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Who Could Replace Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the NBC Booth?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is gone from NBC at least beginning in 2025, and likely for the 2024 season as well. This leaves a major hole in the NBC broadcast team, and the question is who can fill it? Well, there are a few candidates that NBC can look at to take over for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. had been a part of NBC since 2018 when his driving career ended. With his departure, NBC is left with the original 3 in the broadcast booth, Steve Letarte, Rick Allen, and Jeff Burton.
  • This was NBC’s first booth departure since rejoining NASCAR in 2015. While there has been some turnover with pit reporters, the booth has stayed pretty constant.
  • Fans were surprised to see Earnhardt Jr. leaving NBC. Many feel that his leaving blows a major hole in NBC’s production of NASCAR.

Kurt Busch

While it is impossible to replace the star power of Dale Earnhardt Jr., NBC probably wants a recognizable name to fill the shoes. Busch fits that bill as he was the 2004 Series Champion, which was at the height of NASCAR’s boom, and he is still beloved by the fanbase.

He did spend some time in the booth as a guest commentator for Fox at COTA in 2023, and he did a solid job overall. Still, he does not have much experience in the booth, which could deter NBC a bit. This would give NBC a definite star with a recognizable name in the booth.

Rusty Wallace

While he has not raced since 2005, Rusty Wallace is still a recognizable name amongst NASCAR fans. He has been a broadcaster since 2007, with his first stint being at ESPN before moving to MRN where he remains to this day. As far as the combination of broadcasting experience with star power, it’s tough to find a better match than Rusty Wallace.

The issue with Wallace is that he’s been out of the spotlight for a while. While he has been broadcasting on MRN, MRN does not broadcast every race, and most fans consume races on TV. With the lack of presence on the screen, does he have the star power he once held?

Jamie McMurray

Jamie McMurray was the one many hoped to take that third spot in the Fox booth for 2024, but, it went to Kevin Harvick. McMurray has made a few appearances in the booth, and each of them has been very good. He is very insightful, and many, including Denny Hamlin, were complimentary of his work.

The problem with McMurray is star power. He only won 6 career races in the Cup Series, and he was never a superstar when he was racing. While die-hard NASCAR fans know who he is, his name is not going to pique the interest of more casual fans. On top of that, McMurray may be a broadcaster who likes staying in the studio and not traveling as much.

Dale Jarrett or Kyle Petty to the Booth

This is probably the easiest thing for NBC to do. They can take either Dale Jarrett or Kyle Petty and plop them into the broadcast booth. Both are part of iconic racing families with star power, and they both have years of experience broadcasting.

However, similar to Rusty Wallace, they both have not raced in 16 years. Yes, they have been around the sport, but, they are not the ones who were being talked about as big stars throughout the 2000s or 2010s. They have star power, but, do they have star power amongst a younger audience?

Stick with a 3 Commentator Booth

Fox has a 3 commentator booth, so, why not stick with the booth they currently have? NBC used the trio of Rick Allen, Steve Letarte, and Jeff Burton from 2015-2017, and it seemed to work pretty well. What’s the need for adding an extra commentator where there does not need to be one?

The issue with this is how it changes the workflow at NBC. Each commentator will have to adjust to having only 3 in the booth instead of 4. On top of that, the booth does not have nearly as much star power as it did when Earnhardt Jr. was in the booth.

Which one should join the booth? Did we miss anyone?

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Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

All Posts