New meets old: Daniel Hemric to pilot No. 8 Chevrolet for RCR
WELCOME, N.C. — The No. 8 is coming back full time to NASCAR’s top division. Fittingly, a native of Kannapolis, North Carolina, is giving it a ride.
Richard Childress Racing announced Friday that rookie Daniel Hemric will pilot the No. 8 Chevrolet in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series next season. The number shifts from the No. 31 that the organization had fielded full time since expanding to a two-car operation for the 1997 season. The news broke Friday at a kickoff event ahead of RCR’s 50th anniversary season in 2019.
The organization also unveiled two special gold car designs for Hemric’s No. 8 and teammate Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet for the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17.
Fresh gold look for the @DanielHemric No. 8 for the Daytona 500. #RCR50 #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/dg5hy9Iw3a
— Zack Albert (@zack_albert) December 14, 2018
RELATED: Other drivers of No. 8
Childress announced Hemric as Ryan Newman’s replacement Sept. 28 — and confirmed Friday that Luke Lambert would stay on as crew chief. At the news conference, the 73-year-old team owner said discussions had taken place and that he was open to changing the car number.
The number has long been associated with the Earnhardt family, which has deep ties to the Kannapolis community that Hemric also calls home. Dale Earnhardt Jr. broke into NASCAR’s top series with the No. 8, and his father and grandfather had used the number in several different racing series.
Hemric brought back the No. 8 for his first two Monster Energy Series starts in 2018. Before that, it was last used by Aric Almirola at the beginning of the 2009 season, when Dale Earnhardt Inc. merged with Chip Ganassi Racing.
Further back still, the number was used for years by the Stavola Brothers operation and before that by driver/owner Ed Negre. It was a Negre-owned No. 8 Dodge that famously gave Dale Earnhardt Sr. his first-ever Cup Series start at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1975.
Childress said he had held the rights to the number for a handful of recent years, asking Earnhardt Jr. and his sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, for their blessing. “We thought it was a perfect fit — him from Kannapolis, and putting the No. 8 with him,” Childress said last September before Hemric’s appearance at the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course.
This story will be updated.
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