Dale Jr. now feels "emotionally invested" as NASCAR broadcaster
Dale Earnhardt Jr. still has an “itch” to drive but these days he’s more concerned with working to become a better TV broadcaster.
Earnhardt retired from fulltime NASCAR competition following the 2017 season and joined the NBC Sports TV booth this season, which concluded last month. He drove in one Xfinity Series race during the year, finishing fourth at Richmond, Va., in the fall.
“I have this itch or urge to go race or run a race or just drive a car somewhere or whatever but I don’t have a clear regret or like a real urge that’s got to be satisfied,” Earnhardt said this week during a Nationwide Insurance appearance in Mooresville, N.C.
“The way that I feel about it and the way that I miss it is kind of healthy toward doing the job as a broadcaster. It makes me excited to go watch the race and excited about what I'm going to see and that comes out genuinely in my tone.”
Earnhardt said he really didn’t know what to expect as far as how fans would accept his role as a regular broadcaster.
“Week after week after week, it was just so fun and people seemed to be happy with it for the most part,” he said. “I know there are some people probably don’t love it. But the majority of the feedback that I got was positive, and that spurred me on just to keep digging and keep working and keep doing what I was doing.
“Hopefully, that will be enough to keep me around for a while. I really had a lot of fun. I went in not sure I’d be able to do it and not sure I’d be any good at it, then as it got going, I found out that I liked it a lot and I want to do it for a long time.
“Now, I’m sort of emotionally invested and I want to do whatever I need to do to become as good as I possibly can.”
Earnhardt admitted he was “really scared” about his work as a broadcaster and NBC’s part of the season grew closer but as soon as his appearances began he grew more comfortable.
“You still kind of go some on-cameras and they’re terrible, or you feel like they’re terrible, so there is a lot of room for improvement for me. And that’s great. The response has been positive and if I can improve a lot, it can only make people be more excited about me being part of the broadcast.
“I still have a long ways to go, though. You’re always kind of judging yourself and critiquing your performance.”
Earnhardt said that it’s “hard” to go back and re-watch his appearances on camera.
“I know it’s good practice to do that because that’s the only way you’re really going to see what you’re doing wrong,” he said. “It’s so weird when you do the broadcast. You’ll say, ‘That 15 minutes right there didn’t feel good’ and you’ll go watch it and it wasn’t that bad.
“Or you’ll think something is great and you go back and watch it and it’s not really as good as you thought. If you don’t watch, you’re never really going to know where you’re screwing up and what you can do better, what you need to avoid and what you do repetitively.
“I haven’t gotten comfortable yet listening to myself and watching myself but I need to.”
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Broadcast times released for 2019 NASCAR Cup Series events