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Thursday, April 16, 2009

First the #28, now the #8. It’s been a bad year for famous numbers in NASCAR

First the #28 stopped running due to lack of sponsorship, now the #8 won’t be on the track for the same reason.

If anyone didn’t already know that this economy has turned the NASCAR world for a loop, the fact that these cars aren’t on the track is all the proof they need.

Let’s take the #8 car first.

Not too long ago, there was a bitter battle over the number between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his favorite nemesis, stepmom Teresa Earnhardt, about whether he could take the number with him to Hendrick Motorsports.

Stepmom won that battle, refusing to let Jr. keep the car number he had used since his entry into the Cup series, a number his grandfather has used and the number his father used in his Cup debut.

Less than two years later, it’s amazing how much has changed. First, DEI shut down two of its teams (#15 and #01), then merged with Ganassi Racing. Now, only the #1 car is still running, and all that fighting over the #8 seems pretty pointless because it’s not even on the track anymore.

This comes on the heels of the #28 team ceasing operation despite the best efforts of Yates Racing. Davey Allison, one of the greatest NASCAR drivers ever despite a career shortened by a tragic death, rocketed the Yates team to stardom in his short time in Cup.

The #28 has a storied history in NASCAR. Though Davey’s success is most remembered, Ernie Irvan had some great runs in the car (and almost died while driving it after a terrible crash at Michigan Speedway).
Others who have driven the car are Ricky Rudd and the late Kenny Irwin Jr. Prior to Davey‘s turn in the car, Cale Yarborough had a stint driving the #28 Hardee‘s car.

Last year, Yates put together what seemed like two dozen different sponsorship deals and was able to keep the team running all year. This year, that was not to be … and the team became another casualty of the economy.

So Travis Kvapil and Aric Almirola are on the sidelines for now, many team members are out of a job, and two numbers with a lot of history are not on the track.

Some would say they’re just numbers, and I almost agree with them.
But for some reason, it just seems strange to me not seeing the #28 and #8 cars on the track.

In this economy, though, history means nothing.

If the money’s not there, the team’s not there.


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