Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

NASCAR Numerology: What's in a car number?

There's a story behind the numbers of many of the cars on the track in NASCAR:

43 — Its 198 trips to Victory Lane are the most for any NASCAR number. Richard Petty was responsible for 192 of the wins, but John Andretti took it to the checkered flag for the last time at Martinsville in April 1999. Petty's father, Lee, a three-time champion, drove the No. 42, and Richard's son, Kyle, drove the 44 and 45. Kyle's late son, Adam, also drove the 45. The No. 43 has also competed in 1,702 events — the most of any car number.

3 — Driven by the late Dale Earnhardt for Richard Childress Racing from 1984 through 2001, the stylized 3 is arguably the most iconic number in sports. Childress, who drove the car before ceding to Earnhardt, continues to control the lucrative marketing rights to the number because NASCAR licenses it to him every year. A No. 3 has not competed in a Sprint Cup race since Earnhardt died in RCR's No. 3 Chevrolet on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.

11 — No personal tie to driver Denny Hamlin, but Joe Gibbs Racing president J.D. Gibbs wore the number when he played football at William & Mary. The 11 is second on the all-time Sprint Cup wins list (184) and races (1,621). JGR purchased the number from Junior Johnson in 2004 and used Jason Leffler, Terry Labonte and J.J. Yeley before Hamlin, who was born in Tampa and lived briefly in Brandon, took over at age 24 in 2005.

14 — Tony Stewart, driver/owner of Stewart-Haas, chose the number as a tribute to his racing hero, A.J. Foyt. The four-time Indianapolis 500 winner and 1972 Daytona 500 victor never won in NASCAR with the number. Sterling Marlin used the number at Ginn Racing partly to honor his father, Coo Coo, who also drove 14.

48 — It's double the No. 24, the program from which Jimmie Johnson's car was gene-spliced in 2001. Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 at Hendrick Motorsports, is Johnson's co-owner with Rick Hendrick.

In some cases, the car number is tied to the car's primary sponsor:

01 Chevrolet — a riff off of the U.S. Army's "Army of One" ad campaign.

07 Chevrolet — Richard Childress Racing would have preferred No. 7 because of the Jack Daniel's "old No. 7" motto, but Robby Gordon wouldn't budge, so Childress slipped a zero in there. Besides, that's what your blood-alcohol level will be with too many Jack and Cokes.

83 Toyota — There are 8.3 ounces of taurine-powered Red Bull in every can.

Luck and the look: Sixty-seven drivers, including A.J. Foyt, Banjo Matthews, Bobby Unser, Mario Andretti, Richard Childress, Mike Skinner and Robby Gordon, have raced a No. 13 car, but Johnny Rutherford (1963 Daytona 500 qualifying race) is the only driver to win in one in 245 starts.

Q: Why do the numbers on the roof appear upside down from the grandstands?

A: Before electronic scoring, officials used to log laps and race positions for every car from a perch in the infield, so the numbers faced toward them.

NASCAR Numerology: What's in a car number? 02/27/09 [Last modified: Friday, February 27, 2009 7:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Dirk Koetter to Bucs: Take your complaints to someone who can help


    TAMPA — It was just another day of aching bellies at One Save Face.

    Dirk Koetter: “All of our issues are self-inflicted right now.”
  2. Bucs journal: Few complaints about Jameis Winston's play


    TAMPA — It wasn't enough to pull out a win Sunday at Buffalo, but a week removed from a shoulder sprain, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns against the NFL's No. 2 pass defense.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Brent Grimes (24) signs autographs for fans before an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.
  3. Lightning's Jon Cooper uses unusual tactic to create mismatches

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Tyler Johnson is about to swing his left leg over the boards for his next shift alongside linemate Alex Killorn and … who else?

    Stamkos? Kucherov? Point?

    Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper argues the called as his team gets a faceoff violation, leading to penalty and #Caps PP goal, during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (10/09/17).DIRK SHADD   |   Times
  4. A buzz-worthy look at the Astros-Dodgers World Series matchup

    The Heater

    Houston Astros' Yuli Gurriel is congratulated by Jose Altuve after scoring during the fifth inning of Game 7 of baseball's American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) TXMG170
  5. Florida, FSU try to ignore death threats, angry fans


    GAINESVILLE — Frustration over uncharacteristically down seasons at Florida and Florida State has started to spill over from message boards and start crossing real-world lines.

    Fans watch the Florida Gators game against Texas A&M, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla. At the half, Florida was up 10 to 3.