Unexpected exit: Letarte leaving Dale Jr., Hendrick after 2014

Steve Letarte (left) has been the crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Jr. (right) since 2011.

Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Hendrick Motorsports has confirmed that Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s crew chief, Steve Letarte, is stepping down at the end of this season to become a TV analyst for NBC Sports.

Letarte will join fellow analyst Jeff Burton and race announcer Rick Allen for the network’s NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series coverage on NBC and NBCSN, which includes races, pre- and post-race shows, qualifying, and studio programming.

Letarte’s new appointment will be discussed in further detail in a press conference Friday morning at Daytona International Speedway.

A longtime Hendrick employee, Letarte joined Earnhardt Jr. as crew chief in 2011. They have one Sprint Cup win together, at Michigan in 2012. Earnhardt Jr. and Letarte have made the Chase for the Sprint Cup the past three seasons.

Prior to pairing with Earnhardt Jr., Letarte worked as crew chief for Jeff Gordon, also at Hendrick, earning Chase berths from 2006-10. He joined Gordon as crew chief after the 26th race of the 2005 season, and they earned a win six weeks later.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (left) celebrates with crew chief Steve Letarte after winning the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 17, 2012.

Letarte joined Hendrick Motorsports in 1995 at the age of 16 and worked on Gordon’s crew for all four of his championships.