Earn­hardt Jr. joins NBC

The Standard Journal - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Jenna Fryer As­so­ci­ated Press Auto Rac­ing Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nearly ev­ery day brings a new ex­pe­ri­ence for Dale Earn­hardt Jr., who spent the first 43 years of his life liv­ing in a bub­ble that con­sisted of NASCAR and not much else.

Now that he has re­tired from full-time rac­ing, he’s got time to ex­pe­ri­ence new ad­ven­tures. Just last week­end, he went to brunch — his first brunch ever — with his wife and friends, then was con­vinced to get his first pedi­cure. The best is yet to come. NBC Sports an­nounced Tues­day it will use Earn­hardt in its pregame show be­fore the Su­per Bowl, then send him to South Korea for the net­work’s cov­er­age of next month’s Olympics. Earn­hardt re­tired from driv­ing in Novem­ber and signed on to be an an­a­lyst for NBC Sports, a gig that be­gins in July.

“It’s not go­ing to be putting me any­where out­side of my com­fort zone, ob­vi­ously I’ve never been to a Su­per Bowl or South Korea,” Earn­hardt told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “What they are ask­ing me to do is just go out there and be my­self and hope­fully get peo­ple in­ter­ested in tun­ing into NASCAR.”

NBC plans to use Earn­hardt at the Su­per Bowl in out­door events and ac­tiv­i­ties tak­ing place in Min­neapo­lis in the days be­fore the game. At the Olympics, he’ll visit the speed skat­ing venue and ac­cept a re­cent so­cial me­dia in­vite from Amer­i­can bob­sled team pi­lot Nick Cun­ning­ham to ride in a bob­sled.

“We can’t wait to get Dale’s take on what is one of the most com­pelling as­pects of the Win­ter Games — sports that of­fer a mix of speed with the prospect of dan­ger, an equa­tion that he knows very well,” said Jim Bell, pres­i­dent of NBC Olympics Pro­duc­tion and Pro­gram­ming.

“In­stead of the turns at Day­tona, it’s the down­hill, the luge, and the short track oval. And I think he will have some­thing unique to of­fer about the need for speed on snow and ice.”

Earn­hardt, a third-gen­er­a­tion NASCAR driver, is the son of Hall of Famer Dale Earn­hardt Sr. He grew up around rac­ing and its gru­el­ing 11-month sched­ule that has driv­ers on the road and away from home at least three days a week. Although the Su­per Bowl is typ­i­cally held be­fore NASCAR’s sea­son-open­ing Day­tona 500, ra­bid Wash­ing­ton Red­skins fan Earn­hardt said he never had a de­sire to go to the game.

“Not ev­ery­body goes to the Su­per Bowl,” he said. “I was too young when the Red­skins were go­ing, I was still in school, and they haven’t been since 1991. I def­i­nitely would have gone if they had played in one. But as a fan of a par­tic­u­lar team, it sort of feels wrong to go to an­other game. I’d have a hard time even go­ing to see the Red­skins play in an op­po­nent’s sta­dium. If I had no pur­pose to be at the Su­per Bowl, be­sides to just see a game, it was hard to make that kind of time com­mit­ment.”

And the Olympics? Well, that’s a dream trip that Earn­hardt never had the time to even dream of mak­ing. Asked where he’s been out­side the United States, he listed Ger­many and France — trips he took with his now-wife — as well as Mex­ico, Canada, Ja­pan and Aus­tralia. He also once spent 24 hours in Monaco.

File, Jeff Siner / AP

Dale Earn­hardt Jr. (left) will be join­ing NBC for Su­per Bowl and Olympics broad­cast cov­er­age.

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