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What The Heck is NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt Jr. Doing At The Indy 500?




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Dale Earnhardt Jr. stands on the grid during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 22, 201

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Getty

NBC will telecast the Indianapolis 500 for the first time Sunday, and, just to hammer home the point that NBC is taking this lot more than ABC did or Fox is with its tired NASCAR coverage, the broadcast team will include two extremely high-profile shapes NASCAR drivers: Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Before she jumped from Indy cars to NASCAR in 2010, Patrick became famous for becoming the first woman to lead the Indy 500 and wrapped up her career (she says ) by driving in the Indy 500 last year for the eighth time. So she is a known open-wheel commodity at the Brickyard.

Dale Jr. He drove 17 times in the Brickyard 400, NASCAR's slow-paced answer to the Indy 500 But the Indianapolis 500 is a completely different one t. It is the world's biggest auto race, contested for the 103d time Sunday.

 

For nearly two decades, the Indy 500 took a back seat to the Coca-Cola 600, the NASCAR race held later the day before Memorial Day, but the Indy 500 is bigger again, with a terrific buzz.

Between 2006 and 2014, the NASCAR race in Charlotte had better TV ratings than the Indy 500 except for one year. A year ago, the last Indy 500 to be televised by ABC Coke 600, 4.91 million viewers to 4.09 million viewers.

Now NBC is pushing its first telecast of the Indy 500 hard, cross-promoting the race with other shows on the network and adding Earnhardt and Patrick as analysts. It will be difficult to recapture all the viewers who walked away, b out NBC has injected some excitement into the biggest day for auto racing in America, and the Indy 500 will be worth at least a peek.

Earnhardt will serve again as the analyst for NBC's NASCAR telecasts for the second half of the season, but NBC has been using it all to promote all of its sports telecasts, like the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby and the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Fox Still has the Coke 600, one of NASCAR's biggest races. But NBC has one of NASCAR's biggest names, and will be 585 miles from the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

" It's a lot of emotion, a lot of energy, " Earnhardt said Thursday on a conference call with reporters. " It's going to be something like I've never witnessed before, and I can't wait to have fun on Sunday during the show.

" Pre-race is going to be a lot of fun, that least for us as we move around, and I'm going to be able to see this race for the first time from such an incredible perspective as part of this broadcast team. Just coming out here – I would be here anyway whether NBC sent me or not. " Earnhardt will drive the race car for the race, and he will be roaming the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Rutledge Wood, the NBC reporter who covers offbeat angles or NASCAR, filing reports on quirky stuff, like maybe the " Snake Pit, " the speedway's sometimes unruly mosh pit. ABC did a little of that, but NBC will be leaning on Earnhardt. & Nbsp; He really does sound enthusiastic about this assignment.

" NBC has been sending me all over the place for the last several months to experience a lot of new things, and this is another amazing trip, and I can't wait to work with my buddy Rutledge and see what the Indianapolis 500 is all about, " Earnhardt said. " It's going to be a lot of emotion, a lot of energy. It's going to be something like I've never seen before, and I can't wait to have fun on Sunday during the show.

" Pre-race is going to be a lot of fun, at least for us as we move around, and I'm going to be able to see this race for the first time from such an incredible perspective as part of this broadcast team. Just coming out here – I would be here anyway whether NBC sent me or not, but will be from a perspective like no other. " Pay attention. Earnhardt will help to provide a taste of how NBC will carry car racing in the future, relying heavily on personalities to bridge the gap when the cars seem to be just going around in circles. NBC covered the documentary earlier this month on Mario Andretti, the immigrant from Italy who won the 1969 Indy 500.

" I didn't think everyone had a full understanding of where he came from and what he was Sam Flood, Executive Director of NBC Sports, said in the conference call.

" And that story is symbolic of what we try and do at NBC, make you Care about people, you can find a story at a different level, and that's the training we have here for years, and we're hoping we can count on the same kind of stories on Sunday and get more people to come back beyond the 500.

" We hope if the fans can fall in love with these drivers in this sport and this event they'll join us the following weekend in Detroit for the double-header there. And that's part of the job is welcoming the entire sports world to this and not just the race car fan. "

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. stands on the grid during qualifying for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 22, 2017.

