After there was speculation they might get NASCAR rights a year early, NBC will have to wait another year as ESPN will finish out their contract with NASCAR in 2014 in a lame duck year. Nevertheless, the peacock has already announced who will call the races when they get NASCAR back in 2015.
Veteran racing announcer Rick Allen will be the play by play man and longtime NASCAR driver Jeff Burton will be NBC's lead analyst. Here's what NBC executive producer Sam Flood said about each of the network's new NASCAR voices:
On Jeff Burton…
“Jeff Burton was always the first person we would seek out when there was breaking news or an issue that needed to be covered throughout our previous contract with NASCAR, so he was the first person we called for this role,” said Flood. “His insights, keen observations and many trophies have earned the respect of everyone involved with the sport. He will be an outstanding analyst, and has everyone here looking even more forward to getting started.”
On Rick Allen…
“I met Rick early on in his career and it has been fun to watch him develop into one of the most talented voices in motorsports,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer, NBC Sports and NBCSN. “His energetic delivery, great voice, and ability to bring the best out of his analysts have led him to this well-earned position of covering NASCAR’s most-watched events.”
Burton and Allen will bring a fresh perspective to the Cup series for NBC, who featured Allen Bestwick and Bill Weber at play by play and Wally Dallenbach and the late Benny Parsons as analysts in their first NASCAR stint. I had thought NBC might look into re-signing Bestwick, who also replaced Dr. Jerry Punch as ESPN's lead NASCAR play by play man. With NBC looking elsewhere, perhaps that's why Bestwick was seen calling a college football game last weekend for ESPN.
It's quite the promotion for Allen, who currently calls the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for Fox. Burton will transition from a full-time racing career to a full-time analyst career in the next year to prepare for 2015. He's always been one of the more engaging, well-spoken drivers on the circuit and should be a great fit for NBC. Time will tell if NBC follows the Fox-ESPN format and puts a crew chief in the broadcast booth as a third man in the vein of Larry McReynolds or Andy Petree. Right now though, the Allen-Burton pairing looks like a promising start for NBC in rebuilding its NASCAR coverage in time for 2015.