Jan 10, 2014, 11:00 AM EST
The racing element of Steve Letarte leaving Hendrick Motorsports and joining the NBC Sports NASCAR broadcast team for 2015 is how Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be affected. Earnhardt said Friday at Daytona he had an idea of the decision at last year’s season finale in Homestead, and has spent the offseason trying to process it.
But when he was first informed this was a possibility, at the fall race in Charlotte, “Junior” was “in shock.”
“It’s definitely a unique situation,” he said Friday morning during NASCAR Preseason Thunder at Daytona. “He actually included me in on the discussion before the end of last year, and I had a pretty good understanding, whether he knew or not, what he was going to do. I had a pretty good understanding what his decision was going to be when I left Homestead.
“So I’ve had time to really wrap my brain around it. It was hard because we are such good friends, and I really do enjoy working with him a lot.”
Still, Earnhardt acknowledged Letarte’s desire to spend more time with his family is a good one.
“But at the same time I’m happy for him because it gives him the opportunity to spend time with his family,” Earnhardt said. “It’s something that’s really important to him, and the way these races are broadcast and how they’re presented to the fans is a big part of how the sport remains healthy, and I think that he’s going to be incredible in that role. I think that he’ll – I think that he’ll be really good.
“I’m excited for him because I know he’s really looking forward to it,” he added. “You can tell when he talks about it how genuinely enthused he is about the opportunity.”
Earnhardt said he will not be involved in the process of finding Letarte’s replacement. His biggest fear, he said, was finding someone as talented. An early name to consider could be Ron Malec, longtime car chief on the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet driven by Jimmie Johnson, but it’s way too early to have any prognostications of who will be on the No. 88 box in 2015.
“I won’t make any suggestions at all. I will leave that up to Rick (Hendrick), Doug (Douchardt),” Earnhardt said. “I would love to have input from Chad Knaus and Steve. I think that Steve knows what makes this team work.
“I think it’s important that Chad has got a lot of influence because he knows how well the shop works together and what the culture is in the shop and how a guy, a particular guy may mesh in that environment. But I don’t really want to have any influence on the choice.”
Earnhardt acknowledged this will be Letarte’s last go-‘round in the garage area and there’s an extra bonus, and extra incentive, to ensure Letarte can go out on a high. In the last three years, Tony Stewart’s crew chief Darian Grubb, Dodge as a manufacturer, and Kevin Harvick at Richard Childress Racing have delivered titles or near-titles in their final seasons in their current roles.
“Fortunately we get to work together one more year,” Earnhardt said. “I feel almost lucky in that regard that I get the opportunity to work with him for one more season.
“He’s not going to work for another driver or another team, so it’s kind of his last hurrah, and hopefully he never has to come back to that job again and his broadcasting career takes him on into the rest of his life. And I think it will. I think he’s going to be fantastic.”
Mar 7, 2014, 12:00 PM EST
What are going to be the main themes for the new Formula 1 season? Be it noses, double points, Bernie or Kimi, it promises to be an exciting one.
Mar 7, 2014, 11:00 AM EST
F1 tire supplier confirms eight testing days with teams in 2014, thus avoiding the ‘testgate’ scandal of 2013.
Mar 7, 2014, 10:37 AM EST
Two attempts for Indy qualifying required: one to get in, one to set starting order.
Mar 7, 2014, 10:00 AM EST
First target for Hulkenberg is to make it past the first lap at Albert Park, having failed to do so in three attempts.
Mar 7, 2014, 8:30 AM EST
CEO refuses to accept knock-down price for title sponsorship following McLaren’s worst season since 1980.
Mar 7, 2014, 7:00 AM EST
No change in the F1 legend’s condition as he remains in a medically-induced coma.
Mar 6, 2014, 9:45 PM EST
Phoenix winner only driver north of 190mph in Las Vegas test.
Mar 6, 2014, 8:00 PM EST
BHA rookie admits slight surprise in taking the reins of team’s No. 98 entry.
Mar 6, 2014, 6:45 PM EST
Series seeks marketing/promotional growth to match solid on-track product.
Mar 6, 2014, 6:00 PM EST
Townsend Bell, Bill Sweedler to continue in AIM-run Ferrari in TUDOR Championship.
Mar 6, 2014, 5:00 PM EST
Regulations change plus a solid preseason leaves Sir Frank bullish on Williams’ 2014 outlook.
Mar 6, 2014, 4:30 PM EST
NASCAR’s open test takes place this afternoon and into the early evening at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, site of Sunday’s Kobalt 400, the third round of the already-flying 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Mar 6, 2014, 4:00 PM EST
Actor Jonathan Goldsmith to give “the Most Interesting Command in the World.”
Driver, team owner and now actor: Tony Stewart’s first edition of ‘Smoke is The Bandit’ is released (video)
Mar 6, 2014, 3:03 PM EST
After teasing us a few days ago with a brief video of what was to come, the first episode of Smokey Is The Bandit, featuring NASCAR star Tony Stewart, is out.
Mar 6, 2014, 2:19 PM EST
Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria is already having a dream season – and she’s only two races into the 24-race 2014 NHRA schedule.
Mar 6, 2014, 1:38 PM EST
Although this is no laughing matter, one of comedian Larry the Cable Guy’s signature lines — “That ain’t right” – is quite appropriate in this instance. According to MotorAuthority.com, Chrysler officials have recalled 93 Dodge Vipers that were donated to schools and colleges around the U.S. for educational purposes. But the cars aren’t being recalled…
Mar 6, 2014, 12:31 PM EST
NHRA star Antron Brown is watching the career of budding NASCAR star Darrell “Bubba” Wallace quite closely.
Mar 6, 2014, 12:26 PM EST
For the first time in more than 30 years, the name “Bernstein” will not be on the qualifying grid for next week’s NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.
Mar 6, 2014, 11:30 AM EST
Pop quiz: Who has been the most consistent driver in Sprint Cup over nearly the last dozen races, dating back to the latter part of last season?
Mar 6, 2014, 10:35 AM EST
It’s been a question for the ages: which is faster, the Snake or the Mongoo$e? It’s a question that was arguably one of the most-asked during the late 1960s and 1970s when Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “The Mongoo$e” (yes, there was a $ instead of an “s”) McEwen engaged in one of the…
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