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

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—80-99, 00-01, and a few extras

80Car number 80 has had its fair share of oddly-(nick)named drivers over the years, such as Neil “Soapy” Castles, “Tubby” Gonzales, and Hollingsworth “Worth” McMillions.

81—Joe Gibbs Racing’s plan to run car number 81 on a part-time basis in the 2013 Cup Series season ended after a single race when sponsor Alert Energy Gum was pulled from the market.

82—Red Bull Racing ran car number 82 for Scott Speed, who prior to his Nascar run was the last American to run a full-time Formula 1 schedule (before this season).

83—Red Bull Racing chose to run car number 83 since Red Bull’s classic “little can” is 8.3oz.

84—Dick Trickle ran car number 84 in 1989, when he became the oldest driver to win Nascar’s Cup Series Rookie of the Year award at age 48.

85—Both of Emanuel Zervakis’s Cup Series wins came in 1961 driving car number 85.

86—One of Buck Baker’s 46 career Cup Series wins was the lone Cup Series win for car number 86, occurring in 1961 at Hartsville (South Carolina) Speedway.

87—Ron Fellows nearly pulled off a massive upset at the 1999 Watkins Glen Cup race, bringing the part-time NEMCO car number 87 home in second place.

88—When Dale Earnhardt Jr. switched from the 8 car (DEI) to car number 88 (HMS) it was joked that he did so so fans with “8” tattoos could just add another 8 to them.

89—2005 would see longtime independent Morgan Shepherd lead his last laps, doing so in his self-owned car number 89 at Las Vegas.

90—Junie Donlavey campaigned car number 90 for decades, helping to launch the Cup careers of several drivers, posting its lone win in 1981 at Dover.

91—Tim Flock had a passenger with him when he won at Hickory Motor Speedway in 1953 in car number 91—a rhesus monkey dubbed “Jocko Flocko”.

92—Herb Thomas’s famed Fabulous Hudson Hornet (made famous again in the movie “Cars”) was car number 92.

93—Bill Davis Racing ran car number 93 for Dave Blaney to promote sponsor Amoco’s “Ultimate 93” octane gasoline.

94—Bill Elliott ran car number 94 in the Cup Series as a tribute to his late nephew Casey, who ran the number in several developmental series before succumbing to cancer.

95—Darrell Waltrip made his Nascar Cup Series debut in car number 95 at Talladega in 1972.

96—Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s first Cup Series top-ten occurred driving car number 96 at the 1978 summer Daytona race, finishing seventh.

97—Before being purchased by Roush Racing, car number 97 was co-owned by former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien.

98—Due to a sponsorship conflict between Coca-Cola and Mountain Dew, Bill Elliott Racing “returned” to Cup competition in 2004, fielding car number 98 for Elliott in three races.

99—Running car number 99 Carl Edwards posted a tenth-place finish in his first Cup Series start, at Michigan in 2004.

00—David Reutimann raced car number 00 in Cup as part of a family tradition, as various Reutimanns had raced the number throughout various east coast series through the decades.

01—MB2 chose to run car number 01 to promote sponsor the US Army’s “An Army of One” slogan.

02—Ryan Newman’s first career Cup Series pole came in car number 02 at Charlotte in 2001.

03—Richard Brickhouse, better-known as the driver to win the boycott-marred inaugural Cup Series race at Talladega, campaigned car number 03 throughout 1968-69.

04—Longtime single-car team Morgan-McClure Motorsports managed to qualify a second car—car number 04—three times: once with Johnny Miller and twice with Eric McClure.

05—The most-recent attempt to run car number 05 never came to fruition—a scheme devised by Loren Fossie and Greg Sacks to run a fan-sponsored car in 2002.

06—Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough’s first win in what is now the Cup Series came in car number 06 in 1965 at Valdosta Georgia.

07—The Jack Daniels-sponsored cars of RCR always ran car number 07, a reference to Jack Daniels’ “Old No. 7” marking on every bottle.

08—Terry Labonte—arguably best-known for his time in the 5 car—made five starts in car number 08 for Carter-Simo Racing in 2009.

09—Brad Keselowski’s thrilling Talladega win in 2009 was the first—and only—Cup win for car number 09 and for car owner James Finch.


—Nascar famously does NOT retire car numbers, with one exception, having (unofficially) retired car number 61 in the Whelen Modified Tour in honor of the late Richie Evans.

—Although today all car numbers must be single or double-digit, triple-digit numbers were occasionally seen in the sport’s early days, such as the Wood Brothers car number 121 raced by Dan Gurney.

—Carl Kiekhaefer didn’t just run three-digit numbered cars in the 1950s—he ran them with letters too!  Buck Baker won races in 1956 for Kiekhaefer in cars numbered 500B and 300C.

—Prior to this season, Jimmie Johnson has run every single Cup Series points race of his career in car number 48.  The lone exception was a 2011 All Star Race appearance in car number 5 as part of a sponsorship promotion.

Car number 43 has the most Cup Series starts, with 2205 as of the start of the 2023 Cup Series season.

—From 1985-86 the Wood Brothers didn’t campaign their iconic 21 Ford, instead running car number 7 as part of a sponsorship deal with 7-Eleven.  Former Wood Brothers driver David Pearson ran car number 21 part-time those two years, but in an unrelated entry.

—In the sport’s earlier days numbers that looked the same upside down as right-side up (example: car number 11, 88, etc.) were considered unlucky.

—Before he was a Cup team co-owner Brad Daugherty was an NBA basketball player, wearing uniform number 43 for the Cleveland Cavaliers as a tribute to Richard Petty.

—When Fifth Third Bank entered the sport as a primary sponsor, it was joked that they chose car number 17 to sponsor because five divided by three equalled 1.7.

—Petty Enterprises renumbered their famed 43 car to car number 44 for 1993, the first year after Richard Petty’s retirement as a driver.

—Jeff Gordon was planned to race car number 46 in the Cup Series, but chose not to due to possible copyright issues with “Days of Thunder”.  Apparently they chose 24 as it was the lowest number with no particular history attached to it. 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