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Crew Chief Letarte To Switch To TV After 2014

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 9 2014

Steve Letarte, who has been crew chief for Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr., will climb down from the pit box in 2015. (File photo courtesy of NASCAR)

By Rick Minter | Senior Writer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In a surprise announcement, crew chief Steve Letarte, who has been leading Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s team at Hendrick Motorsports, is leaving pit road to be a TV analyst for NBC, beginning with the 2015 season when the network returns to the sport.

”I’ve always been impressed with Steve Letarte’s interviews, and feel smarter after hearing him break down the crucial elements of each race,” NBC executive producer Sam Flood said in a release announcing the hiring of Letarte. “It wasn’t long into our first meeting about this potential role on our broadcast team when I realized that Steve is going to be ‘must see’ TV.”

Letarte will join driver Jeff Burton and announcer Rick Allen on the NBC broadcast team.

Jeff Gordon, who has worked with Letarte in the past, said he believes is ex-crew chief will be a good broadcaster.

“I think he’s going to do fantastic,” Gordon said. “We all know Steve is a good talker, and he’s very knowledgeable about the sport, very passionate about it, and so I think they’ve made an excellent choice there.”

Gordon said he believes Earnhardt will be able to run well this season and next despite the distractions that come with a big change.

“Only time will tell how it’s going to affect them, but I think Steve is very, very good at compartmentalizing the commitment and what it takes to do his job as a crew chief and be the best crew chief that he can be,” Gordon said. “He and Jr. have a great relationship, and I’m sure when the news first broke to Jr., it probably was a bit of an adjustment, but I feel like they’ve worked through all the details on how to maintain that level of competition, the momentum that they had from last year, and keep that going through this year.”

Letarte’s current boss Rick Hendrick said in a release that he wishes Letarte well.

“You never want to see a talented and all-around quality person like Steve (Letarte) move on, but we understand this is an exciting opportunity for him and his family,” Hendrick said. “He has all the tools to be a terrific broadcaster, and I know our fans will enjoy hearing his perspective.”

The statement indicated that Hendrick wouldn’t address the vacant crew chief position until after the season.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Thursday, January 9 2014
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