Dale Earnhardt Jr., whose Budweiser ride has long been iconic among NASCAR fans, will have to surrender the number 8 under the terms of a new team contract. The racer, who's leaving his father's Dale Earnhardt, Inc., to replace Kyle Busch at Hendrick Motorsports, will also strip the Budweiser paint-job in a sponsorship move.
Earnhardt's new team was unable to save the digit despite Earnhardt's "tremendous history" with the number and its importance to fans, said Hendrick GM Marshall Carlson. The racer has driven No. 8 to all 22 of his career checkered flags. Earnhardt says he's now pushing for No. 81, which he's used in several Busch Series races.