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HomeNASCAR NewsNASCAR Number Game: Unveiling Car Identities and Sporting Legacies

NASCAR Number Game: Unveiling Car Identities and Sporting Legacies

NASCAR Number Game: NASCAR numbers aren’t merely digits on cars; they’re symbols woven into the sport’s fabric, encapsulating team identities and driver legacies. But who claims ownership over these revered numbers in the NASCAR realm, and how do they get divvied up among teams?

Despite fans’ perpetual association of certain numbers with specific drivers or teams, like the iconic No. 3 linked to Dale Earnhardt or Richard Childress Racing, it’s not the drivers, teams, or sponsors who possess the rights to these car numbers. Instead, NASCAR retains ownership of each number.

In the world of NASCAR racing, each number is owned by the series itself, licensed annually for car identification. Teams can request particular numbers, yet it’s NASCAR’s call on which driver or team gets to sport which number.

The process behind licensing NASCAR numbers involves teams filing requests each year with the sanctioning body. Based on these requests, NASCAR licenses out the numbers. When multiple teams desire the same number, the team that lodged the request first usually secures it, as per reports.

Moreover, as NASCAR holds the rights to these numbers, teams aren’t permitted to transfer them to other teams.

A recent significant shift in car numbers emerged with Kyle Busch’s transition. Formerly identified as No. 18 with Joe Gibbs Racing from 2008 to 2022, Busch’s car now sports the No. 8 with Richard Childress Racing in the 2023 season, confirmed by NASCAR.

The recent history of No. 8 in NASCAR exemplifies how specific numbers’ usage evolves over time, pivoting based on licensing granted to different teams. The No. 8 gained prominence through Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Dale Earnhardt Inc., with Earnhardt Jr. departing for Hendrick Motorsports in 2008 and adopting No. 88. This number later found fame with Mark Martin post-Earnhardt Jr.’s departure from the team.

The return of the No. 8 to NASCAR’s top series in 2018 marked Richard Childress Racing obtaining its license. Since then, the No. 8 has adorned RCR cars in the Cup Series, including Kyle Busch’s car from the 2023 season onward.

NASCAR Number Game (2)

In NASCAR’s bygone days, triple-digit numbers existed, such as Dan Gurney’s victory at California’s Riverside International Raceway in January 1968 with the No. 121. However, the sport’s top series no longer features triple-digit numbers.

Certain numbers forge everlasting ties with drivers and teams. Richard Petty, NASCAR’s most triumphant driver, conquered 192 out of his 200 wins driving No. 43. Similarly, while No. 3 remains synonymous with Dale Earnhardt, it now graces Austin Dillon’s car under Richard Childress, the former owner of Earnhardt’s car pre-2001 Daytona 500.

Other noteworthy driver-number bonds include Jeff Gordon with No. 24, Jimmie Johnson with No. 48, Bill and Chase Elliott with No. 9, and the Wood Brothers racing team’s No. 21.

NASCAR’s Hall of Fame heralds No. 11 as the most victorious number in the sport’s top division. The No. 11 car boasts 231 wins in NASCAR’s premier series, marking victories from Cale Yarbrough, Ned Jarrett, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Bill Elliott, Terry Labonte, Buddy Baker, and Denny Hamlin.

ALSO READ: Richard Childress Racing: Turmoil, Triumphs, and Team Dynamics

Our Reader’s Queries

NASCAR Number Game

Typically, car numbers are allocated according to a team’s owner points from the previous season. The top 35 teams in owner points are assured a starting position in every race, and they can choose to retain their car number from the previous season.

How do you get a NASCAR number?

The Whelen Modified Tour is the only NASCAR series to have an unofficially retired number. Number 61 was retired in memory of Richie Evans after his passing in 1985. Additionally, NASCAR paid tribute to Dale Earnhardt Sr. by unofficially retiring the number 3 after his tragic death during the 2001 Daytona 500.

Did number 3 get retired in NASCAR?

Bubba Wallace made a remarkable debut in 2021, driving the No. 23 Toyota to victory at Talladega Superspeedway. He also secured three top 5 and three top 10 finishes. The team has now expanded to two cars in 2022, with Kurt Busch taking the wheel of the No. 45 Toyota.

Is there a number 23 in NASCAR?

The No. 3 car proved to be a winning machine for Earnhardt, who secured 67 of his 76 career victories in it. This impressive feat has made the No. 3 the third most successful car number in NASCAR history, with a total of 97 wins. While three-digit numbers were once allowed, current cars now only use two digits.

Khushal Bhatia
Khushal Bhatia
Khushal Bhatia, a distinguished BA (Hons) English graduate from St. Stephen College (University of Delhi) and a holder of a Post Graduate Diploma in Journalism (English) from IIMC Delhi, is an accomplished journalist. Currently affiliated with, Khushal is an expert in covering a range of sports topics with a specialization in motorsports, particularly NASCAR. His insightful articles explore the nuances of the sporting world, providing readers with comprehensive analysis and the latest updates. With a commitment to unbiased reporting, Khushal's expertise and authoritative voice make him a reliable source for sports enthusiasts.


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