Getty

NBC will telecast the Indianapolis 500 for the first time Sunday, and, just to hammer home the point that NBC is taking This is a lot more than ABC did or Fox has with its NASCAR coverage, the broadcast team will include two extremely high-profile forms NASCAR drivers: Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Before she jumped from Indy cars to NASCAR 2010, Patrick became famous for becoming the first woman to lead the Indy 500 and wrapped up her career (she says) at driving in the Indy 500 last year for the eighth time.

Dale Jr. He drove 17 times in the Brickyard 400, NASCAR's slow-paced answer to the Indy 500, but Indianapolis 500 is a completely different event. It is the world's biggest car race, contested for the 103d time Sunday.

For nearly two decades, the Indy 500 took a back seat to the Coca-Cola 600, the NASCAR race held later the day before Memorial Day, but the Indy 500 is bigger again, with a terrific buzz.

Between 2006 and 2014, the NASCAR race in Charlotte had better TV ratings than the Indy 500 except for one year. A year ago, the last Indy 500 to be televised by ABC Coke 600, 4.91 million viewers to 4.09 million viewers.

Now NBC is pushing its first telecast of the Indy 500 hard, cross-promoting the race with other shows on the network and adding Earnhardt and Patrick as analysts. It will be difficult to recapture all the viewers who walked away, b out NBC has injected some excitement into the biggest day for auto racing in America, and the Indy 500 will be worth at least a peek. [19659027] Earnhardt will serve again as the analyst for NBC's NASCAR telecasts for the second half of the season, but NBC has been using it all to promote all of its sports telecasts, like the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby and the Stanley Cup playoffs. [19659005] Fox still has the Coke 600, one of NASCAR's biggest races. But NBC has one of NASCAR's biggest names, and will be 585 miles from the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"It's going to be a lot of emotion, a lot of energy," Earnhardt said Thursday on a conference call with reporters. "It's going to be something like I've never witnessed before, and I can't wait to have fun on Sunday during the show." "Pre-race is going to be a lot of fun, at least for us as we move around, and I'm going to be able to see this race for the first time from such an incredible perspective as part of this broadcast team. Just coming out here – I would be here anyway whether NBC sent me or not. Earnhardt will drive the race car for the race, and he will be roaming the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Rutledge Wood, the NBC reporter who covers offbeat angles of NASCAR, filing reports on quirky stuff, like maybe the "Snake Pit," the speedway's sometimes unruly mosh pit. ABC did a little of that, but NBC will be leaning on Earnhardt. He really does sound enthusiastic about this assignment.

" NBC has been sending me all over the place for the last several months to experience a lot of new things, and this is another amazing trip, and I can't wait to get to work with my buddy Rutledge and see what the Indianapolis 500 is all about, "Earnhardt said." It's going to be a lot of emotion, a lot of energy. It's going to be something like I've never seen before, and I can't wait to have fun on Sunday during the show.

"Pre-race is going to be a lot of fun, at least for us as we move around, and I'm going to be able to see this race for the first time from such an incredible perspective as part of this broadcast team Just coming out here – I would be here anyway whether NBC sent me or not, but this will be from a perspective like no other. "

Pay attention. Earnhardt will help to provide a taste of how NBC will carry car racing in the future, relying heavily on personalities to bridge the gap when the cars seem to be just going around in circles. NBC covered new ground with a documentary earlier this month on Mario Andretti, the immigrant from Italy who won the 1969 Indy 500.

"I don't think everyone had a full understanding of where he came from and what he was able to accomplished from these very humble roots, "Sam Flood, the executive director of NBC Sports, said in the conference call.

" And that story is symbolic of what we try and do at NBC, make you care about people, take you inside a story at a different level, and that's the training we have here for years, and we're hoping we can count on the same kind of stories on sunday and get more people to come back beyond the 500.

"We hope if the fans can fall in love with these drivers in this sport and this event they'll join us the following weekend in Detroit for the double-header there. And that's part of the job is welcoming the entire sports world to this and not just the race car fan. "


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