NEW YORK (AP) — 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 NBCUniversal 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 Chairman Mark Lazarus and NBC Sports Executive Producer and President of Production Sam Flood.
“We are excited to welcome Dale Jr. to our team – both on and off the track,” Lazarus said. “As a company, NBCUniversal allows for talent to stretch themselves across not just their field of expertise, but across other areas of their interests in the media world.”
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 42-year-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 honor 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.