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Volume 24 No. 219
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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Praised For Debut As NBC NASCAR Analyst

Earnhardt's likeability in the booth was highlighted by many viewers throughout the race
Photo: NBC SPORTS

NBC Sports yesterday began its ’18 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series coverage from Chicagoland Speedway, with NBCSN drawing a 1.6 overnight rating for the Overton’s 400. It also was the first race with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the booth after retiring last season. Last year, NBC began its Cup Series coverage at Daytona, with the broadcast network drawing a 3.0 overnight on a Saturday night. The telecast from Chicagoland last year, which has previously been the first race of the playoffs in mid-September, drew a 1.4 overnight on NBCSN on a Sunday afternoon. NBCSN’s first race last year -- from Kentucky on a Saturday night in early July -- drew a 1.6 overnight (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor).

JUNIOR ACHIEVEMENT: In Charlotte, Brendan Marks writes from the start of the telecast, it was "apparent Earnhardt had done his homework." He "studied his former peers, knew their statistics and tendencies from this season." The "most glaring comparison that came to mind was Tony Romo" and his NFL booth debut with CBS this past season. Romo and Earnhardt have "likeability about them that makes them perfect for television." During yesterday's race when Jimmie Johnson, a friend of Earnhardt, was "in danger of falling behind a lap, Earnhardt accurately called it out." It was "impressive to see his impartiality so soon." However, there were periods of the race where it felt like Earnhardt "disappeared from the conversation" (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 7/2). NASCAR's official feed tweeted, "It's good to have you back, @DaleJr." Driver Elliott Sadler: "@NASCARonNBC are pretty smart people ... who knew putting @DaleJr in the booth would create best race of the year!" SiriusXM Radio's Claire B. Lang: "Loved @DaleJr from the heart just yelling 'Slide Job - Slide Job!!!!!!!!' from the booth. Awesome!" Motorsport.com's Jim Utter: "This will stick in my head for a while from the last lap: @DaleJr: 'SLIDE JOB!'" CatchFence.com's Chris Knight: "@DaleJr sounds really, really good in the booth." Fantasy racing writer Jordan McAbee: "NBC had a good race to kick off their coverage. Now fix the audio issues." Former NASCAR reporter Monte Dutton: "Many differences in NBC coverage. One is puns. Fox has a lot of puns. And tired pop culture references. I don't miss them" (TWITTER.com, 7/1).