Why is NBC’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. on FOX’s NASCAR Talladega broadcast today?

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. is playing hooky.

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA – JANUARY 21: NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Dale Earnhardt Jr. speaks during the 2021 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction ceremony at NASCAR Hall of Fame on January 21, 2022 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The NASCAR on NBC Sports commentator is joining the FOX Sports broadcast team for the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in a one-off appearance for the marquee race.

Earnhardt had six wins at NASCAR’s longest track, trailing only his father Dale Sr.’s 10 and he is the only driver who has won at the track four times in a row.

According to The Athletic, FOX Sports executives reached out to their colleagues at NBC in early April to ask if they wouldn’t mind loaning him for his expertise.

“It’s not lost on me how rare this is to have your lead analyst appear on another network,” Brad Zager, Fox Sports president of production and operation and executive producer, told The Athletic. “I totally would have understood them saying no, right? That’s their guy. They pay him for exclusivity and to appear on those NASCAR broadcasts on NBC. So, the headline is, ‘Thank You, NBC,’ for sure.”

MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA - APRIL 07: Dale Earnhardt Jr, driver of the #88 Hellmann's Fridge Hunters Chevrolet, drives during qualifying for the NASCAR Xfinity Series  Call 811 Before You Dig 250 powered by Call 811.com at Martinsville Speedway on April 07, 2022 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA – APRIL 07: Dale Earnhardt Jr, driver of the #88 Hellmann’s Fridge Hunters Chevrolet, drives during qualifying for the NASCAR Xfinity Series  Call 811 Before You Dig 250 powered by Call 811.com at Martinsville Speedway on April 07, 2022 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“Dale joining us in the booth says so much about his love of the sport of NASCAR, and there is absolutely no one more equipped to call a race at Talladega,” Zager said in a press release.

Earnhardt will join Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer in the booth for the race before heading home to wait until NBC Sports picks up coverage of the Cup Series with the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 26.

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The Geico 500 is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. ET on FOX.

 

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