver­sal will al­low Earn­hardt to pur­sue “a wide range of op­por­tu­ni­ties in the com­pany’s me­dia busi­nesses, in­clud­ing movies, tele­vi­sion, pod­casts, and other ar­eas.” The agree­ment was an­nounced Mon­day by NBC Sports chair Mark Lazarus.

Earn­hardt an­nounced in April he would re­tire af­ter this sea­son, in part be­cause of his injury his­tory. Two big crashes last sum­mer forced him out of the fi­nal 18 races, and he missed two races dur­ing the 2012 play­offs also be­cause of con­cus­sion-re­lated symp­toms. The 42year-old Earn­hardt in­tends to com­pete in two Xfinity Se­ries races next sea­son and plans to be in­volved in the sport in other ways — when his broad­cast­ing du­ties al­low it.

The NASCAR races next year will air on ei­ther NBC Sports or Fox chan­nels. This year, NBC Sports Group will air the fi­nal 20 Cup Se­ries races and the fi­nal 19 Xfinity events.

“It is a tremen­dous hon­our not only to join NBC Sports next year but to be­gin a new ca­reer along­side peo­ple who love NASCAR as much as I do,” Earn­hardt said. “To be re­united with Steve Le­tarte, to be able to call leg­ends like Jeff Bur­ton, Dale Jar­rett and Kyle Petty team­mates rather than just friends, to be able to con­tinue go­ing to the track and con­nect­ing with race fans, it’s a priv­i­lege I don’t take lightly. I will de­vote my heart and soul to this broad­cast team and pledge my very best to the mil­lions who watch it.”

Earn­hardt has 26 ca­reer vic­to­ries, in­clud­ing the 2004 and 2014 Day­tona 500, putting him 29th on NASCAR’s all-time race win­ners list. His fa­ther, Dale Earn­hardt, won seven Cup ti­tles and 76 Cup races in his sto­ried ca­reer.

NBC said it was also part­ner­ing with Earn­hardt on some of his other busi­nesses, in­clud­ing Dirty Mo Me­dia and Ham­mer­head En­ter­tain­ment.

DARRON CUM­MINGS, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Dale Earn­hardt Jr. has signed on with NBC Sports that opens a lot of doors for the soon-to-be re­tired NASCAR driver.

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