Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other plans and washed out the day's schedule. Air Titan, NASCAR's sophisticated track drying machine, topped the speed charts for the day.
However, that did not mean there weren't plenty of news stories coming from Daytona including this "Must See TV" bombshell.
It's now been confirmed that Steve Letarte, the crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr's #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, will be departing at the end of the 2014 season and will join the NBC Sports NASCAR broadcast team next year.
An official press release from NBC Sports this morning offered some additional details:
The announcement was made today by Sam Flood, Executive Producer, NBC Sports and NBCSN. "I've always been impressed with Steve Letarte's interviews, and feel smarter after hearing him break down the crucial elements of each race", said Flood. "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 will join fellow analyst Jeff Burton and race announcer Rick Allen across NBC Sports Groups exclusive coverage of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series action on NBC and NBCSN, which includes races, pre- and post-race shows, qualifying, and studio programming.
This surprise announcement comes at a point in time when NASCAR observers felt the combination of Earnhardt and Letarte was moving in a very positive direction with many feeling they were going to be serious race winning, championship contenders this year. That theory still rings true despite the fact that this will Letarte's final season with the team.
This morning team owner Rick Hendrick issued the following statement:
"You never want to see a talented and all-around quality person like Steve (Letarte) move on, but we understand this is an exciting opportunity for him and his family. He has all the tools to be a terrific broadcaster, and I know our fans will enjoy hearing his perspective."
"We're looking forward to a successful year in 2014 with Steve and Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) leading the #88 together. They have some of the best chemistry in the garage, and we know they'll build on last season and continue to be a championship-contending team. We don't expect to address the crew chief position until after the season. Everyone with the team is focused on 2014 and committed to having another great year."