2019 will mark the 50-year anniversary of Richard Childress Racing. In addition to special paint schemes for the season-opening Daytona 500, Daniel Hemric will be driving a “new” number for the team as what was initially the #31 will become the #8. The team made the announcement Friday.
“Who would have thought that a $20 investment more than 50 years ago would have grown into the organization that RCR is today,” team owner Richard Childress stated.
In September, Hemric was announced as Ryan Newman‘s replacement in the #31 car. The Xfinity Series veteran made his Monster Energy Cup Series debut in April at Richmond Raceway, driving a part-time #8 car. In his two 2018 races at Richmond and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, he finished thirty-second and twenty-third.
The number was used by Ralph Earnhardt during the 1950s and son Dale Earnhardt at the start of his Cup career. At the turn of the century, it was made popular by Dale Earnhardt Jr. during his time with Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
With the switch to #8, RCR will field both it and the #3 for Austin Dillon. Both numbers hold sentimental value for the team and the Earnhardt family, with Dale Sr. being synonymous with #3. In a tweet from Kelly Crandall, Childress wanted to give #8 to grandson and Austin’s brother Ty before he joined Germain Racing.
“Growing up in Kannapolis, it was all about racing,” Hemric said. “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.”
“Car numbers are a big part of NASCAR and it makes me proud to have two of the most historic of those numbers under the RCR banner for our 50th anniversary season,” Childress added. “With his Kannapolis roots and his old-school racer mentality, Daniel Hemric is the perfect choice to bring the #8 back to the Cup Series on a full-time basis. He has demonstrated that he has what it takes to be a contender on the racetrack, and we are looking forward to the next step in his career.”
Caterpillar, a longtime sponsor of the #31, will remain with the #8 team, as will Bass Pro Shops, Liberty National Life Insurance, and VF Workwear. The #8 car also gains a new sponsor in plane manufacturer Cessna, which has recently been the sponsor for the #1 Chip Ganassi Racing car of Jamie McMurray.
As part of the celebration, Hemric and Dillon will drive gold paint schemes at the Daytona 500, a tribute to the gold Bass Pro Shops car driven by Earnhardt at the 1998 Winston (now Monster Energy All-Star Race). Dillon will also drive the car at the Advance Auto Parts Clash.