The Numbers Game: A 3 Part Journey Through Nascar Cup’s Car Numbers. PART 1

You can’t run a race without a car number, and Nascar’s had plenty of them—every numeral from 0-99 (plus a few more) has run at least 90 Cup Series races.  Here’s a fun (or not-so-fun) fact about every car number available to run.

PART 1—0-39

0—Independent racer Delma Cowart joked that he used car number 0 because it matched his chances of winning a race.

1—Dale Earnhardt Inc. debuted full-time with car number 1 as part of a promotion with sponsor Pennzoil, which was the #1 motor oil brand in the US at that time.

2—The relationship between MolsonCoors (formerly SABMiller) and the car number 2 Roger Penske-owned entry is the longest such active sponsor-team-car number relationship, going back to 1991.

3—Richard Childress chose to run car number 3 for two reasons: as a tribute to Junior Johnson, and because it required less paint than other available two-digit numbers.

4—Sterling Marlin won the first race of his Cup career in his first-ever time in the Morgan-McClure car number 4, the 1994 Daytona 500.

5Car number 5 was the inaugural Nascar entry for Rick Hendrick, albeit under the name “All Star Racing”, in 1984.

6—While best-known for its time as a Jack Roush-helmed entry, car number 6’s lone championship came with team owner Cotton Owens and driver David Pearson in 1966.

7—Is number 7 a lucky number?  Not in Cup—no driver has won a race in car number 7 since Geoff Bodine in 1996.

8—Team owners can’t “own” a car number, but they CAN own the font and presentation of it.  That’s why Richard Childress’ car number 8’s appearance looks so different from the Dale Earnhardt Inc. number style from the early-00’s.

9—Bill Elliott’s win in the 1991 summer Daytona race wasn’t just the last Cup win for Melling Racing. which famously fielded car number 9 for most of its existence—it was the only win of Elliott’s career in a non-red car.

10—Despite more than 1400 starts going back to 1949, the first driver to win a Cup race in car number 10 was Greg Sacks’ upset summer Daytona win in the summer of 1985.

11—11 is the winningest number in Nascar Cup competition—car number 11 has claimed the checkered flag in 228 races.

12—Three members of the vaunted Alabama Gang have raced car number 12 in Cup competition—Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison, and Neil Bonnett.

13—Is 13 an unlucky number?  Judge for yourself—the only time car number 13 has won in Cup was a Daytona qualifying race in 1963, driven by Johnny Rutherford.

14—Tony Stewart chose to run car number 14 in honor of his racing hero, AJ Foyt.

15—When DEI introduced Cup car number 15 in 2001, it kept things in line, having introduced car 1 first, then car 8, and finally car 15—each number is seven apart from the other.

16—Before making his name as a car owner, Glen Wood (of the Wood Brothers) raced car number 16 to three Cup Series wins in 1960.

17—All 72 of car number 17’s Cup Series wins have come for just three teams—Holman-Moody, Darrell Waltrip Motorsports, and Roush/RFR/RFK Racing.

18—Barring an unexpected change of plans, car number 18 will be the only number between 1-24 not to be run at all this season in Nascar Cup competition.

19—Herman “Turtle” Beam—best known for his 84-race streak without a DNF—raced all 194 of his Cup Series starts in car number 19.

20—Tony Stewart won three races in his rookie season in Cup, winning at Richmond, Phoenix, and Homestead in car number 20 for Joe Gibbs Racing.

21—The Wood Brothers have posted at least one Cup Series win in car number 21 in every single decade from the 1950s through to the 2010s.

22—Chuck Stevenson only entered two races in his Cup career, but he picked up a win in one of them, driving car number 22 to victory in the 1956 Willow Springs Raceway race.

23—In addition to being team co-owner Michael Jordan’s most-famous jersey number, 23XI Racing runs car number 23 for sponsor Dr. Pepper, who advertises “23 flavors” in its soda.

24—Jeff Gordon has made the most starts in car number 24, but who’s made the second-most?  Cecil Gordon—no relation—an independent driver from the 1970s.

25—Mark Martin—who usually ran the 5 car for Hendrick Motorsports—ran a one-off tribute paint scheme to Tim Richmond in the 2011 All Star race, complete with car number 25.

26—Due to Nascar implementing a four-car limit in the Cup Series, Jack Roush was forced to sell car number 26 after the 2009, with the new team taking the car number to start Latitude 43 Racing.

27—In 1997 David Blair Motorsports’ car number 27 ran the Brickyard 400 with sponsorship from the Indianapolis Colts NFL franchise.

28—When Havoline switched teams from Robert Yates Racing to Chip Ganassi Racing, it was decided that car number 28 would be deactivated for a spell, and as a result did not run in Cup from 2003-2007.

29—For a good portion of his time in car number 29, Kevin Harvick’s “jack spot” decal made it look like it was car number 2.9—as in, close to 3.

30—Bahari Racing’s 1999 entry was the first to feature rotating primary sponsors, as car number 30 featured one of four Sara Lee brands each race weekend.

31—The Cup Series’s infamous debut at Talladega in 1969—one that saw a boycott by virtually every “name” driver and team—would see independent Jim Vandiver come home a career-best second in car number 31.

32—Ricky Craven’s famous 0.002 second margin of victory win over Kurt Busch at Darlington in 2003—in car number 32—was the last Cup win for Pontiac.

33—Harry Gant won all four September Cup Series races in 1991 in car number 33, earning him the nickname “Mr. September”.

34—Wendell Scott’s car number 34 was raced by, owned by, and tuned by Wendell Scott—he famously listed “Mechanic: Me” on the side of the car.

35—In 1987, the Hendrick Motorsports 25 car was temporarily re-numbered car number 35, with the 25 being used part-time for previous driver Tim Richmond.

36—Mars, Inc.’s lengthy (and recently concluded) Cup Series primary sponsorship began in 1997, with Skittles sponsoring car number 36 of MB2 Racing.

37—In 1996 Kranefuss-Haas experimented with adapting the Lincoln Mark VIII body for racing, however the Lincoln car number 37 never got past the testing stages.

38—Front Row Motorsports’ car number 38 frequently features in-house sponsorship from various restaurants and the MDS trucking company, all owned by team owner Bob Jenkins.

39—Stewart-Haas Racing originally wanted to run the #4 for Ryan Newman (to match Tony Stewart’s #14), but complaints from Morgan-McClure Motorsports saw them instead use car number 39, Newman’s former midget number. updated four times weekly

Visit the store

Buy the book 100 Stock Car Racing What Ifs Unauthorized

Does this track have lights?

A MOXOC Media production