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The 10 most iconic car numbers in NASCAR history


The 10 most iconic car numbers in NASCAR history

In search of No. 1 … in NASAR iconic car numbers.

Here’s a hint: It’s not No. 1.

In thinking of the most iconic numbers, thoughts ranged from how recognizable the number is to the number of wins to the famous drivers who wheeled those cars.

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So, here is one person’s view of the 10 most iconic numbers in NASCAR:

10. No. 8

Joe Weatherly won 20 races in a No. 8 car for owner Bud Moore, but only one driver has a book that is titled “Driver No. 8” and that’s Dale Earnhardt Jr., who won 17 times with that number. Although he changed numbers after leaving for Hendrick Motorsports, he is still identified with the No. 8 more than anything else. His other number was …

9. No. 88

This was Earnhardt’s number for his last 10 seasons, but this number has storied history with Buck Baker, Darrell Waltrip and Dale Jarrett. This number has a serious resume with DiGard Racing, Robert Yates Racing and Hendrick Motorsports.

8. No. 6

Mark Martin won 35 times with this number that was a staple at Roush Racing, but has a lengthy history with Marshall Teague and Cotton Owens as owners and drivers. David Pearson (driving for Owens) won with it 27 times, three fewer than his number of wins in the …

7. No. 17

Pearson won 30 times with this number driving for Holman-Moody and Darrell Waltrip won 15 times with it as a driver/owner. But just as many people currently know the No. 6 as a Roush number, this No. 17 is most recently connected with Roush. And for good reason – Matt Kenseth won 24 times in a No. 17 car.

6. No. 11

The car number with the most wins at 218. Cale Yarborough (55), Ned Jarrett (49), Darrell Waltrip (43), Denny Hamlin (38) all made serious noise in the No. 11 car, whose first win came with Parnelli Jones and then the next 11 with Junior Johnson. Mario Andretti and A.J. Foyt also won in a No. 11.

5. No. 2

The iconic No. 2 Miller schemes elevated this number. Oh, and Dale Earnhardt won the first of his seven titles in the No. 2 car.

4. No. 24

This is the only number on this list that had only one driver who won. Some guy named Jeff Gordon.

3. No. 21

The Wood Brothers No. 21 car has seen 18 different drivers win races. David Pearson has the most at 43. There is just something about the 21 and its font and the red-and-white scheme that oozes NASCAR history.

2. No. 43

The Petty Blue and No. 43 is synonymous with NASCAR. Richard Petty won 194 races in this car number, which has 199 wins total.

1. No. 3

Some might argue that the 43 is more iconic, but the angled No. 3 seems to have a way that stirs peoples emotions and signifies a “don’t mess with me” aura. Dale Earnhardt won 67 races and six championships driving the No. 3.

This was my list, but fans had their own thoughts. I’ve taken some of the responses from Twitter and am answering them:

This is not a list of the most successful car numbers. It is a list of what I consider iconic, which I would interpret as meaning when you see it, it stirs both memories and emotions. Jimmie Johnson is arguably the best driver this sport has ever seen. But he just did not stir the emotions. Maybe it’s because Johnson is still racing and in 10-15 years, the 48 could very well be on my list. Not yet. In fact, I would probably put another number ahead of it …

The 28 was the first one left off the list with its great history – Fred Lorenzen, Davey Allison, Buddy Baker, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, Ernie Irvan, Dale Jarrett, Ricky Rudd and Dan Gurney all won in the 28. It had 76 wins among those drivers. But the fact it hasn’t been used since 2009 kept it off the list in my mind.

The 18 is interesting. I thought about it a little bit but not a ton and maybe it is the same issue as the 48 – its success is just too recent. The 18’s first wins came during the 1990s and the 24 was the flashy, new kid when it came to numbers.

Maybe it is because I started following NASCAR in 1992, and so my first good memories of Bill Elliott are in the 11 (and then the 94) and not the 9 that he ran up until 1991 (and then again in his last few years). It is a number that has history, but for me, it just wasn’t enough to make the list.

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