When NASCAR hits the track for the first race in 2015, there is one crew chief that will no longer be a top the pit box.
Steve LeTarte, who has crew chiefed for Dale Earnhardt Jr. for the past four years, will be stepping off the pit box and becoming an analyst for NBC Sports in 2015. He will join Rick Allen and Jeff Burton in the booth for the second half of the schedule.
“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 Sports and NBCSN executive producer Sam Flood said in a statement.
“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 joined Hendrick Motorsports at the age of 16, sweeping the floors, and moved his way up the ladder before becoming car chief for Jeff Gordon in 2002. He then became Gordon’s crew chief in 2005, before moving to Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 88 team in 2011. Each year, LeTarte has guided the No. 88 team into the Chase. The pair had their best season together last year – scoring 10 top fives and 22 top 10s in the 36 races.
“As soon as I met with Sam Flood and his team at NBC Sports, it became obvious to me how excited they were to be covering NASCAR in 2015 and beyond,” Letarte said. “Their excitement, along with my love for racing, solidified my decision to move away from the pit box and into the broadcast booth.
“I want to thank Rick Hendrick and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports for the opportunities they have given me over the last eighteen years, and I want to reaffirm my commitment to Dale Jr. and the entire No. 88 team to go win races and challenge for the championship in 2014.”
Shortly after NBC made the announcement, Rick Hendrick released a statement…
“You never want to see a talented and all-around quality person like Steve move on, but we understand this is an exciting opportunity for him and his family,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “He has all the tools to be a terrific broadcaster, and I know our fans will enjoy hearing his perspective.
“We’re looking forward to a successful year in 2014 with Steve and Dale leading the No. 88 together. They have some of the best chemistry in the garage, and we know they’ll build on last season and continue to be a championship-contending team.
“We don’t expect to address the crew chief position until after the season. Everyone with the team is focused on 2014 and committed to having another great year.”