• Loading stock data...
Friday, June 14, 2024

Views From the Pit Box: NBC Sports Gives NASCAR Fans a New Perspective

Steve Letarte, former crew chief of Dale Earnhardt Jr., will call races from the Peacock Pit Box on pit road, enhancing NBC and NBCSN’s NASCAR coverage for the 2018 season. The pit box officially debuted during the race weekend at Daytona International Speedway, July 6-7. Image from Jon Schwartz (NASCAR).

NBC Sports’ Peacock Pit Box is complete with its own pit board sign just like ones used by the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams each weekend. Image from Jon Schwartz (NASCAR).

With former driver and two-time Daytona 500 champion Dale Earnhardt Jr. as the newest addition to its broadcast team, and his former crew chief Steve Letarte calling races from the Peacock Pit Box starting with the Daytona broadcasts last weekend, NBC Sports has amped up its NASCAR coverage to allow viewers even more unique views and access to information during its broadcasts.

For four seasons, Earnhardt Jr. and Letarte teamed up on the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, and once again the two are linked together, but this time they’ve traded in their fire suits for jackets and ties in the broadcasting industry. Earnhardt Jr. joined the NASCAR on NBC team after retiring in 2017, while Letarte is in his fourth season.

“It’s been nice,” said Earnhardt Jr. “I’ve got nothing negative to say about it. Even if I try to think of something on the negative side, everything has been positive. I’d be watching the races anyway and want to be at the track, so NBC is sending me to all the tracks, and they’re going to pay me to talk about it. It’s a dream come true. I’m going to try hard to do a great job. I’m asking a lot of questions and trying to deliver and play my role in the booth.”

[the_ad_group id=”948″]

In NBC’s traditional broadcast booth above the start-finish line, Earnhardt Jr. is joined by lead NASCAR on NBC announcer Rick Allen, and “The Mayor” of NASCAR, Jeff Burton.

Despite a positive reaction, he knows there is a learning curve.

“The produced segment is the most nerve-wracking part,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “Rehearsals help knock off the nerves, but I think the hardest things for me to do are those structured, produced segments. Anytime you’re not on camera watching the action on the track, it’s easy to react to that. When you’re on camera either at the start of the show and at the close it’s the toughest part because you’re having to sum up your opinion of how the race is going to start, what to look for or your reaction of the race afterwards.”

While Earnhardt Jr. admits he’s having fun and always trying to learn, his former crew chief couldn’t hide his excitement about working with the 15-time Most Popular Driver again.  

“I knew it was going to be a lot of fun working with Dale Jr. again,” Letarte said. “It really is no different than sitting down with a beer and watching racing. In my opinion, a great broadcast should be one where you feel like you’re just hanging out with your buddies and having a good time. That’s what we’re trying to do with Dale Jr.

“Hearing Dale describe what the drivers are trying to do helps bring things to a new level. He’s a guy who was the most popular driver and a successful driver, but he’s also a huge historian of the sport. He understands all the different decades of the sport — ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s — that helps him because he can relate to all the fans and viewers.”

Steve Letarte, former crew chief of Dale Earnhardt Jr., will call races from the Peacock Pit Box on pit road, enhancing NBC and NBCSN’s NASCAR coverage for the 2018 season. The pit box officially debuted during the race weekend at Daytona International Speedway, July 6-7. Image from Jon Schwartz (NASCAR).

This season, Letarte has spent time on the Peacock Pit Box, which was officially unveiled earlier in the year. The new, state-of-the-art pit box is a remote studio situated along pit road, bringing viewers even closer to the heart-pounding on-track action during the 2018 season.

“In the broadcast booth, while it’s a great view, you’re somewhat removed from the action, often times six, seven, eight stories up, and you lose some of the intensity that the fans can experience themselves,” Letarte said. “What the pit box does is put me back where I lived (as a crew chief) on pit road for many years. Taking the fan to the action is the key. There is nothing like being in the action and that’s what the Peacock Pit Box does. We hope the sound, the feel, the noise, the things that make TV difficult but being a fan awesome really play into the pit box.”

