Friday, September 14, 2007
Sources: Dale Jr. to race in No. 88 car next season
By David Newton ESPN.com
LOUDON, N.H. -- Fans who liked watching Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 8 since he moved to the Nextel Cup series eight years ago will double their pleasure in 2008.
Earnhardt will drive two stylized 8s next season for Hendrick Motorsports, sources told ESPN.com on Friday.
Adding an 8: Dale Earnhardt Jr. is expected to drive the No. 88 car next season.
Robert Yates Racing, sources said, has agreed to sell the No. 88 that Dale Jarrett drove to the 1999 championship.
The car, which sources said will be sponsored by Mountain Dew and the Amp energy drink, will be revealed for the first time at a Wednesday press conference in Dallas.
Earnhardt, who owns a Busch Series car with the No. 88, would not confirm the report.
"Everybody will have to wait 'till Wednesday," he said. "We looked at a lot of different options and we have a lot of different trademarks. People are pretty familiar with what we're looking at as far as that goes."
Earnhardt had hoped the No. 8 would follow him from Dale Earnhardt Inc. to HMS. But when he couldn't reach a deal with stepmother/team owner Teresa Earnhardt, he began exploring other options.
As many as seven numbers were considered, most of them containing an 8.
"It's going to be a lot of fun to really see the reaction of the fans and I hope that they really enjoy what we're going to do," Earnhardt said. "We've been having a lot of fun with design and with the approach and sort of forming what our identity is going to be on the race track and off the track.
"It's going to be lots and lots of work. The hardest part is not changing anything you do personally about your personality or your mannerisms or anything and trying to get them to understand that that's who you are."
NASCAR's most popular driver isn't surprised by the amount of attention his number change has gotten among fans.
"It's a big deal," he said. "It's a really big deal. I don't know how to gauge the level of attention or compare it to anything else. But it's a pretty big deal for us.
"I'm super excited about it. I want to see changeable painted decaled racecars, and it's really going to sink in. It's sort of like waiting on Christmas."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.