The Racing Experts Profile:
Dr. Jerry Punch
By Jonathan Fjeld, TRE Lead Reporter
Jerry Punch's 37 year announcing career actually did not start off as being an announcer. He started out racing with his family and working on cars for many years. In college and medical school, he realized racing was becoming too dangerous and decided to step out of the driver's seat. He would later get a job with the racetrack.
Punch would get the opportunity to go up to the booth with track promoter, Ned Jarrett, and call a few laps with him. From there, he would work at the track and announce over the PA system. It would later lead him to do announcing over the radio and soon to ESPN, where he still works to this day.
"At ESPN, we were like family. We spent more time together than our immediate families. We were close personally, off the track. And we went out to dinner with each other and we were passionate about the sport. It was a passion and not a job. We were all fans of the sport."
Punch recalled during the interview the 1999 season, when ESPN lost the NASCAR TV contract to NBC/TNT & FOX/FX, much to many fans' displeasure. They would end coverage of Winston Cup and Busch races at the end of 2000. Punch stayed with the network and was named the lap-by-lap announcer when ESPN returned to NASCAR coverage in 2007.
In 2009, ESPN decided to move Punch back to pit row and take over the position of lead pit reporter he held back in the 80s & 90s.
"I felt we were just getting comfortable and I guess they decided to move me down to pit row. It's like in NASCAR when they switch crew chiefs around, it's to make the team even stronger."
Just this past year, Punch had an incident with Kurt Busch. He stated in the interview that "it was not directed towards him". Soon afterwards, Punch and Busch talked it over and resolved their differences.
Over the years, Jerry Punch has done great things in his career. His career could somewhat be summed up by a motto on a plaque at his home his wife hung up on back of their house. The motto? "Bloom where you are planted." Punch said in the interview, "I have tried to do that in whatever I've done in my career" It has shown as he was, and continues to be, a well-respected and talented pit reporter in the NASCAR business.