Skip to content

NBC and NASCAR made memories in last stint, with new ones to come

Jul 23, 2013, 3:20 PM EDT

DaleJr_Daytona_getty Getty Images

MotorSportsTalk’s two U.S.-based writers, Tony DiZinno and Chris Estrada, take a look back on NBC’s last stint featuring NASCAR Sprint Cup races from 1999 through 2006. In both instances, these were formative years of their racing fandom.

Tony DiZinno:

For 2013, NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network became your official home of open-wheel racing with the acquisition of Formula One to go along with IndyCar coverage.

Now, we can amend that to say, it’s your official home of almost all racing.

In 2015, NASCAR will be back on NBC. The re-acquisition of North America’s number one form of motorsports brings together all three major motorsports championships under one roof. And it has the potential to reignite memories from NBC’s last stint with NASCAR, from 1999 through 2006.

Besides his role on NBC Nightly News, Brian Williams is one of NASCAR’s most dedicated fans. He opened the coverage at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 1999, a race won by a then-unheralded rookie out of Indiana named Tony Stewart.

In 2001, we were treated to one of NASCAR’s most emotional victories, as Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the checkered flag at the Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway – the first Cup race at the track since he lost his father in that year’s Daytona 500.

The 2004 season featured two dramatic moments to open and close the year on NBC. Earnhardt Jr. took his first, and thus far only, Daytona 500 win on February 15, six years to the day after Dale Sr. won his only ‘500. It was also the first high-definition race aired in Cup history.

To finish off the season, Kurt Busch edged Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin to capture the first title in the Chase for the Nextel Cup era. Busch beat Johnson by eight points after a thrilling battle at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, in a race won by Greg Biffle.

All the moments were captured by an announce team that included Allen Bestwick, and later Bill Weber, calling every lap. But it was the late Benny Parsons and Wally Dallenbach Jr. who did it for me. “BP” and Wally’s banter was a nice counter-balance to the lap-by-lap coverage, and their analysis added valuable insights for viewers.

Having started watching racing in the late 1990s, I’d seen “BP” on the old ESPN Wide World of Sports coverage and when he joined the NBC crew when they took over the coverage, I was thrilled. It’s a shame he won’t be around for this newest incarnation, but I’m optimistic we’ll see a number of familiar faces returning to the broadcasts.

Chris Estrada:

For myself, the return of NASCAR to NBC is almost like going back in time to my formative years as a motorsports fan. I’ve learned to follow the series from a proper, objective standpoint in recent years, but when NBC had the rights from 1999-2006, I was still at the point where I had my favorites.

Above all of them was Dale Earnhardt – the Intimidator, the Man in Black, the man that got me hooked on this sport. I was 14 years old when we lost him in the 2001 Daytona 500, and I was crushed. So when the series returned to Daytona that summer, I (along with many others, I’m sure) was pulling so badly for his son.

I will never forget that race and the call from NBC’s Allen Bestwick that brought him home: “It’s going to be Dale Earnhardt Jr.! Using lessons learned from his father to go from sixth to first and score the victory in the Pepsi 400!” And then, the late, great and dearly missed Benny Parsons, chiming in with what we were all thinking: “Yes! Yes!”

That, along with seeing Earnhardt Jr. and then-teammate Michael Waltrip (who finished second that night) embrace afterwards on top of the latter’s car, was cathartic for me and the rest of the sport’s faithful. Junior had delivered one of the sport’s greatest wins, and Waltrip, who had won the aforementioned ‘500’ that February, got to have the celebration he richly deserved.

We all know life goes on through good times and bad times, but we needed to see that affirmed before our eyes. And it was. That wasn’t the only memorable moment we saw during NASCAR’s recent run on NBC, of course (see my colleague’s thoughts above). But it’s probably the one most fans remember fondly.

I’m willing to bet we’ll see a few more of them upon NASCAR’s return to NBC in a year and a half.

Latest Posts
  1. FIA WEC: Solid first outing for Mark Webber and Porsche

    Apr 20, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT

    FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Silverstone Getty Images

    Former Red Bull F1 driver finishes third, while Porsche’s GTE-Pro squads finish 1-2 in class.

  2. New incentive for NASCAR Sprint Cup teams to win races: free breakfast!

    Apr 20, 2014, 5:10 PM EDT

    boxcar grille

    Trophies and big paychecks are no longer the only things a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver and team get when they win a race. Now they get a big breakfast, too. According to Statesville.com, the Boxcar Grille in Statesville, N.C., has begun serving breakfast to winning teams in the Charlotte area after they return from capturing a Cup race.

  3. FIA WEC: Title defense starts poorly for Audi

    Apr 20, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT

    FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Silverstone Getty Images

    Both of their Le Mans Prototypes fail to see the checkered flag at Silverstone due to accidents.

  4. NASCAR’s Chad Knaus, NFL coach Ron Rivera swap strategies, philosophies

    Apr 20, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

    (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken) AP

    While he probably can’t throw a football more than 20 or 30 yards, Chad Knaus is a diehard Carolina Panthers fan. And while football and stock car racing are polar opposites, they do have some similarities, particularly when it comes to team building, success, strategy and preparation for each game or race. Knaus, a six-time Sprint Cup champion crew chief for Jimmie Johnson, recently called Panthers’ head coach Ron Rivera to throw around and share ideas that might be beneficial to both men.

