Burton: “This race track is so narrow and slick, you have to be on top of your game all night long.”
Legendary Broadcaster Ken Squier Delivers Essay on Darlington’s Lasting impact and Joins Ned and Dale Jarrett in the Broadcast Booth for more than 70 Laps of Race Coverage
Dale Jarrett on Broadcasting with his Father and Ken Squier: “This has been one of the highlights of my life.”
Darlington, N.C. — September 6, 2015 — NBC presented NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing in primetime from Darlington Raceway this evening. Marking the return of a proud tradition, this Labor Day Weekend slate of NASCAR action from the track “Too Tough to Tame” pays tribute to NASCAR’s rich history with a “throwback” celebration featuring the look, sound and style of the 1970s.
Sunday’s #NASCARthrowback festivities began with NASCAR America Sunday on NBCSN, hosted by Krista Voda alongside analysts Kyle Petty and Hall of Fame driver Dale Jarrett. At 7PM ET, coverage shifted to NBC, where lead race announcer Rick Allen, 21-time NASCAR Sprint Cup winner Jeff Burton and Daytona 500-winning crew chief Steve Letarte handled the action. Reporters Nate Ryan, Rutledge Wood, Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Mike Massaro and Dave Burns contributed throughout the broadcast.
The following are highlights from the first half of today’s Sprint Cup pre-race and race coverage.
Prior to the race, special guest Ken Squier delivered an essay on the lasting impact of Darlington that the legendary NASCAR broadcaster penned and narrated for today’s broadcast. The essay can be viewed here:
Prior to the race, Burton offered the following preview: “This race track is so narrow and slick, you have to be on top of your game all night long. You drive into the corners and are right against the wall, and because there is very little grip, this is the toughest race track on the circuit.”
Letarte added: “It’s not just tough for the drivers, it’s tough for the crew chiefs as well. This track is very asymmetrical and turns one, two, three and four are all completely different. It’s a very tough race track on new tires and old tires. Now let’s add in the fact that we’re going to have less downforce than we have ever had here with this new aerodynamic package.”
Burton on the rising pressure that drivers who are still fighting for a playoff spot are feeling tonight: “The intensity is ratcheted up in a big way here tonight, and we’re at the hardest track that these drivers will face all year.”
Steve Letarte on the teams who are still “on the bubble”: “Make no mistake, there are eleven guys who have done a great job up to this point and they have already earned a spot in the playoffs. But there are many more who also started the season in February, and they have now reached a point where they must win in order to move forward.”
Just after the lap-50 mark, NBC Sports presented its own “throwback” touch and turned over the broadcast to broadcasting legends Ken Squier, Ned Jarrett, and Ned’s Hall of Fame son, Dale. Squier opened the segment with: “Squier here, and I am pleased, honored and humbled to be beside two of the all-time greats in NASCAR championship racing. [Ned] won the biggest victory in the history of this race track back in 1965, and Dale, the second-generation, was a three-time winner here in Darlington. They are both national champions here in the booth with us tonight on this real special occasion.”
Dale Jarrett: “A lot has changed. The cars have changed, the tires have changed, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the race track. I don’t care how good you are as a driver on all of these corners, you have to pick and choose where you can make your car the fastest and then just drive it through the rest as best as you can… Most places we go, when you run into the wall, it brings out a caution flag, but that’s just a normal thing here.”
Ned Jarrett: “And sometimes getting into the wall here doesn’t hurt you, as long as you don’t get into it too hard.”
Squier on the late Benny Parsons: “You come here, Ned, and this track makes you think of so many names that have meant so much to so many over the years. In 1978, Benny Parsons won this race. Every race that that Benny won seemed to be special, because of the character of that man.”
Ned Jarrett added: “He was such a smooth race car driver, and this track fit his style perfectly. I had the good fortune to work with Benny on ESPN for 19 years. He was such a great broadcaster and personality… he had such a legion of fans.”
Ken, Ned and Dale carried the broadcast for more than 70 laps. At the conclusion of their run, Dale Jarrett said: “This has been one of the highlights of my life. I’ve listened to both of you many, many times over the years and you’re both just outstanding. For me to be able to be here has been just incredible. Thank you.”
An additional set of race notes covering the broadcast’s second half will be distributed later tonight.
–NBC SPORTS GROUP–