Dale Earnhardt Jr. is a great ambassador for NASCAR. He’s always open to the sport exploring new options to attract new fans. Racing on the road course at Indianapolis is the exact type of thing that has the potential of drawing in a new audience.
While Earnhardt is looking forward to watching NASCAR race on the road course this weekend in both the Xfinity and Cup Series, the two-time Daytona 500 winner didn’t shy away from expressing his concerns about several things at the track that make him worry about his own personal safety.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. not a fan of radio-style broadcast
This past weekend Dale Earnhardt Jr. covered another road course for NBC at Watkins Glen and did it in the radio-style broadcast format, where one announcer describes the action over a certain portion of the track, before passing it to the next announcer, all the way around the track. The network has done it for several years, including the first two calls during races at Pocono earlier this year.
Earnhardt admitted he’s not a fan of the style that pushes him out of his comfort zone.
“I really don’t enjoy doing radio-style that much,” Earnhardt admitted on his podcast, the Dale Jr. Download. “It’s kind of fun at The Glen, and we’ll see how it is at Indy. I didn’t enjoy doing it at all at Pocono. Can’t remember where else we’ve done it. It’s fun at The Glen because The Glen is a fun track to go stand over in the Bus Stop and talk about cars and racing. But outside of The Glen, I don’t really know if I’m going to love it.
“The radio style of calling a race is so much different and foreign to me. You can tell there is a major difference between (Mike) Bagley, that worked the esses for us this weekend and does radio every week. There’s a big difference between how he does it, and how I do it, and how Jeff Burton does it. He’s got a gift to call a race a certain way and I don’t have that gift. I’m not sure I could develop it. I like TV and I think there’s a lot about TV that helps me do my job better or be an analyst because I feel at home in the booth.”
Earnhardt terrified covering Indianapolis road course on scissor lift at end of long straightaway
Before the first-ever combined weekend of racing with the IndyCar and NASCAR series at the same track, Earnhardt and the NBC broadcast teams for the weekend’s races held a press conference and talked about what they were expecting.
Earnhardt detailed how he will be working in Turn 7 at the end of a long straightway high atop a 40-foot tall scissor lift. He said his work location is super convenient because it’s a short walk to his bus.
However, the NASCAR Hall of Famer also conveyed a sense of trepidation about the weekend’s assignment being so high off the ground. He confessed he’s already checked the weather for the wind conditions (they’re good). He also admitted it’s a great view looking back down the long straightaway but concerning at the same time.
“That’s going to be really scary, to be honest with you, those guys coming down there,” Earnhardt said. “I think my scissor lift is exactly right in line with the braking zone. So that’s kind of terrifying.”
Drivers not excited about the road course
While Dale Earnhardt Jr. has concerns with Indianapolis specific to his own safety, there are other drivers who aren’t concerned about safety but history. Multiple drivers, including Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson voiced their opposition to this year’s race being moved from the famed oval to the road course.
“It’s unbelievable. I can’t even believe it,” said Harvick, who has won three Brickyard 400s. “It’s the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I’m just old school. I’m sure there will be a lot of people that will enjoy it. I won’t be one of them.”
Kyle Larson agreed.
“It’s just something about that place,” Larson said. “We all want to go there and run the oval and kiss the yard bricks from the oval. Definitely bittersweet to win on the road course there. Obviously, we all want to win on it, but I’m bummed like Kevin Harvick.”
History will be made this weekend as the Cup Series races on the Indianapolis road course for the first time. And Dale Earnhardt Jr. will witness it from one of the greatest/scariest views around the entire track.