A change in ESPN's NASCAR booth

By: associated press
By: associated press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- ESPN says Dale Jarrett will replace Rusty Wallace in the booth this season for coverage of NASCAR and Wallace
will become the lead analyst for the network's studio programs.

It's the same path his father, Ned, took upon his retirement from racing. The two-time Cup champion was part of ESPN's crew from 1988 to 2000 and became one of the most respected analysts in stock car racing. He offered his son advice when he began dabbling in the booth last season.

Dale Jarrett thrived last season when he helped call Nationwide Series events, and many believed he was headed into a second career of broadcasting when he retires from racing after driving the first five races of 2008.

The 1999 Cup champion, will join Jerry Punch and Andy Petree in the booth. The three have been friends since high school in Hckory, North Carolina, and all entered NASCAR about the same time.

Wallace, the 1989 Cup champion, joined ESPN upon his 2005 retirement. He was an analyst in 2006 for ESPN's coverage of the IndyCar Series, and moved into the NASCAR booth last season when the network reacquired the television rights for half the season.

But Wallace struggled at times in the booth, and fans complained he mispronounced drivers' names and didn't seem comfortable.

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