NBC is rolling out its broadcast team for 2015, and so far, the lineup is solid. Speaking as one who works in the business (on a MUCH smaller scale), Rick Allen is a pro and Jeff Burton has a ton of promise as a color analyst.
Now the question is who will be the third voice in the booth, or will there be a third member of the on-air team? Tradition had held that the third announcer would be a former crew chief, to offer a strategic and technical perspective. Larry McReynolds- former chief for the likes of Dale Earnhardt and Davey Allison- has held down the post for FOX, while Andy Petree (Dale Earnhardt, Harry Gant) has performed in that capacity for ESPN.
Not EVERY network has followed suit. Remember Benny Parsons and Buddy Baker? TNT has gone with Wally Dallenbach Jr. and Kyle Petty.
What should NBC do? Is a third even needed? Those are interesting questions.
Personally, I don’t care, just as long as the combination works. My biggest issue with our current lineup of broadcasters is the absence of another perspective. McReynolds has been referred to as “DW’s talking parrot,” Petree and Dale Jarrett have sounded so much alike that I often have a difficult time discerning who is speaking. Dallenbach and Petty don’t offer enough contrast between each other, and frankly, it just doesn’t seem like the pair have grown any in their years together.
A new perspective is needed. I read where one fan suggested former Martin Truex crew chief Robert “Booty” Barker. There’s an interesting idea. Could Petree play well off of Allen and Burton? It’s possible. It doesn’t have to be another crew chief, opening the door for any number of other personalities. One thought that immediately comes to mind is Ricky Craven, who in my opinion has been great in the broadcast booth when given the opportunity.
The beauty of this is NBC has plenty of time to get it right. They need to do it right. So far, network executives are saying all the right things. Now they need to follow through. What NASCAR needs right now is one LESS problem. In recent years, TV coverage has been a part of the problem. NBC can help change that by learning the lessons of their predecessors.