Richard Childress Racing is bringing the No. 8 Chevrolet back to Cup competition for Daniel Hemric’s rookie season, moving away from the No. 31.
RCR made the announcement Friday morning during a celebration of its upcoming 50th anniversary season. Hemric, who is replacing Ryan Newman, will compete for Rookie of the Year honors with a number he has always admired.
“Growing up in Kannapolis, it was all about racing,” Hemric said in a team release. “I always dreamed of having the opportunity to drive for RCR and for Richard himself. Now, two iconic numbers, the 3 and the 8, are going to be under one roof. I know it makes Richard happier than anybody, just understanding what that means for the sport of NASCAR and how our fans are going to be able to connect with that.”
Childress picked out the style for the new incarnation of the 8, which was driven by Ralph Earnhardt on short tracks in the 1950s. Dale Earnhardt, who would drive and win championships for Childress, made his NASCAR debut in the No. 8. Dale Earnhardt Jr. further made the number famous from 1999-2007.
The Earnhardts and Hemric all hail from Kannapolis, North Carolina.
Hemric drove the No. 8 in his two Cup Series starts in 2018 at Richmond (in April) and Charlotte (in September).
“We [ran] it twice this year with a different style and I said, well, what style do you want to bring back? This style eight is so famous in so many sports,” Childress said. “Baseball. Football. All over the place. I seen it on horse racing. I said that’s the eight that I want to bring back. Then I when I seen NASCAR using this style, I said this is the eight we want to bring back.”
Childress also revealed he’s had the rights to the number for a few years as it was initially going to be for one of his grandsons, Ty Dillon. However, Dillon moved into the Cup Series with Germain Racing in 2017.
“It’s a perfect fitting,” Childress said of the number ending up with Hemric. “Dale Jr. was his hero back in the day and for him to be able to drive in the eight that is also iconic for the Kannapolis area, that says a lot. He’s excited.”
Also announced Friday were the partners for Hemric’s car. Caterpillar and Liberty National, who had sponsored Newman’s No. 31, are returning to the team, as are VF Workwear and Bass Pro Shops. Cessna will join RCR for the 2019 season.