Jan 10, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
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.”
Apr 25, 2015, 11:17 AM EDT
Scott Dixon takes the Coca-Cola car to the top of the first practice session at Barber.
Apr 25, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT
Former F1 world champion and Indy 500 winner hits out at Alonso’s move to McLaren and Manor’s inclusion on the grid.
Apr 25, 2015, 10:12 AM EDT
Qualifying for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ race at Barber has been moved up to 5 p.m. ET, and 4 p.m. CT and local time on NBCSN.
Apr 25, 2015, 9:18 AM EDT
Conor Daly has been confirmed in the Indianapolis 500 in SPM’s third car.
Apr 24, 2015, 9:11 PM EDT
Honda takes the wraps off the new Accord safety car.
Apr 24, 2015, 9:02 PM EDT
Pigot scores his first Indy Lights pole at Barber.
Apr 24, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT
Formula E’s championship leader looks ahead to his adopted home race in Monaco on May 9.
Apr 24, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
2014 GP2 champion reflects on the opening four races of the year with Lotus.
WSR: Comtec pulls out of first Formula Renault 3.5 round, parts company with Regalia after three days
Apr 24, 2015, 3:30 PM EDT
Grid falls to 20 cars for the Formula Renault 3.5 opener in Spain this weekend.
Apr 24, 2015, 2:00 PM EDT
The Indian Grand Prix was last held in 2013 at the Buddh International Circuit.
Apr 24, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT
Audi and Porsche will field three cars for the next two races of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Apr 24, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT
Red Bull has made a slow start to the 2015 season due to a variety of problems with the RB11 car.
Apr 24, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT
Venezuelan driver currently bottom of the table after just one finish in four races.
Apr 24, 2015, 9:05 AM EDT
To reference the Smashing Pumpkins, Barber is the beginning of the end of the beginning for IndyCar 2015.
Apr 23, 2015, 7:50 PM EDT
Andretti Autosport’s Mazda Road to Indy program goes to Barber Motorsports Park with one less Indy Lights entry.
Apr 23, 2015, 6:38 PM EDT
Graham Rahal aims to continue consistent success of one-car team at Barber Motorsports Park.
Ryan Hunter-Reay looks to right 2015 season by completing winning trilogy at Barber Motorsports Park
Apr 23, 2015, 5:05 PM EDT
Ryan Hunter-Reay looks to turn season around at track he’s won last two races at.
Apr 23, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
For a series that is in its inaugural year, Formula E is having little trouble in getting fans through the gate as it prepares to hit European shores for the first time.
Apr 23, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT
Luke Smith takes a look at the humble beginnings of what has turned into F1’s most prolific supplier of drivers, and takes a look at where the 2005 grid is now.
- WATCH: IndyCar qualifying from Barber at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Live Extra 0
- Preview: Barber marks end of IndyCar’s first quarter of 2015 (VIDEO) 0
- Ryan Hunter-Reay looks to right 2015 season by completing winning trilogy at Barber Motorsports Park 0
- As GP2 turns 10 years old, where is the Class of ’05 now? 0
- Here’s your IndyCar times for this weekend’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama 0
- F1: Year-on-year, Ferrari’s gains, Mercedes’ continued edge reins after four races 0
- Racing community reflects on the loss of Fox Sports’ broadcaster Steve Byrnes 8