Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s First-Ever NASCAR Cup Series Start Was in the No. 8 Car, Which Dale Earnhardt Jr. Later Used to Make His Debut on the Very Same Track

NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. was certainly best known for the black No. 3 Chevy he drove for Richard Childress Racing from 1984 to 2001, but that certainly wasn’t his only ride during his Cup Series career. In fact, outside the famous No. 3, “The Intimidator” drove eight other cars during his 27-year run in NASCAR’s premier series, including one race in the No. 8 (his first-ever Cup Series race actually), which Dale Earnhardt Jr. would later make one of the most popular numbers in history.

Dale Earnhardt Sr. drove eight other cars in the NASCAR Cup Series outside of his famous No. 3 Chevy

Before climbing into the No. 3 Chevy on a full-time basis for RCR in 1984, Earnhardt Sr. had driven eight other vehicles since beginning his Cup Series career in 1975, including an earlier stint for Childress in 1981. Of his 676 races in NASCAR’s premier series, he started 147 outside the No. 3, winning nine of them. Here’s a quick look at Earnhardt’s rides during his Hall of Fame career.

  • No. 3: 529 starts/67 wins/348 Top 10s
  • No. 15: 78 starts/6 wins/52 Top 10s
  • No. 2: 60 starts/3 wins/26 Top 10s
  • No. 96: 4 starts/0 wins/1 Top 10
  • No. 98: 1 start/0 wins/1 Top 10
  • No. 19: 1 start/0 wins/0 Top 10s
  • No. 30: 1 start/0 wins/0 Top 10s
  • No. 77: 1 start/0 wins/0 Top 10s
  • No. 8: 1 start/0 wins/0 Top 10s

Dale Sr. made his official Cup Series debut in NASCAR’s premier series in the No. 8 car

After making an unofficial Cup Series debut in an exhibition race in 1974, Earnhardt Sr. made his first official start in NASCAR’s premier series on May 25, 1975, at the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Driving the No. 8 1974 Dodge Charger for Ed Negre, Earnhardt started 33rd in the 40-racer field that would ultimately be won by Richard Petty, who defeated Cale Yarborough by one lap to claim his 170th Cup Series victory and his first win at Charlotte in 26 starts. As for Earnhardt, he was never in contention and was 45 laps down when the checkered flag dropped. But at least he was running and finished a respectable 22nd, oddly enough one spot ahead of his future boss, Richard Childress.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. went on to win 17 Cup Series races in the No. 8 car

Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. talk ahead of a NASCAR Cup Series race
Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. talk ahead of a NASCAR Cup Series race | ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images

Following the first of two consecutive NASCAR Busch Series (now the Xfinity Series) points titles in 1998, Dale Earnhardt Jr. officially began his Cup Series career the following year driving the No. 8 car, which had become a Budweiser-sponsored Chevy owned by Dale Earnhardt, Inc. And just like his father, Junior also made his debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Starting in the eighth position at the 1999 Coca-Cola 600, Junior ran a solid race and finished 16th, 10 spots behind Dale Sr. and three laps behind winner Jeff Burton. After running four more races in 1999, Junior joined the Cup Series on a full-time basis the following year and went on to win 17 races, including the 2004 Daytona 500, before taking over the No. 88 Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports in 2008.

Stats courtesy of Racing Reference

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