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« NASCAR on TV: What Impact is HDTV Having on Sports Attendance? | Main | NASCAR on TV: Are the Networks Really Giving 100%? »

Kudos to Steve Letarte on his decision to give up crew chief job

By admin | January 10, 2014

Steve Letarte will be trading in his firesuit for the button down look of a broadcaster in 2015.

By Richard Allen

Since 2011, Steve Letarte has had one of the most thankless jobs in racing. He has served as the crew chief for NASCAR’s most popular driver and has taken a certain amount of criticism for that role. At the same time, the job is one that could also be viewed as reaching the pinnacle of his profession. But earlier this week, the pit boss announced that he would depart as the leader of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s team to take on the role of analyst for NBC when that network begins broadcasting races in 2015.

But the reason for Letarte’s departure has nothing to do with him being blamed for his driver not winning last season or for discord between himself and Earnhardt. Rather, his reason for leaving is much bigger than either of those things.

Letarte has decided that fatherhood is his most important job. The dad of two children plans to spend more time at home with his son and daughter and less time on the road and in the shop after the conclusion of this season.

 ”If I’m going to be unsuccessful in anything I do, being a father shouldn’t be on the list,” Letarte said in a press conference during Daytona International Speedway’s Pre-season Thunder event.

The crew chief says he came to the decision after consulting with Earnhardt after the opportunity became available.

As a father of three myself, I commend Letarte for making the decision he has made. While he will still travel a great deal while working for NBC, that will still only be half a season instead of a full campaign. And while his new job will come with the responsibility to be prepared, he will not have to be at the Hendrick Motorsports race shops for countless hours throughout the week.

 Letarte will work for NBC when that network begins televising races in 2015.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a NASCAR crew member, and many no doubt handle the responsibilities that come with both work and family very well. But if one has to be sacrificed, it is better that it be the job than the family.

Later, Earnhardt said that he is concerned about replacing his crew chief.  ”My fear is just: Can we replace Steve? This guy is going to be hard to replace.” He then added that the coming season will be difficult in some ways. “It’s definitely going to be emotional and difficult at times, just because we really enjoy working together.”

After his press conference, Letarte took to Twitter to assure the fans of his driver that he is fully committed to the upcoming season. “I’m excited to join the @NBCSports team. But want to reaffirm my commitment to Dale, the 88 team and #JuniorNation We have races to win in ‘14!”

Topics: Articles |

5 Responses to “Kudos to Steve Letarte on his decision to give up crew chief job”

  1. Tony Geinzer Says:
    January 11th, 2014 at 10:35 am

    I hate blowing the cover off 8 Days From, During AND After Super Bowl XLVIII Sunday, Rich, but Junior Nation is going to be really a real referendum like Matt Kenseth was 2 Years Ago. Junior always reminds me of Buddy Baker who got on the wheel for the Money (Superspeedway) Races and fell apart the other venues. And with it almost being by default the Earnhardt Nation is the biggest fan club in NASCAR Nation and Universe, to try including some of Our International Friends that discover NASCAR and Motorsports every day in every way, Rich, should take hold on the Crazy 8 and the Crazy 88 because the 88 is and will always be Mike Eddy’s Up North in the Midwest until proved otherwise.

  2. RacingFan Says:
    January 12th, 2014 at 1:47 am

    Buddy Baker’s lesser success on the shorter tracks can better be explained by his size than by his lack of effort. Most of his driving career was before the rules that added some weight to the cars of lighter drivers.

    His weight hindered the handling and acceleration of his car and his height moved the center of gravity up. These negatives had much less effect on the superspeedways where you can run with the pedal to the medal all the way around the track and so he did better there.

  3. RacingFan Says:
    January 12th, 2014 at 1:50 am

    Typo: That should have been pedal to the METAL, not medal.

  4. kb Says:
    January 13th, 2014 at 12:42 am

    Good for him, no doubt a thankless job It’s never, ever Jr..according to the HMS/Junior Nation fanatics.

  5. Michael in SoCal Says:
    January 13th, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    As a Junior fan, I’m happy for Steve Letarte, but bummed for the 88 team as a whole. Junior’s performance with Letarte has been pretty dang good. Now if only Junior was able to turn a couple of those 2nd place finishes (5 of them?!?) last season into wins, us Junior fans might be feeling a bit better. But 2014 is a new year, and Junior has a lot of momentum with Steve to ride into the new year. Here’s hoping their last year together turns into a banner year for the 88 team.

    Interesting the Greg Zippadeli offered to come back to crew chiefing for Tony Stewart. Maybe he’ll come back for Junior. Doubtful though.

    And just a note - not all Junior fans think he walks on water…

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