8 Days until the Daytona 500

In Sprint Cup Series competition the #8 car has started 1,327 races and has 38 wins, 26 poles, 179 top 5s, 347 top 10s, and 382 DNFs.

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.  was “Driver #8” for 291 starts including 17 wins. Starting in 1999, Junior drove the Budweiser #8 in five Cup races. He finished in the top ten once and led one lap. 06 NASCAR Nextel Cup #8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS-Dale Earnhardt Jr.

In 2000, Earnhardt Jr. moved to the Winston Cup (Sprint Cup) Series on a full-time basis. Earnhardt, Jr. scored his first win in the DirecTV 500 at Texas  Motor Speedway, breaking the record held by his father Earnhardt, Sr. for fewest starts by a driver to earn his first victory in NASCAR’s “Modern Era” by winning in just his 12th start, and also at Richmond International Raceway. He became the first rookie to win the All-Star  exhibition race, though he finished runner-up to Matt Kenseth in the competition for NASCAR Rookie of the Year. In 2001, the major event of the season occurred on February 18, in the final corner of the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. As Earnhardt, Jr.pushed  his teammate Michael Waltrip to the finish line on the final lap, he finished 2nd, to Waltrip. His father had crashed in turn four after Sterling Marlin made contact with his left rear bumper. Earnhardt, Sr. shot up the track into the outside wall behind Waltrip and his son and collected Ken Schrader. Earnhardt, Sr. was killed instantly  in the crash by a basilar skull fracture.

 

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The 2001 Daytona 500

In the aftermath, many disgruntled fans sent death threats to Sterling Marlin  and his family, blaming him for the crash; Earnhardt, Jr. and Waltrip both requested that fans stopped blaming anybody for Dale, Sr.’s death and both the local police and NASCAR investigations into the crash cleared Marlin of any involvement. On July 7, 2001, Earnhardt Jr. won the Pepsi 400  at Daytona, the first Cup race at Daytona after Earnhardt, Sr.’s death. Using the #8, Earnhardt, Jr. set a record by winning four consecutive races at Talladega .

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Earnhardt Jr. & Sterling Marlin

 

On February 15, 2004, 6 years to the day after his father’s win, Earnhardt Jr. won the 2004 Daytona 500 . He won a further five races that season. Though he failed to qualify for the Chase Cup in 2005, he did in 2006 when he finished fifth. On Father’s Day in 2006, he drove a vintage Budweiser car  at Michigan International Speedway to honor both his grandfather (Ralph Earnhardt) and his father, who at one point in both their careers used the #8 car. On May 10, 2007, Earnhardt Jr. announced that he would not return to DEI for the 2008 season; on June 13, 2007, officially announced his move to Hendrick Motorsports ; and on August 16, 2007, that he would not retain the #8 car number.

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Earnhardt Jr., 2006

 

  • DEI announced that sponsored by the U.S. Army, #8 would be shared between Mark Martin  and Aric Almirola  for the 2008 season. Martin left DEI after the 2008 season to drive the #5 car for HMS. In 2009, the Army withdrew their support in favor of Ryan Newman’s #39 car at Stewart-Haas Racing.Almirola was engaged to drive the #8 Guitar Hero World Tour Chevrolet for the full 2009 season but the sponsorship lasted only five races. Following the 2009 Samsung/Radio Shack 500, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing announced that the operations of the #8 team were being suspended indefinitely due to a lack of sponsorship. Mark Martin made a total of 24 starts in the number; Almirola made 19.
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Mark Martin, 2008
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Aric Almirolla, 2009
  • Bobby Hillin Jr.  started 204 races in #8 from 1982-1990 with 1 win. Hillin made his debut in NASCAR Winston Cup Series competition at the age of 17, driving a car owned and sponsored by his family and crewed by Harry Hyde in the 1982 Northwestern Bank 400 at North Wilkesboro Speedway to a 21st place finish. Hillin moved to North Carolina to further his career, continuing his education through correspondence courses; he graduated from high school the day before the 1983 Coca-Cola World 600; in 1984 he brought his #8 to Stavola Brothers Racing , and in 1986 became the youngest winner in NASCAR’s “modern era” when he won the Talladega 500  for the team, at the age of 22 years, 1 month and 22 days. The record has since been broken, most recently by 19 year old Joey Logano in 2009. Hillin’s career started to take a downturn; he would later say he was not mature enough to deal with the pressures of being a NASCAR winner. He left the Stavola Brothers team after the 1990 season.
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Hillin Jr., 1984

 

