Earnhardt Jr.'s crew chief Letarte to join NBC in 2015

Daytona Beach, FL ( - Crew chief Steve Letarte will leave Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports team at the conclusion of the 2014 Sprint Cup Series season and join NBC Sports for its coverage of NASCAR next year.

NBC Sports Group made the official announcement of Letarte's addition to its NASCAR broadcast team on Thursday afternoon after several media outlets reported the story earlier in the day.

Starting in 2015, NBC Sports is televising the final 20 Sprint Cup races as well as the last 19 Nationwide Series events of the season. Letarte will serve as an analyst. In the broadcast booth, he will join Rick Allen, who is the current announcer of FOX Sport 1's coverage of the Camping World Truck Series, and Jeff Burton, who is driving a partial Sprint Cup schedule for Michael Waltrip Racing this upcoming season.

"I've always been impressed with Steve Letarte's interviews and feel smarter after hearing him break down the crucial elements of each race," NBC Sports and NBCSN executive producer Sam Flood said in a statement. "It wasn't long into our first meeting about this potential role on our broadcast team when I realized that Steve is going to be 'Must See TV'."

Letarte has served as Earnhardt's crew chief since the start of the 2011 season. The pair have one win (June 2012 at Michigan) and have qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship the past three years. Earnhardt finished the 2013 season fifth in the point standings. Letarte was also a crew chief for Jeff Gordon, guiding the four-time Cup champion to consecutive Chase berths from 2006-10.

"As soon as I met with Sam Flood and his team at NBC Sports, it became obvious to me how excited they are to be covering NASCAR in 2015 and beyond," Letarte said. "Their excitement, along with my love for racing, solidified my decision to move away from the pit box and into the broadcast booth. I want to thank Rick Hendrick and everyone at Hendrick Motorsports for the opportunities they have given me over the last 18 years, and I want to reaffirm my commitment to Dale Jr. and the entire 88 team to go win races and challenge for the championship in 2014."

Letarte has worked for Hendrick Motorsports since 1995 when he was 16 years old.

"You never want to see a talented and all-around quality person like Steve move on, but we understand this is an exciting opportunity for him and his family," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. "He has all the tools to be a terrific broadcaster, and I know our fans will enjoy hearing his perspective."