Ever wonder why certain teams/drivers use certain car numbers? Well, its always been a bit of a pet project of mine to find out why. Here's a list of Cup regulars and, if I know, why they run the number they do. A "continuation" means that a number was picked based off of a team's pre-existing number (for instance, 6 led to the 16, 24 led to the 48, etc.) If I couldn't find out the reason behind a number, I left it blank (feel free to help fill in the blanks on FACEBOOK).
A special thanks to the Pocono Record for THIS informative article.
1 Jamie McMurray--When Dale Earnhardt started this team (as DEI), he swapped numbers with Richard Jackson, supposedly because sponsor Pennzoil was the #1-selling motor oil at the time.
2 Brad Keselowki--?
5 Kasey Kahne--?
9 Marcos Ambrose--Chosen by Ray Evernham when he launched his Dodge team with Bill Elliott--Elliott had driven the #9 during his glory days with Melling Racing.
10 Danica Patrick/David Reutimann--This was Danica's number when she first started racing.
11 Denny Hamlin--Team executive J.D. Gibbs wore this number while on the William & Mary football team.
13 Casey Mears--?
14 Tony Stewart--Picked to honor Tony's hero, A.J. Foyt.
15 Clint Bowyer--Another number courtesy of Dale Earnhardt Sr. When Dale Sr. started up his third Cup team with DEI, he chose #15 to honor the recently retired Bud Moore (who Dale drove for in the 80's). Michael Waltrip had his best years in the #15, so he reused it with his own team.
16 Greg Biffle--A "continuation" from Jack Roush's first team, the now-inactive #6.
17 Matt Kenseth--Another "continuation", this time from the #16.
18 Kyle Busch--Supposedly picked by Gibbs' first driver, Dale Jarrett, as it was his number (for another team) in his rookie season.
20 Joey Logano--?
22 Sam Hornish Jr.--A "continuation" from Penske's first team, the #2.
24 Jeff Gordon--A "continuation" from Rick Hendrick's second Cup team, the #25 (itself a "continuation" from Hendrick's first team, the #5).
27 Paul Menard--A "continuation" from RCR's first team, the #29 (formerly the #3).
29 Kevin Harvick--After Dale Earnhardt Sr. died, Richard Childress put Kevin Harvick in the car. Rather then run the famous black #3, Harvick and Childress decided to run a white #29. Early on, a small piece of tape was placed between the 2 & 9 ("2.9").
31 Jeff Burton--A "continuation" from RCR's famous #3.
32 Ken Schrader et al--?
33 Stephen Leicht--A "continuation" from RCR's famous #3 (Joe Falk bought the team from Richard Childress).
36 Dave Blaney--?
39 Ryan Newman--This was Ryan's first number when he started racing.
42 Juan Pablo Montoya--When this team was started by Felix Sabates, his first driver was Kyle Petty. He selected the #42 as a tribute to his grandfather, Lee Petty.
43 Aric Amirola--Team owner Richard Petty drove the #43 for decades, as a "continuation" of his father's #42.
47 Bobby Labonte--?
48 Jimmie Johnson--A unique "continuation", as 48 is 24 doubled. Jeff Gordon (driver of the #24) co-owns this team with Rick Hendrick.
51 Kurt Busch--?
55 Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip & Brian Vickers--In honor of sponsor Aaron's, which was started in 1955.
56 Martin Truex Jr.--A "continuation" of the #55 car.
78 Regan Smith--?
83 Landon Cassill--The team was started by Red Bull, which sells its product in 8.3 ounce cans.
87 Joe Nemechek--Joe has used this number since his youth.
88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.--When Dale Jr. started in Cup with DEI, he drove the #8 in honor of his grandfather, Ralph Earnhardt. After Dale Jr. left DEI, he simply added another 8 to make it "88".
93 Travis Kvapil--A "continuation" from Red Bull's other car, the #83.
98 Michael McDowell--Mike Curb's Curb Records is an associate sponsor on this car (and a minority owner). Curb-affiliated cars have frequently run the #98, more often in open-wheel races.
99 Carl Edwards--?
INTERESTING NUMBERS--These numbers aren't run full-time anymore, but still had some great stories to share.
00 David Reutimann--Was run to honor David's father, Buzzie, who got the idea for the number from HIS father (who apparently looked at Buzzie's first car, a jalopy, and derisively said it looked like a zero).
01 US Army--A reference to the Army's slogan at the time, "An Army of One." The actual #1 was unavailable at the time.
07 Jack Daniels--Jack Daniels whiskey is nicknamed "Old No.7". The actual #7 was unavailable at the time.
3 Richard Childress--Richard Childress started out as an "Independent" owner/driver (meaning he ran with little or no factory or sponsorship support). He chose the #3 to honor his hero, Junior Johnson.
7 Robby Gordon--As the last owner/driver without outside investment, Robby chose this number in memory of Alan Kulwicki, the last "true" owner/driver to win a championship.
13 Dan Marino--When Bill Elliott's team expanded to a second full-time ride (originally driven by Jerry Nadeau), Dan Marino was brought on as a part-owner. Thus, the team used Marino's number with the Miami Dolphins, #13.
42, 43, 44, 45 The Petty Family--Lee (the oldest) drove the #42 (which he supposedly chose from a license plate), Richard (Lee's son) drove the #43, Kyle (Richard's son) drove the #44 after returning to Petty Enterprises, and Adam (Kyle's son) drove the #45. After Adam's death, Kyle ran the #45 as a tribute to his son.
50 Budweiser--The Hendrick Motorsports #25 was rebranded the #50 (driven by Ricky Craven) for Nascar's 50th season.
66 Phillips 66--When Phillips 66 was a sponsor, they used the #66 on their cars, making them one of the few sponsors to have their company's name on the doors.
83 Lake Speed--When Lake Speed started up his own race team at the Cup level, he chose #83 in honor of the year he became a born-again Christian.