  • Rick Wilson  drove for the team in 1991 with sponsorship from Snickers, and the team switched to a Ford Thunderbird after Buick pulled out of NASCAR. Wilson was released after the 1992 Daytona 500. Wilson made 30 starts in #8.
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Rick Wilson & Crew Chief Harry Hyde, 1991
  • After the release of Wilson, former Stavola Brothers Racing driver Dick Trickle  returned to the team to finish the 1992 season in #8. Trickle started 28 races in the number.
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Dick Trickle, 1992

 

  • For the 1993 season Sterling Marlin  drove the #8 car for the Stavola Brothers with new sponsor Raybestos, leaving the #12 Bobby Allison Racing team driven by Hut Stricklin. Ironically, Allison was a former driver for the Savola team, and Hut Stricklin would later drive the #8 for them. Marlin made 30 starts in the #8 earning 1 top 5 finish.”
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Sterling Marlin’s 1993 race car

 

  • Jeff Burton  took over driving duties of the Stavola #8 for the 1994 season. 1994 was Burton’s rookie year in the Winston Cup Series, and after five races he reached a season-high 14th place in the overall standings, but by the end of the year he dropped to 24th after being disqualified  at the Miller Genuine Draft 400 for illegal holes drilled on the roll cage, a safety violation. He had a season-high fourth place finish on the way to earning 1994 NASCAR Rookie of the Year. He was one of a record-high ten rookies eligible for the award that year, besting a class that included future Cup stars Joe Nemechek, Jeremy Mayfield, John Andretti, and older brother Ward. The next year, in 1995, Burton had one top-five, along with a ninth place finish. He also missed three races and finished 32nd in points. Jeff started a total of 58 races in the Stavola #8 before leaving to drive the #99 for Jack Roush.
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Jeff Burton, 1994

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  • Hut Stricklin  joined the Stavola Brothers Racing #8 Circuit City Ford in 1996. He had a second-place finish at Darlington Raceway, and ended up 22nd in points that year. In 1998, Stricklin went started driving the #8 car, but the team was forced to close midseason because of sponsorship woes. Stricklin started #8 in 66 races.
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Hut Stricklin, 1997
  • From 1967-1970 Kelso, Washington’s Ed Negre  started 282 races in #8.
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Ed Negre
  • “Little Joe” Weatherly  started the red Bud Moore #8 in 110 races from 1961-1964, about half of his career starts, earning 20 of his 25 career wins. He won two consecutive Grand National (Sprint Cup) Championships in 1962 and 1963 for Bud Moore Engineering. Moore did not have enough resources to run the full season, so Weatherly frequently “bummed a ride” from other teams. Weatherly died on January 19, 1964 from head injuries sustained in a racing accident at the fifth race of the 1964 season at Riverside International Raceway. His head went outside the car and struck a retaining wall, killing him instantly . Weatherly was not wearing a shoulder harness, and did not have a window net installed on his vehicle, because he was afraid of being trapped in a burning car. He, along with Alan Kulwicki 30 years later, died as the defending champion of the series. In 2015, Weatherly was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
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Weatherly, 1962

 

 

  • Gene Comstock  started the #8 car 22 times from 1952-1954.

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  • Billy Carden  started car #8 a total of 20 times from 1949-1955. Billy was the first person to race #8 in NASCAR Strictly Stock (Sprint Cup) Series at the 2nd event of the 1949 season on the Daytona Beach Course.
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Billy Carden

 

  • Other notable names in #8
    • Elmo Langley, 8 starts
    • Bill Rexford, 2 starts
    • Morgan Shepherd, 2 starts
    • Marvin Panch, 1 start
    • Buckshot Jones, 1 starts
    • Tiny Lund, 1 starts
    • James Hylton, 1 start
    • Wendell Scott, 1 start
    • Dale Earnhardt, 1 start
    • Ron Keselowski, 1 start

 

  • I think it is important to mention Ralph Earnhardt, the patriarch of the Earnhardt racing family. Earnhardt began racing in 1949, and in 1953 it became his full-time occupation. In 1956, he won the NASCAR Sportsman Championship (a lower division, similar to the modern day XFINITY Series), and was runner-up in 1955 and third in 1957. In 1967, he was the reigning South Carolina state champion, and track champion at Columbia Speedway and Greenville-Pickens Speedway. Ralph Earnhardt was the first car builder/driver to understand and use tire stagger. Though he started 51 career Cup Series races from 1956-1964, he never raced his iconic #8 in NASCAR’s top division, nor did he find victory lane in the series. In 1973, Earnhardt had a heart attack and died at the age of 45. Stories suggest that he was discovered dead in his garage by his 22 year old son Dale, but the truth is not known.
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Ralph Earnhardt

 

In Sprint Cup Series competition the #08 car has started 104 races and has 0 wins, 0 poles, 4 top 5s, 18 top 10s, and 47 DNFs.

Notable names in #08

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