Allen and Burton to NBC Booth in 2015
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on December 3, 2013 | 7:30 P.M. EST
NBC announced Tuesday that Burton will serve as its analyst in the TV booth in 2015 when the network begins broadcasting NASCAR races. He will be joined by Rick Allen. (Photo: Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS - While it might not provide the same challenges as racing, Jeff Burton knows his role as NBC’s lead analyst in 2015 won’t be simple.
“It’s a job, and it’s going to take effort and it’s going to take work,’’ Burton said Tuesday after NBC made him its first member of its NASCAR broadcast team.
NBC and NBC Sports Network will begin broadcasting NASCAR races in July 2015. Before then, Burton will continue to drive. He has a one-year contract with Michael Waltrip Racing. His schedule has not been announced but Burton estimates running between six and 14 Sprint Cup races this season. He will spend much of his time testing and working with the organization.
Burton’s TV duties also will begin in 2014 with a racing show the network plans to air. NBC officials didn’t add any other details about that program. Burton declined to reveal the length of his contract with NBC but said it was a “long-term’’ deal.
Sam Flood, executive director of NBC Sports and NBC Sports Network, said that Burton was “the one guy that I wanted’’ years ago.
“He says what’s his on his mind,’’ Flood said. “He’s articulate, he’s bright and he’s passionate.’’
Burton knows that he’ll be expected to critically analyze drivers he knows and raced against it.
“It’s OK to tell the truth,’’ Burton said. “What if Matt Kenseth, who is a friend of mine, spins somebody out? What am I supposed to say? Well, I’m going to say he spun him out. That’s just how you have to do it.
“I think it’s important that you understand what you’re talking about. As long as you understand what you’re talking about and you’ve spent time researching it and looking at the video and making sure you call it the right way, then I think you’re OK.’’
Burton understands there will be times he won’t get it right.
“When you screw up, say you screwed up,’’ he said. “There’s no harm in that. No one is perfect. I learned that wrecking racecars. I get out of the car and say I screwed up and I wrecked. They saw it. Why don’t you just say it? People aren’t stupid. They know you screwed up, so just say it.’’
Burton brings a wealth of experience to NBC. Burton, who completed his 20th season in Cup this year, has 21 wins and placed in the top five in points four consecutive seasons. He finished 20th in the points this past season for Richard Childress Racing.
“In being a driver that has been at the top of the game and been in the middle of the pack, I understnad when you’re in the middle of the pack, nobody is asking you any questions except for what the (heck) is wrong,’’ Burton said. “In my eyes, when you’re in the business of telling the story of what is going on, I think you need to be figuring out what is going on. Sometimes that race for 20th is more exciting than for the lead. We need to be able to tell that story effectively.’’
Burton also will be able to share more with fans because of his experience this season at Michael Waltrip Racing.
He will serve primarily as a test driver running in select races.
“That really gets me back to what I’m good at,’’ Burton said. “I think my strengths are in trying to help a team move forward and trying to do more than just be a driver. Being able to go do a lot of testing, being involved real heavily in the test team and trying to help the move the teams forward in just speed issues, those are things, historically, when I’ve been able to focus on those I’ve had good success. The opportunity I have with MWR allows me to go back to that, do some racing and transition into (TV) slowly.’’
NBC also named longtime FOX Sports 1 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series anchor Rick Allen, as lead anchor for their NASCAR coverage.
“I met Rick early on in his career and it has been fun to watch him develop into one of the most talented voices in motorsports,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer, NBC Sports and NBCSN. “His energetic delivery, great voice, and ability to bring the best out of his analysts have led him to this well-earned position of covering NASCAR’s most-watched events.”
Allen’s sports background is wide-ranging, and includes his own impressive run as a decathlete, which sent him to the 1992 USA Olympic Trials. As a broadcaster, he currently serves as Fox Sports’ race announcer for NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the ARCA Racing Series. In addition to his on-camera television work, Allen is widely recognized as a top voice-over talent. Allen’s voice has been utilized for narrations and national campaigns for companies including Goodyear, Sears, Alltel and Toyota. Allen has hosted multiple motorsports studio shows on SPEED, has presided over several post season awards banquets, and has served on the Voting Panel for the NASCAR Hall of Fame since its inception in 2010. A native of Grand Island, Neb, Allen began his career in 1994 as the public address announcer at Memorial Stadium during University of Nebraska football games.
“I’ve had the good fortune to work with some of the most talented people in this industry over the last decade,” said Allen. “Now I’m excited to be a part of the incredible team that NBC Sports is assembling for their NASCAR coverage.”