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NSCS: NBC Making Noise in the NASCAR World With Two Announcements in Two Days
By Joseph Wolkin-NASCAR Columnist and Editor (@JosephNASCAR)
December 4, 2013
WHITESTONE, N.Y.– The NASCAR television booth will look a lot different when the series makes the swap over to NBC starting in 2015. Jeff Burton is switching his drivers suit over to an actual suit (and adding a tie to it) as he’ll be an analyst for NASCAR on NBC.
Burton will have two opportunities starting in 2014 as NBC ramps up its NASCAR coverage as they prepare to take on half of the schedule for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series schedules beginning in 2015. Besides that, Burton will also be driving a part-time schedule with Michael Waltrip Racing in the No. 66 Toyota Camry.
On Wednesday afternoon, it was announced that Rick Allen will be joining Burton in the broadcast booth beginning in 2015. Allen has been the lead voice of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series broadcasts for several years, and is also the host of the NASCAR Nationwide Series/Camping World Truck Series banquet along with co-host, Krista Voda.
The announcement comes just a day after NBC announced that Burton will be their lead analyst. However, this also brings up the question of what will happen to the current ESPN and TNT broadcasters.
Though NBC has not announced their pit road reporters as of yet, they will likely be adding personalities such as Jerry Punch, Dave Burns, Mike Massaro, Shannon Spake, Marty Smith, Matt Yocum, Marty Snider or Adam Alexander. All of these broadcasters are possible candidates for several positions within the company.
Also, Fox Sports will be keeping their Camping World Truck Series full-season of broadcasting, which could provide jobs for some of the above names, even if they have to rework their way back up to the Sprint Cup Series. Ray Dunlap will probably take over as the lead Camping World Truck Series announcer for Fox Sports 1 with Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip in the booth.
— Darrell Waltrip (@AllWaltrip) December 4, 2013
The opportunities presented are extremely limited now that NASCAR will be stationed on just two television channels. A lot of former drivers will also be searching for places to go. Dale Jarrett (ESPN), Rusty Wallace (ESPN), Ricky Craven (ESPN), Wally Dallenbach Jr. (IndyCar Series analyst with NBC) and Kyle Petty (TNT for race broadcasts, but usually on Fox Sports 1′s NASCAR Raceday) are going to be job hunting. Though some are more likable than others, there are not too many openings left.
Besides that, there are several drivers which are nearing retirement or have retired that will likely be attempting to become broadcasters such as Ken Schrader and Mark Martin. If NBC could add one of these former drivers, they will be able to regain the credibility they had when Benny Parsons and Bill Weber as their lead announcers.
Now that NBC has hired these two individuals as their lead announcers, they are looking for a former crew chief to be their third man in the booth. Fans have high expectations for what is to come from NBC’s NASCAR broadcasts. After much criticism towards ESPN and TNT over the past several years, a change of pace may just be what NASCAR needed to regain the momentum it once had back in the mid-2000′s.