Dale Earnhardt Jr awaits qualifying for the 2017 Brickyard 400, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 22, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. File photo by Mike Gentry/UPI | License Photo
NASCAR Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. will move to the television booth after retiring this season, signing a multi-year contract with NBC that will take effect in 2018.
NASCAR's 14-time Most Popular Driver will be part of the NBC broadcast team that includes his former crew chief, Steve Letarte, who entered the booth in 2015.
"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 in a statement Monday. "To be reunited with Steve Letarte, to be able to call legends like (NBC analysts) 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."
The 42-year-old Earnhardt, a two-time Daytona 500 winner with 26 Cup victories, announced his retirement in April that 2017 would be his last full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. He raced in his final Brickyard 400 on Sunday in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, lasting just 76 laps after he was involved in a multi-car crash. He finished 36th in Indianapolis and fell to 22nd in the NASCAR Cup standings.
According to a news release from NBC Sports Group, the deal will give Earnhardt opportunities in other areas, such as movies, television and podcasts. His exact duties during the telecasts are still to be determined.
NBC carries the second half of NASCAR's Monster Energy and Xfinity series seasons through 2024.
"We are excited to welcome Dale Jr. to our team -- both on and off the track," Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Broadcasting and Sports, said in the release. "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."
NBC beat out Fox Sports, which covers the first half of the NASCAR season, to land Earnhardt. He worked for both Fox and NBC in previous capacities, helping call an Xfinity Series race on Fox in June 2016, and being in the NBC booth for two Cup races in 2016 when he was unable to race due to concussion symptoms.
Earnhardt made his debut in the NASCAR Cup Series in 1999, two years before his father, Dale Earnhardt Sr., died in a crash during the final lap of the Daytona 500.