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Dale Earnhardt Jr. headed to NBC broadcast booth

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Dale Earnhardt Jr. will have a new way to voice his racing opinions next season: on television.

NASCAR’s most popular driver will join NBC Sports Group’s coverage of stock car racing next year, and there might be more options once he climbs out of the car for good.

The agreement with NBCUniversal announced Monday will allow Earnhardt to pursue “a wide range of opportunities in the company’s media businesses, including movies, television, podcasts, and other areas” including football and perhaps even the Olympics.

“I’ve always just drove race cars. So this is probably the first real job I’ve had in 20 years,” Earnhardt said on a conference call. “This is an incredible opportunity for me to start an entirely new career.”

He seems like a natural, too.

Earnhardt has been voted the series’ most popular driver 14 consecutive times and provides some of the most thoughtful analysis in the series. Add those traits to his down-to-earth approach and his desire to succeed, and it could be a perfect match. NBC Sports executive producer and president of production Sam Flood said Earnhardt already has contemplated following Chris Collinsworth around for a “Sunday Night Football” game or watching an Xfinity Series race in the television truck just to see how things work.

“His love of the sport and his passion for the history of the sport makes him look at it in a different way,” Flood said. “It’s fun to hear how curious he is about TV.”

Earnhardt got a brief taste of broadcasting last year, working with Flood while he dealt with concussion-related symptoms.

But discussions with NBC didn’t begin until after 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 races next season and plans to be involved in the sport in other ways.

Earnhardt said negotiations began after he decided to leave racing and continued for several months before the two sides agreed to the deal in the past few days.

“I’m excited to be able to finally announce this news,” Earnhardt said. “I’m going to follow Sam’s lead and as prepared be as I can and let him give me the tools to make progress.”


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Getty Images
Dale Earnhardt Jr. stands on the grid during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 on July 22, 2017 in Indianapolis.
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Dale Earnhardt Jr. answers questions during a NASCAR cup auto racing news conference at Daytona International Speedway, Friday, June 30, 2017, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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