The Peacock Pit Box is located in an empty pit box along pit road but is often times sandwiched between a pit box used by a team during a race, allowing Letarte to tell viewers even more about the different scenes and emotions that arise during a race.

Want more content like this? Subscribe to our daily newsletter!

“I covered qualifying at Chicagoland from the Peacock Pit Box and being able to see the emotion on team members’ faces adds another layer of coverage,” Letarte said. “Having Dale Jr. join (the team) allowed me to take a different location. With all the talent we have, we have the opportunity to cover every race differently.”

With Letarte on the Peacock Pit Box and Dale Jr. in the booth, NBC Sports has certainly enhanced its coverage, but in the end, it’s all about telling NASCAR fans the most pressing stories.

“Those 40 drivers that strap the helmets on, they are the ones that tell the stories,” Letarte said. “Our job as broadcasters is simply to bring this awesome sport home to the NASCAR fan base.”

Copy Link
Link Copied
Link Copied

What to Read

Paramount-Skydance Merger Off: Could Deal With WBD Be Revived?

Shari Redstone abruptly calls off potential merger discussions between the CBS Sports parent and Skydance Media.
Jan 3, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; General view of the NFL shield logo signage before the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field.

Odds Stacked Against NFL in Multibillion-Dollar Sunday Ticket Trial

Why the class action trial does not look promising for the league.

After Long-Term French Open Deal, What’s Next for TNT Sports?

A 10-year rights deal for the French Open immediately becomes the longest in Warner Bros. Discovery’s portfolio.
podcast thumbnail mobile
Front Office Sports Today

How the US Open is Designed for Drama


Featured Today

Jan 7, 2024; San Francisco, California, USA; Toronto Raptors forward Jontay Porter (11) takes a three-point shot against the Golden State Warriors during the second half at Chase Center.

‘Bound to Happen’: The Age of the Sports Betting Scandal Has Arrived

A banishment, betting scheme, and guilty plea all in one scandal-filled span.
June 8, 2024

‘Experimental in Nature’: The Rapid, Confounding Rise of Streaming Bundles

Here’s why confusion continues to outweigh solutions in the streaming package boom.
June 2, 2024

The Nostalgia Market: Michael Jordan’s Memorabilia Remains Coveted, With Caveats

Due to scarcity, and sometimes, items’ undisclosed whereabouts, this world has limitations.
June 1, 2024

The Pac-12 Wants Everybody to Know That It Isn’t Dead Yet

With a broadcast studio and two schools, the league plans to rebuild.

Sage Steele Claims in Suit That Her Agents Prioritized Relationship With ESPN Over Her

She says CAA chose its relationship over ESPN over advocating for her.
June 11, 2024

ESPN Extension Could Set Up Shannon Sharpe As Stephen A. Smith’s Successor

Sharpe is writing one of the great career comebacks in sports TV history.
June 11, 2024

USA Cricket Is on the Cusp of a Historic Win. But Who Can Watch?

On Wednesday, the U.S. will face the pre-tournament favorite, India.

How HOKA is Reimagining the NIL Relationship

HOKA, the renowned athletic footwear and apparel brand, is betting on a new reality with NIL.
June 10, 2024

What Would TNT Sports Look Like Without the NBA? Here’s What We Know

Warner Bros. Discovery still has plenty of other sports rights.
June 6, 2024

NBA Media-Rights Talks: Silver Says Deals Are Near, Wants to ‘Wrap It Up’

The commissioner highlights the ‘complexity’ of the high-profile media-rights negotiations.
Oct 22, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; ESPN broadcasters Doris Burke (left) and Ryan Ruocco during the NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center.
June 6, 2024

Doris Burke Set to Make TV History With NBA Finals Call

The first woman to call a major U.S. men’s championship on TV.
June 6, 2024

CFP and NFL Will Play on the Same Day: Breaking Down the TV Schedule

The CFP has announced its broadcast schedule for the expanded, 12-team postseason.