  5. Hermie Sadler to promote new wrestling group in Denny Hamlin’s Short Track Showdown

    Apr 20, 2014, 2:49 PM EDT

    Hermie Sadler is seen in an advertisement promoting his involvement in Denny Hamlin's Short Track Showdown on Thursday at South Boston (Va.) Speedway, as well as being named to the board of directors of the new Global Force Wrestling association. (Illustration courtesy of Global Force Wrestling) Hermie Sadler is seen in an advertisement promoting his involvement in Denny Hamlin's Short Track Showdown on Thursday at South Boston (Va.) Speedway, as well as being named to the board of directors of the new Global Force Wrestling association. (Illustration courtesy of Global Force Wrestling)

    Hermie Sadler will never be confused with former wrestling greats Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin – not even Rik “Wooooo” Flair. But the NASCAR analyst for Fox Sports 1 has been a longtime fan of wrestling and will now become somewhat of a decision maker, too.

  6. Toyota scores 1-2 finish in WEC season opener at Silverstone

    Apr 20, 2014, 1:58 PM EDT

    FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Silverstone Getty Images

    Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, and Nicolas Lapierre take the No. 8 Toyota to the win in the Six Hours of Silverstone.

  7. Call him Professor Junior: Dale Earnhardt Jr. going back to school

    Apr 20, 2014, 1:07 PM EDT

    Dale Earnhardt Jr. plays teacher and Kyle Busch the dutiful student prior to last Saturday's race at Darlington Raceway.  (Photo: Jeff Curry/Getty Images) Getty Images

    More than 20 years after graduating, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is going back to school. Well, for at least one day. Earnhardt will take part in a two-hour session on May 8 with two student groups, wrapped around an all-school assembly at Seaman High School in Topeka, Kansas, according to a report in the Topeka Capital-Journal.

  8. Happy Easter from MotorSportsTalk!

    Apr 20, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    Credit: Remains Credit: Remains

    We hope your Easter’s filled with family, friends…and maybe some jelly beans.

  9. Difficult weekend for Raikkonen worth just four points

    Apr 20, 2014, 9:45 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China Getty Images

    Finn can only come home in eighth for Ferrari, some 50 seconds behind teammate Fernando Alonso.

  10. Hulkenberg and Bottas quietly brilliant in China

    Apr 20, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Practice Getty Images

    Largely unnoticed, these two youngsters were brilliant today in China.

  11. VIDEO: Vettel explains decision to not let Ricciardo past

    Apr 20, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China Getty Images

    German driver saw no reason to follow team orders, but soon realised that there was no point in holding Ricciardo up.

  12. Rosberg perseveres after telemetry failure to finish second

    Apr 20, 2014, 7:15 AM EDT

    Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg AP

    German driver downbeat after losing to Hamilton yet again, but in the grand scheme of things, it was a great result.

  13. Chinese GP called two laps early after checkered flag mix-up

    Apr 20, 2014, 6:30 AM EDT

    Lewis Hamilton AP

    Embarrassing error sees race end on lap 54, not lap 56; Kobayashi the only driver to lose a position.

  14. Alonso scores Ferrari’s first podium finish of 2014

    Apr 20, 2014, 6:15 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China Getty Images

    Ferrari ends torrid week with something to smile about as Alonso finishes third in China.

  15. VIDEO: Vettel ignores team orders, telling team “tough luck”

    Apr 20, 2014, 5:47 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China Getty Images

    German driver refuses to let Daniel Ricciardo past at first, but ultimately thinks better of it.

  16. Hamilton astonished by Mercedes pace after China win

    Apr 20, 2014, 5:30 AM EDT

    Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain drives during the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit Reuters

    British driver delighted with team effort, and pleased to see teammate Nico Rosberg reach the podium again.

  17. Hamilton makes it three with lights to flag victory in China

    Apr 20, 2014, 4:43 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China Getty Images

    British driver goes wire-to-wire to claim his third straight win and number 25 of his F1 career.

  18. WATCH LIVE: Can anyone spring a Shanghai surprise?

    Apr 20, 2014, 2:15 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Qualifying Getty Images

    As the Mercedes turf war rumbles on, Red Bull and Ferrari will be waiting in the wings to pick up the pieces.

  19. Starting grid for the 2014 Chinese Grand Prix

    Apr 20, 2014, 2:00 AM EDT

    Daniel Ricciardo, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel AP

    Here’s how the drivers will line up for the 2014 Chinese Grand Prix today, live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 2:30am ET.

  20. Hamilton chases first ever career three-peat in China

    Apr 20, 2014, 1:30 AM EDT

    Lewis Hamilton AP

    He has come close before, but Hamilton finally can make it three wins in a row today in China.

Today on NASCAR AMERICA

Featured video

Lewis Hamilton thanks his 'angels'
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. McMurray (4773)
  2. A. Seuss (1910)
  3. B. Myers (1476)
  4. J. Myers (1364)
  5. L. Fleming (1352)
  1. J. Boston (1163)
  2. T. Hessert (1138)
  3. C. Edwards (1063)
  4. P. Kligerman (1050)
  5. B. Loftin (1036)

More from NASCAR America

The new faces of NASCAR