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Ned Jarrett Returns to ESPN TV Booth: Ned Jarrett, one of the most popular motorsports announcers in history and a mainstay of ESPN’s NASCAR coverage for 15 years, will make a guest appearance alongside his son, Dale Jarrett, in the ESPN booth Saturday night during ESPN2’s live, prime-time coverage of the Busch Series race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The telecast will begin at 7:30pm/et. Father and son will work together as television analysts for the first time. The elder Jarrett was an auto racing analyst for ESPN from 1986 until the network ended its previous period of NASCAR coverage in 2000, at which point the two-time NASCAR Cup champion retired from television. Dale, still an active Nextel Cup driver, is working as an analyst on 10 Busch Series race telecasts this season. He made his ESPN debut in April. "Ned Jarrett has a tremendous role in the history of ESPN and NASCAR,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president, studio and remote production. “A legendary father joining his legendary son in the ESPN booth, having Ned back just for one race, is certainly special to all of us. This is Father's Day arriving early for Ned and Dale, and our viewers will be the lucky ones." The Jarretts will work the ESPN booth with lead announcer Dr. Jerry Punch and analyst Andy Petree. All four are from tiny Newton, N.C., and Punch and Petree were part of Dale Jarrett’s first racing team in the late 1970s. Punch shared ownership with Ned. Dale was one of the founding drivers of the Busch Series in 1982. “I’m looking forward to Saturday night and working with my dad,” said Dale, who is filling in for ESPN’s lead auto racing analyst Rusty Wallace. “It should be a blast having him there in the booth with Jerry, Andy and me. He was a big part of my success and getting started in racing.” Ned Jarrett’s last race as a driver was in 1966, and he became a radio broadcaster shortly after. He added TV work in the 1970s. “I didn’t get to race against Dale because he was only 9 years old when I retired, but now to have the chance to work with him in the broadcast booth, my second career, is pretty neat,” he said. One of the most memorable moments in NASCAR television history occurred in 1993, when Dale won the Daytona 500 with his excited father calling the final lap from the television booth. Ned also lists as personal career highlights: working the ESPN telecast of Dale’s first NASCAR Cup win in 1991 at Michigan International Speedway and interviewing Dale on pit road for ESPN when he clinched the 1999 championship. Ned helped along his son’s driving career at the beginning and has helped with advice on Dale’s foray into television. “He asked my opinion before he agreed to do this,” Ned said. “I thought he was capable of doing it, and I felt he would be good for it and it would be good for ESPN. I feel that the best advice I can give anyone in TV is to listen to what’s being said and pay attention so that you’re not repeating what someone else has said. It helps to get into the rhythm and make a better contribution to the broadcast.” Dale has worked five telecasts so far and Ned said he has watched them all. “I’ve honestly been impressed,” he said. “I’m prejudiced but I also feel I’m realistic. He’s done a good job for the role he’s been in. I’ve had a lot of people tell me he puts it in ways they can understand it, and they appreciate that. I told him that broadcasting would be as big a challenge as driving,” Ned said. “I’m just as proud of what he’s done in the broadcast booth as I am of what he’s done in the race car.”(ESPN PR)(5-23-2007)
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