The many years Dale Earnhardt Jr. spent behind the wheel give him a unique perspective in the NBC broadcast booth. He’s skillful at converting that knowledge into easy-to-digest information for the audience when describing the NASCAR action and what’s happening on the track.
At Homestead for the October 21 Xfinity Series race, the NASCAR Hall of Famer took a break from his booth role and strapped inside the cockpit of the No. 88 car for the second time this year, his communication narrowing to an audience of two — crew chief and spotter — instead of a national television audience.
Due to the limited time working together with those two key components of the race team, it was a struggle early. Junior revealed as much over the team radio.
“Well, knocked the s*** out of the 25 there,” Earnhardt said after making contact with Brett Moffitt.
“Yeah, copy. Snuck in there on me,” the spotter responded.
“How bad did you hit it?” the crew chief asked. “We’ll get a picture of it.”
“We ain’t coming to pit road, I’ll tell you that,” the driver responded. “But you’re telling me one thing. The spotter’s telling me another. I know we don’t all work together, but we need to clean it up a little.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Goes on Profanity-Laced Rant
Earnhardt is a racer at his core.
Even though these one-off races are supposed to be a fun opportunity to get behind the wheel and connect with his fans while helping him better understand the car, its latest technology, and how the drivers in the field perform on the track so he can later convey that info to the audience. He wants to win or, at a minimum, perform well — a top-10 finish a realistic goal based on his previous races in retirement.
That competitive mode was on full display later in the race when the driver had another radio exchange with his team. The fiery side came out this time, and his approach was much less diplomatic.
“I’m just trying to get into a f****** rhythm here,” the frustrated driver said. “There is a lot of f****** talking going on right now. I hit the wall like a motherf***** the last couple of laps. Let me concentrate.”
Communication Issues Result in Incident with JRM Teammate
Earnhardt has another unique perspective on the sport as an Xfinity Series team owner at JR Motorsports. Unfortunately, that can make for an awkward and painful experience when he’s in the booth providing race analysis of an incident involving at least one of his cars.
However, this season, a pair of JRM cars have surprisingly tangled with each other on more than a few occasions. The 49-year-old team owner unintentionally joined in on the teammate-on-teammate incident late in the race, when he drove into the side of Josh Berry coming out of a turn, which sent the No. 8 sliding up into the fence.
During the next caution, Earnhardt addressed his mistake. Communication, or lack thereof, was once again the central issue.
“Oh man, that sucks. Right here,” he said. “When I felt like I was here and the eight was in the middle. I didn’t know anybody was to the outside.”
That communication breakdown damaged the No. 8 car and any chances of a solid performance. He finished 32nd. Earnhardt finished fifth and learned how communication is as important on the race track as it is in the broadcast booth.