NBC Sports Names Rick Allen As Lead NASCAR Announcer, Joining Burton In Booth
NBC Sports Group yesterday named Rick Allen lead NASCAR announcer when its coverage begins in '15, as he signed a multiyear agreement to call the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series. Allen comes to NBC after calling races on FS1/Speed. He will be joined in the booth by Jeff Burton (NBC). USA TODAY's Nate Ryan notes a third member of the booth "will be announced later." NBC Sports Exec Producer Sam Flood said of Burton, "Jeff's the go-to guy who will have a strong, well thought-out position on whatever's going on. He'll offer opinions and not play the PC game. He'll tell you what he thinks, and if it goes against one of his buddies, he knows he wears the Peacock (NBC's logo) first. His job is to the audience and not to protect friendships." Flood added, "Our first job is the audience and being honest and loyal to them. We'll never embarrass a partner, but we'll give our opinion." Ryan writes NASCAR execs "have been pointing at NBC's re-entry into Sprint Cup broadcasting with the 2015 season as a fresh sheen that could help reinvigorate the sport's popularity." The net "views its return the same way -- and not just by increasing the number of eyeballs glued to TV sets." Flood: "We have to get the core fan back, get people to the track and remind them it's the coolest place to be on earth on a Sunday" (USA TODAY, 12/5).
ADVICE FOR BURTON: SPORTING NEWS' Bob Pockrass wrote many people "had Jeff Burton penciled in as the best driver for the next TV job," and the "good thing for Burton is that he can study how other former drivers have done in the booth." Burton "can’t worry about upsetting friends and fellow drivers with things he says," as he need to "shoot straight." That will be "easy for the most part, but it will be difficult at times." Burton can do his job "without being in the garage as long as he continues to talk to principles in the sport." However, to "remain respected, he needs to walk through the garage, even if it is for a short time and even if he doesn’t get too much done." It "gives the perception that he is interested in being more than just a voice on TV." Meanwhile, as long as Burton is driving or testing for Michael Waltrip Racing, it "will be hard for him to comment objectively on what’s going on with that team." He will "earn more respect by avoiding any potential conflict of interest" (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 12/4).
FRANCE HAPPY WITH DEALS: NASCAR Chair & CEO Brian France told attendees at the ’13 NASCAR Motorsports Marketing Forum he “couldn’t be more pleased” with NASCAR’s new TV deal with Fox and NBC. France said, “NBC has put a huge bet on NASCAR. What I really like about it -- people will see over time -- is for them to be successful … they have to reinvent the presentation part of NASCAR. On-air talent, graphics and how everything is presented. They’re going to do some things that are going to push the envelope.” France said Fox has done an “outstanding job for us,” but added the network will be “pushed, in a good way,” because of NBC’s presence beginning in ’15. Meanwhile, France called the Gen-6 car’s first year in the Sprint Cup Series a success, but said the organization is still working on its competition review in order to have the “closest, most competitive and safest racing in the world.” France: “We think we can do better” (Josh Carpenter, Staff Writer).